There are risks that come with owning a rental property business. One significant source of trouble arises from tenants negligence or carelessness. While most tenants are responsible, some are just the opposite.
Granted, damage caused by tenants is usually unintentional. For example, your tenant may not report a needed repair just because they haven't noticed it. Over time, the problem may only worsen and become expensive to repair.
As a landlord, it’s important to take concrete steps to prevent damages to your rental property. Here are some tips to help you get started.
1. Screen Tenants Thoroughly
This should be a priority whenever you're looking to fill a vacancy. No two tenants are created equal, and you should exercise caution before renting to one.
An effective tenant screening process is one that begins at the first point of contact. This is usually right after the rental ad goes live. Prospective tenants will reach out to you to learn more about the unit, so use this opportunity to learn a thing or two about them
The following are some questions you might want to ask to gauge their suitability:
• Why are you moving? Look for legitimate reasons for moving, such as to upsize or downsize, or to move closer to place of work.
• When are you looking to move? A prospect who wants to move in immediately can be a red flag, or nothing at all. Inquire more.
• Does your landlord know you’re looking to move out? If they haven’t notified their landlord, that could be a red flag as they may be breaking their lease.
• Have you ever been evicted? It goes without saying that you should only consider tenants with a clean eviction history.
• How much do you make per month? Look for tenants that can comfortably afford to pay rent, usually making about 3x the rent price.
And don’t stop here, of coures! Require every applicant to fill out a rental application form and verify all information provided.
2. Charge a Security Deposit
Besides screening a tenant, this is another protective measure you can take against possible difficult tenants. Generally speaking, a security deposit serves two important purposes:
One, it provides financial cushion to a landlord against damages a tenant may cause. And two, it reminds a tenant that they have a responsibility to care for the unit, lest they have their deposit withheld after they leave.
Some states impose limits on how much a security deposit can be. Luckily for Texas landlords, there is no limit to the maximum amount you can charge your tenants. That said, check local ordinances just to be clear.
Usually, charging a security deposit equivalent to the rent of 2 months' rent suffices.
3. Carry Out Routine Inspections.
Inspecting your property on a regular basis can protect your investment from preventable harm caused by normal wear and tear, weather, and tenant damage.
Now, there are various types of rental inspections. These include seasonal inspections, drive-by inspections, and move-in and move out inspections. Each one serves a different purpose.
For example, a move-in inspection helps document the property’s condition when a tenant is first moving in. A seasonal inspection, on the other hand, goes hand-in-hand with seasonal maintenance. Each season calls for certain preventative maintenance, such as weatherizing water pipes in the winter.
Don’t forget to notify your tenant beforehand, though. Tenants have a right to privacy, and barging in unannounced can bring about legal issues.
4. Help Your Tenants Prevent Damage
It’s possible to keep tenant damages at a minimum just by educating your tenants on best practices. Ideally, conduct the orientation in person. Let your tenant know of the following.
• How to properly use appliances.
• Their maintenance responsibilities, such as yard maintenance.
• How to report repairs.
• Restricted property alterations and improvements.
• Prohibited things likely to cause damage.
Take the tenant through all these things before signing the lease. It may also be a good idea to provide them this information in a written copy, so they can keep them handy for easy reference.
5. Fill Vacancies Quickly.
Every day your Texas property will sits vacant is money down the drain. You’ll need to pay out of pocket to cover things such as taxes and your mortgage.
What’s more, vacant rentals are normally at a higher risk of vandalism and theft. Once a unit falls vacant, the following are a couple of things you might want to do:
• Visit the unit regularly. Don’t simply drive by; go inside and visually inspect the home. This will help keep squatters away.
• Have a neighbor keep an eye on the property, especially if you live far away.
• Secure all main entrances.
• Install an alarm system to ward off potential intruders.
• Seek an insurance cover specially meant for vacant units.
• Hire a property management company to find a qualified tenant and care for your property.
6. Build a Strong Landlord-Tenant Relationship.
Maintaining a solid relationship with your tenants is key to building a long-term and lucrative rental business. When a tenant moves in, let them know upfront what you expect from them.
Let them know their obligations. Let them know that you’ll be available to address any concerns they may have during the course of their tenancy. Doing so can help make a tenant feel special. In turn, such a tenant is likely to rent longer and give you fewer problems.
There you have it – 6 tips on how to prevent tenant damages to your rental property. If managing tenants and your rental takes too much of your free time, Limestone Country Properties can help.
Our effective property management services can help take stress out of owning property, allowing you to enjoy the fruits of your investment without the stress. Get in touch with us today to get started!