One of the most troublesome aspects of being a landlord is tenants who damage your property, from a few broken items to blatant disregard to total destruction, and even worse. There are plenty of horror stories around about what tenants can do to a rental property.
Sometimes a security deposit cover it. Other times you have to take the tenant to court. In either case, it either eats up valuable turn-around time or ends up costing the landlord plenty.
What can be done to prevent or completely eliminate this tenant property abuse? If you think finding a good tenant depends on luck, you couldn’t be more wrong. A carefully designed preventative strategy can reduce or completely eliminate tenant property abuse. That means taking proactive measures to reduce risk concerns that will guarantee the well-being of your rental property.
First and foremost, effective Tenant Screening is the key ingredient of all successful, savvy landlords. How many landlords can confirm they carry out a complete tenant screening exercise when looking for prospective tenants? Not many, if gauged from the number of horror stories that float around about property damage! To get a good tenant, a landlord must be thoroughly professional about the entire tenant screening process, and take the time and expense to carefully vet each prospective tenant. Verifying past landlord references is an essential part of every standard screening process. Call past landlords personally and question them about prospective tenants. Don’t hesitate asking a question like, “And what kind of condition did they leave the unit, apartment, townhome or house?
Second, as an important part of the screening process, visit or at the very least, drive by the property the tenant intends to vacate (if it is a house), in order to assess its physical condition. The odds are your prospective tenant will treat your property in the same manner he or she treats their current rental home. If it’s an apartment, talk with onsite property managers and maintence personnel, if possible.
Third, photograph and videotape the property, in the presence of the tenant after he or she has finished signing the lease. This evidence will ensure tenants look after your property as if it were their own. After all, if taken to court, the before and after evidence ensures the law is on your side, no matter what argument the defendant might put up.
Fourth, before handing over your property, prepare a complete Property Condition Report documenting the state of your property. Go over each and every listed item with the tenant (initially each item if possible)and, once he or she has signed the inventory and condition checklist, put her or him on record, and you have another legal document, in addition to the lease.
Fifth, before handing over possession, take a substantial sum as security deposit including the first month’s rent. With so much at stake, the tenant will ensure he or she looks after your property well. A significant security deposit will deter even the most vengeful tenants.
As long as you follow the above steps, you are on your way to finding a responsible tenant who will take good care of your property for years to come.