Set the stage for damage-free rental units, and your tenants are more likely to follow your lead:
1. Show Pride Of Ownership. People learn by watching. Let your tenants take a cue from you. Show them how nice the property can look. No matter how modest or upscale the property may be, clean and well-kept always looks good. Your enthusiasm towards the property will inspire them to make it a nice home.
2. Collect a Security Deposit. Nothing provides better leverage to keep a property clean, maintained and free of defects than holding back some of the tenant’s money. When it comes to negotiations, a security deposit is an important tool. Just be sure you know what you can deduct for and what you have to repair yourself.
3. Offer an Orientation. Develop a handbook for the property to pass along to each tenant. Explain the best way to use appliances and a checklist for cleaning finishes in the home–not every tenant will know how to treat surfaces. If you are not comfortable with the tenant performing all maintenance items, offer to come in and do it for them, no charge. That gives you a chance to say ‘hello’ and check up on the property.
4. Inspect Periodically. Provide in the lease for the right to inspect the property periodically–like every three months. Give the tenant plenty of notice and schedule when it’s convenient for them, if possible. Provide a list of what you want to check. Don’t nitpick — look for things that could actually cause damage, like furniture blocking air vents, missing screens or signs of an unauthorized pet or occupant. Be constructive and not confrontational. If any repairs are needed, schedule a time to take care of it before it gets any worse.
Consider language in your lease that lets your tenant know you have the right to evict them if they are causing damage.
5. Conduct a Walk Through. Always walk through the property with the tenant when they move in, and document the condition. Give them a chance to point out anything they consider a defect. Do the same thing again when they move out. Give them a clear list of what they need to do to recover their security deposit. The goal has to be attainable or the tenant will become discouraged. If they don’t believe they will get their deposit back, they won’t do any of the work.
When you demonstrate enthusiasm about the rental and professionalism in the way you treat the tenant, they may treat your property with more care.
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