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How To Protect Your Rental Properties From Bad Tenants

The Latchel Team
February 3, 2020
How To Protect Your Rental Properties From Bad Tenants Y-Combinator REZI Talks

Rental property owners know that every once in a while, negligent tenants are bound to show up at their office door. These people create issues, like damaged apartment interiors and past-due rent checks. Luckily, it’s possible to fix most of these problems from the start. Here are a few ideas on how you can prevent these dreaded occurrences.

Screen Candidates Thoroughly

Before all else, have interested tenants fill out an application. Doing so will allow you to check credit, rental and criminal history, which can help you determine if they’re a good fit.

You might also want to ask for references from any past landlords they’ve rented from. Then, you can ask any questions you need to directly. Doing this can significantly lower the risk of headaches down the line.

Require a Large Security Deposit

Almost all rental companies require a security deposit. To prevent destruction from happening, discourage tenants by requiring a substantial security deposit. Since they’ll want their money back at the end of their lease, they’ll be less likely to cause any damage.

That said, your state’s laws limit how much you can charge. Consider rental price, the property’s amenities and local competition as well. You don’t want to go overboard – charging an unreasonable amount will deter renters altogether and put unnecessary strain on new tenants.

Conduct Inspections, Cleanings and Updates

Renters are human, so some damage will be accidental, or not their fault at all. Often, a lack of maintenance leads to leaky pipes and broken air filters. Your tenants may have never taken care of an apartment or house before, so remind them to check on things.

Conduct inspections every few months so you can personally take a look. Hire a professional service to come out and clean a couple of times a year as well. These steps will allow you to assess any home improvements you need to make. At the end of every year, you should:

  • Paint the exteriors and interiors
  • Regrout bathroom and kitchen tile
  • Clean the gutters
  • Switch out furnace filters
  • Replace flooring if needed
  • Look for water damage
  • Check smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors

You may also want to look into technology that can help you in maintaining your properties. These gadgets can prevent fires, water damage, gas leaks and more. You can nip potential disasters in the bud and reduce repair requests.

If you manage a vacation home, smart locks are a good investment, as new renters arrive every few weeks. Research the different types of smart home devices before you list a property, just in case you find something useful to you.

Outline Pet Restrictions

Many tenants have animals they’ll want to bring with them, like cats, dogs and reptiles. Unfortunately, these pets can cause significant damage to your property. Pet nails can tear up carpet and scratch hardwood flooring, and worse, some tenants may not promptly clean up accidents before they begin to create long-term smells.

Popular ways to handle this are to set monthly pet rent, determine weight and breed limits or ban animals altogether. While this may cause renters to look elsewhere, it’ll protect your property in the long run.

However, you can still maintain a pet-friendly apartment while keeping your property safe. Ask to meet a dog before you offer a lease to a new tenant, to gauge its behavior and training. You can also opt for more durable flooring options or request that tenants use padding to cover vulnerable hardwood.

Make It Easy to Request Repairs

When something breaks, most tenants will report it within a few days. But, if they don’t know how to, or the process is inaccessible, the problem may go unfixed. If people must visit an office and fill out a form to repair a doorknob, many of them will forget or not do it.

Consider implementing an online system, like Latchel, for renters to file repair claims. Even the most old-fashioned of landlords can put this into practice, especially if people already pay their rent on the web.

Foster a Communicative Relationship

No one ever wants to fight with their landlord, and when you have rocky relationships with your tenants, things can go wrong fast. From day one, you’ll want to build up that relationship to let new renters know you’re there to help. When issues arise, they can come to you to solve them.

If your renters don’t like interacting with you, they’ll be hesitant to bring things to your attention. This is how landlords end up with long-term property issues that could have been fixed with a little preventative maintenance.

Protect Your Rental Property in the Long-Term

As always, the best way to ensure something gets done right the first time is by taking the reins and doing it yourself. Tenants themselves can only prevent so much damage, especially if you don’t make it easy to report it or fix it. Take note of these suggestions so you can be prepared to take on your next renter.

Holly Welles is a real estate writer who covers renting and investing for Apartment Guide, Rental Housing Journal and other digital publications. More of her work can be found on her own website, The Estate Update.

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👋 Join us for a special webinar Thursday, January 11th