Your tenants have passed your screening process and you have decided to rent out your property. These tenants will live their lives in your space. As Atlanta property managers, you know that you will encounter signs of wear and tear. For example, worn carpet, scuffs on walls, holes from nails and screws, as well as signs of use of major appliances. It happens and it is expected. However, there is a difference between normal wear and tear of a rental space and actual damage caused by tenants. Keep reading to find out how you can prevent damage caused by your tenant that goes beyond the scope of daily use.
Require a security deposit
Most tenants will sigh at the request of a security deposit. This money is meant as an agreement to maintain the property without damage or the Atlanta property management company can use the deposit to repair the property upon the close of the lease. Requiring these additional funds can entice tenants to take better care of the property so they receive a full return of the deposit. On the other hand, should the tenant cause damage, the property management company can keep the security deposit as additional funds to put toward necessary repairs.
Tenant personalities are going to vary, but Atlanta property managers know that maintaining an open, positive rapport with your tenants can be beneficial. If a tenant knows that, as the landlord, you will respond when there is an issue at the home – even those that may seem insignificant – they will be more likely to call for issues that may lead to bigger, more costly repairs in the future. In addition, tenants who feel that they have been treated unfairly by landlords or that their needs are ignored, may react in a spiteful way, damaging the property.
As a property management company in Atlanta, keep the line of communication open with your tenants and be approachable.
Maintain your property
Upkeep on a property is important. During seasons of rough weather – such as heavy rain or winter storms, do an inspection of the property. Look for signs of immediate needed repair or that will require additional repair in the future. Then, address and complete the repairs immediately. Lacking care for the property can lead to bigger problems down the road. In addition, it shows the tenant that, as a property manager, you care about the condition of the property and are willing to put the effort in to maintain it.
Update your screening process
Gathering references and rental history should be a part of your screening process. However, how thoroughly do you follow through with contacting the references? Do you have specific, detailed questions that you ask? And, most importantly, do you follow up with prior landlords? Gearing a screening process toward forming a picture of your potential tenant can assist Atlanta property managers with making better decisions. And never, ever rent your property to someone who has a history of property damage.
Every property management company in Atlanta has their tenant sign a lease. It is important to make sure that your lease is thorough and states what is expected from your tenant. The lease should be clear about what maintenance is the responsibility of the tenant and what is the responsibility of the property manager. The lease should also give contact information and clear instructions about what to do should an emergency with the property arise.
This lease will be your go to document upon a tenant’s departure to determine whether the security deposit can be released back to the tenant, so make it precise, clear, and easy to understand.
In the lease, have your tenants agree to set inspections of the property. Make a point to visit the rental property and inspect for damage or possible deterioration of the property at least twice a year during the tenancy. If your maintenance personnel visit the property, ask them about the condition of the property and if they saw any damage. What we have found over the past eight years is that even though we do a great job screening, we don’t always have people (previous landlords) telling us all the information we want to know. Doing regular inspections with property notification, may be the most important aspect of preventing tenant damage to your property. Maintaining the upkeep of the residence can lead to its longevity. This will also give the property manager a chance to see that there are no issues with the property that need to be addressed with the tenant. If a breach of the lease agreement is discovered, make sure to discuss it promptly.
Overall, the best way to keep tenants from damaging your rental property is by example. Show the tenants that you and your team care about the property. Be respectful of tenants and maintain good communication. Your screening process has led to some good tenants – let them know you care about their needs and they will care for your property!
Marina Shlomov, a managing partner at ALH|Podland Realty & Rental Homes Property Management is the author of many articles on Landlording, Property Management, and Real Estate Investing. A residential builder in the state of Georgia since 1999, Marina is an investor herself. Her property management company is intended “For Investors” and “By Investors” for a simple reason – she knows what investors’ goals are and she works hard to reach their goals. In her spare time, Marina likes to spend time with her family, friends, garden, read and travel. Check her out at www.alhpodland.com. You can find Marina’s articles and comments at @rentalhomesatl on Twitter, on Facebook, Google+, Blogger. and YouTube, Bigger Pockets and REI CLub and LinkedIn.