Every rental property is going to undergo some level of wear and tear. It’s inevitable. But that doesn’t mean landlords can’t take steps to prolong the life — and value — of each rental unit:
1. Check rental history. When screening tenants, watch for a pattern of property damage. Ask previous landlords whether the person took responsibility for any damage caused. Did they blame someone else or try to hide what they did?
2. Create parameters in the tenancy agreement. Address behaviours that are likely to cause damage, like growing houseplants, burning candles, smoking, or refusing to alert the landlord about needed repairs.
3. Conduct a tenant orientation. Don’t assume tenants understand the safest ways to use appliances or care for the property.
4. Be vigilant around moves. Alert tenants about the need to be careful while moving items in and out so they can slow down, plan better, and avoid costly scrapes and scratches.
5. Conduct routine inspections. Schedule time to walk through the property periodically. This provides an opportunity to flag needed repairs and minimize any damage that is occurring. Unchecked water leaks cause extensive damage, so inspect hoses, toilets and faucets routinely.
6. Be thoughtful about finishes. High-maintenance units devalue faster. When upgrading properties, consider changing out flooring, countertops, appliances, and window dressings for heavier-duty options. For instance, replace carpeting with tile or wood flooring so tenants will need to provide their own rugs. Don’t try to pick tenants to match the finishes of the property, like a single professional for a high-end unit. A glass of wine spilled at an adult dinner party will leave as much of a stain as a child’s cup of juice.
7. Pay special attention to long-term tenants. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking a long-term tenant won’t cause damage. The opposite is true. The longer the tenant is at the property, the higher the risk of damage. Continue to conduct routine inspections throughout the tenancy, no matter how long the tenant stays. Don’t defer needed maintenance until after the tenant moves out.
8. Keep an eye on vacant properties. Rentals sitting vacant are at risk for theft and vandalism. Take steps to make the property appear lived-in. See How to Protect Your Vacant Rental.
9. Be picky about plants. Landscaping is an important aspect of the property whether it’s improving curb appeal or cutting energy costs. But plants can attract pests or pool water and that can cause significant damage to the structure. Trees must be planted strategically to avoid damage to underground systems, and tree branches must be inspected frequently to avoid damage to roofs, gutters and windows.
10. Adopt a long-term maintenance plan. Upkeep should be on a schedule and should continue throughout the year, regardless of the length of an individual tenancy.
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Disclaimer: The information provided in this post is not intended to be construed as legal advice, nor should it be considered a substitute for obtaining individual legal counsel or consulting your local, state, federal or provincial tenancy laws.