How can you renter proof your rental?
OK landlords, property managers, and property owners who rent out homes, this one's for you! I was just reading a question someone posted on another site and it really got me thinking. The question posed was, "how can you renter proof your rental?" Let's discuss some options for what you can do to try and keep your rentals in the best possible shape.
The first thing that comes to mind for me is to get rid of carpet. Carpets stain easily and they can hold onto nasty smells. In a rental with children, we all know that things get spilled. If you permit pets, we know they can have accidents, plus it's difficult to get their fur out of carpets. I've always been a fan of using tile or wood laminate floor products in rentals because they are easier to keep clean. We tend to use Pergo that has a waterproof or wet protect technology. We've had success with Pergo Outlast+ with Spill Protect because it prevents liquids from getting down into the joints. If you absolutely feel you must use carpet, dark colored carpet tends to hide stains better.
We present each new renter with a "rent kit" that contains products that we're encouraging them to use. Read on and you'll understand what I mean.
Still thinking about floor surfaces, try to ensure that tenants won't damage the flooring you have in your units. A few inexpensive ideas prior to having a renter move in: provide mats at each doorway entrance. I have exterior mats outside and I also put mats inside. I do this hoping that they'll get the idea to wipe their feet. I've read suggestions from other owners that they provide a shoe rack near each door to encourage renters to take off their shoes when entering - I've never done that, but I can see their point. Another thing I do is provide a sample product of felt pads to use on the bottom of furniture legs to prevent scratching floor surfaces or damaging carpet.
We have certain paints that we use in all of our units. The main thing we want is a paint that can easily be washed. For that reason, we never paint with flat paints - they're too easy to get dirty. We stick with satin or semi-gloss paints.
We have a rule in our lease that says that tenants are not permitted to nail or anchor things into the walls. We recommend 3-M Command picture hanging products, and we include samples in our rent kit. We also prohibit tenants from mounting TV's on the walls.
We spend time in between each rental to install door stoppers on all doors. If any become damaged between renters, we replace them.
When we have a switchover between tenants, we take photographs of every room to have documentation of the condition they were in prior to the new renter. We also encourage our renters to do the same for their records. If damage occurs above what is considered as typical wear and tear, we let the tenants know in the lease document that they sign that they will be held accountable for it.
We absolutely do not allow smoking inside of our rentals. When we were purchasing properties and toured ones that had heavy smokers living in them previously, it was very obvious. A friend of mine had an awful time getting the smoke smell out of a property she purchased. For that reason, tenants are told that if they violate that rule, they forfeit their entire security deposit.
We require certain maintenance items be done regularly by our tenants and we outline these in the lease document. This includes changing air filters monthly and doing Rid-x treatments monthly on homes with septic systems. We also state garbage and waste disposal procedures in our lease (taking out trash to receptacles, days for pickup). Certain types of maintenance we continue, like paying for lawn care (we just add the price of it into the rental amount). Too often tenants claim they'll take care of it and then let they let it go after a few months of care. By stating your rules and expectations in writing in the lease, a tenant can't claim they didn't know what they needed to do regarding maintenance items.
In our lease agreement, it states that home inspections will take place within the first three months and then twice yearly. With our renters knowing that we'll be checking to see the condition of things, they tend to focus on what they need to do if they hope to have their lease renewed.
When renters leave your property, pull out your photos from the initial walk through when you do their check out inspection. Document issues with photos if you feel the need to make a claim against the tenants for things beyond normal wear and tear. In between rentals, try your best to tenant proof your property before new renters arrive. Make sure your lease document clearly outlines your expectations and rules, and have it state the penalties or costs for violations - no one should be surprised to find out they're being charged for damages they've clearly caused.
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