Owning a rental property is a solid source of extra income. It does not, however, come without its fair share of work.
Even with the best of tenants, you can be left with damaged property and high repair costs. The key is understanding which repair responsibilities are yours and which ones belong to your tenant.
Read on for helpful information regarding rental property damage.
Your Due Diligence
Your best defense against damage caused by a tenant is a good screening process and solid rental agreement with definite terms regarding repairs. It is important to also require a security deposit.
Always do a thorough background check on new tenants. You reduce your risks and headaches tremendously if you weed out problematic renters.
You should have a standard rental agreement that clearly states your expectations. There should be a section regarding any repairs to damage caused by them, their guests, or any pets.
As an added protection, talk to the renters about rental insurance. Some are unfamiliar with it and the best rent insurance helps both them and you.
Finally, between renters, take photos of both the inside and outside of your property. This will go a long way in protecting your rights and proving your case if things have to go to court.
Just because you have tenants living on your property doesn’t mean you can wash your hands of it. You still have responsibilities.
It is on you to make sure the property is habitable and safe. There must not be any structural damage and it should meet all local codes.
You must provide running water (including hot water) and heat in the winter. If there is an AC unit, it must be in working order. If any of these systems fail, you must replace or repair in a timely manner.
Your Renter’s Responsibilities
Most of the basics should be spelled out in the rental agreement, but make sure they understand before they sign it.
It is their responsibility to remove all trash on a regular basis. They should also practice basic upkeep of the property itself and all appliances and working systems. When something breaks or doesn’t work properly, they must notify you right away so you can fix it.
Accidents will still happen, and if damage occurs due to the negligence of the tenant, it is on them to first report it to you and then repair or make restitution.
It is a good idea to establish a regular inspection of the property. This can be built into the rental agreement and with advanced notice, you are allowed to come in and look around. This will give you an idea of minor repairs needed and if there is a pending problem brewing.
The Unruly Tenant and Damaged Property
Even with your best efforts, you may still end up with an unruly and destructive tenant. They will disregard the rental agreement and have no respect for your property. They may damage it while still living there or leave it trashed and in bad condition.
When this happens you have a few options. If they are still living there, immediately begin eviction proceedings. If they have already vacated, you have the right to withhold the security deposit money for repairs.
If the security deposit does not cover the expenses, you may need to proceed with legal action. That is when the photos and signed rental agreement will become your best evidence.
Protect Your Investment
Your rental property is a source of revenue. Make sure you take the steps to protect it from bad tenants and damaged property. Know your rights and responsibilities and act accordingly to both.
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