One of the most challenging aspects of being a landlord is dealing with tenant-related property damage. Even if the damage was from carelessness or neglect rather than malicious intent, the result is the same: landlords are still liable to make time-consuming and often costly fixes before their property can be put back on the market.
Fortunately, there are a number of different ways that you can protect your property, keeping it in good condition so you can continue renting it out for many years to come.
Today, we’ll talk about a variety of strategies landlords and their property managers can use to protect their property from tenant-related damage. Most of these strategies are simple, and easy to implement even if you’re in the middle of a tenancy.
1. Update and Improve Everything You Can – Before the Property is Rented
Anyone who has ever lived in a run-down or damaged property will tell you that any house in that condition is incredibly frustrating to clean and maintain. It’s obvious when a landlord hasn’t taken the time to clean or service a unit between tenants, and this attitude is catching. After all, if tenants move in and have to spend three days cleaning up after the last tenant, why should they make an effort to keep the home clean and in good repair themselves?
To break this cycle, make a point of thoroughly cleaning and maintaining every unit you have before it gets turned over to a new tenant. This way, it’s easy for them to keep things clean and tidy moving forward.
2. Do a Thorough Tenant Screening
Many landlords make the mistake of only focusing on their tenant’s income level during the tenant screening process. While this is important, you should ensure you’re investigating their rental history as well.
You can do this by asking their former landlords about the condition of their unit after they moved out. Most landlords will be honest about whether there was simple wear and tear, or negligent or malicious damage. From there, you can decide if you want to rent to a tenant like that, or move on to the next candidate.
3. Ensure Your Lease Agreement is Clear
Since Ontario landlords cannot ask for a security deposit, the tenant’s responsibilities must be laid out clearly in the lease agreement.
Landlords cannot and should not dictate anything as specific as a cleaning or maintenance schedule, but they can lay out the state of the unit in detail so that tenants understand that they are responsible for keeping those utilities and amenities in good working condition, minus normal wear and tear.
4. Implement Regular Inspections
In Ontario, there is no set rule for how often landlords can inspect their units, as long as they give tenants enough notice, and arrive and depart between 8 AM and 8 PM. Landlords and property managers must balance their need to clean and inspect the unit with their tenant’s right to privacy.
Often, agreeing to a maintenance and inspection schedule in advance works best for both parties. That way, tenants understand that it’s not personal and that the landlord is just doing their due diligence to keep their property clean and in good repair.
5. Offer Regular Cleanings
Another great way to keep your unit clean and in good repair is to offer to pay for a regular professional cleaning service. This is a boon for tenants, who get to reap the benefits of a clean and tidy property, but it also reassures landlords that a professional team is looking after the cleanliness of their unit.
The expense is usually minimal, and worth it to remove stubborn signs of damage or wear-and-tear to flooring, countertops, appliances, and more.
6. Communicate Clearly and Respectfully with Tenants
Overall, the best way to limit damage to your property is to maintain a healthy and respectful relationship with your tenants. The more you’re able to communicate with them on key issues like cleaning and repairs, the easier it will be for you to keep the property in the best possible condition.
If your relationship is combative or breaks down due to a lack of communication, your tenants will be much less likely to ask your permission to paint a wall or tell you when something is damaged in time for you to get it professionally fixed.
7. Use a Tenant Portal or Easy Reporting System
Your tenants should never have to jump through hoops to get something fixed. Instead, implement an easy reporting system or an easy-to-use tenant portal to ensure that they can put in a maintenance request at any time of the day or night.
We have one for our tenants at Goldmar Property Management, and we’ve found it invaluable for keeping our properties in great condition. Our easy system makes it simple for tenants to reach out and know that someone will answer their request, giving them reassurance and peace of mind.
Want to hear more about how we work hard to support both our tenants and landlords? Get in touch with us here to learn more.