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How to protect your rental property from damage

When it comes to your tenanted property, the idea of ‘let and forget’ has a certain appeal but as a landlord, dealing with property damage can sometimes be complicated and cumbersome.

  • Finance
  • Read Time: 5 mins

Entrusting your equity to someone else can be a big step for property owners but as a landlord, that’s exactly what you are doing.

We’d like to think others would treat our property the same way we would but that’s not always the case.

Property damage can be malicious or accidental. It can also occur at no fault of the tenant such as a leaking roof or drainage and plumbing issues.

It’s important that you find ways to minimise the risk of any type of damage. Here’s some advice.

Setting a standard

If you are preparing your property for new tenants, present it in the condition you’d want it kept in. You want your property to present as a clean slate for renters.

Fresh paint and carpet, manicured lawns, and an immaculate appearance not only give the property more appeal but may attract tenants who are more likely to keep the standard up in the long run – and stick around for a while.  

  • Repairs: Have current faults professionally inspected and any damage repaired. This can also help reduce the risk of these issues worsening and costing more to repair down the track.

  • Cleanliness: How clean your property is when placed on the rental market is how you’d expect it to be when the lease has ended. Set the standard from the start.

  • Presentation: First impressions count and can attract a reliable tenant. If required, paint or touch up walls, professionally clean or replace flooring if required, and tidy the yard.

Choosing the tenants

Once on the rental market, ensure you undertake a thorough screening of prospective tenants. It would pay for you or your rental agency to undertake a comprehensive background check on any prospective tenants and keep your options open if you have interest from several prospective tenants.

You are not obliged to let it out to the first one who expressed interest.

Find out their: 

  • Identity
  • Rental history
  • Employment status/income.

Also ask how many people will be living at the property and whether they have pets and/or children. You may wish to include additional clauses for carpet cleaning, pest treatment, and repair for any damage caused by pets or children. 

If you’d like to run credit, personal, and criminal background checks with an approved consumer reporting agency, you will need permission from the prospective tenant.

During the lease

Once you’ve picked your tenants, it’s a good time to take detailed photos and/or video of your property before they move in. You can use these images and footage to compare against your regular inspections and the condition your property will be left in once the lease has ended.

Keep in mind there is an allowance for general wear and tear. Establish expectations around pets to avoid damage caused by them.

  • Property inspections: General inspections should be scheduled regularly as a means of checking if there are maintenance issues that need addressing such as faulty smoke detectors, plumbing, electrical, and security issues. It helps to have regular pest and termite inspections carried out on the property as well. 
  • Keeping safe: Make sure doors and windows are lockable and fully accessible in case your tenants need to evacuate in an emergency. Build gardens away from building walls and keep trees trimmed so they don’t cause obstructions and are safe during storms. Ensure the property is fully accessible from the road. 

  • Property manager: A good property manager should be trustworthy and able to do most of the thinking for you as well as be a good source of communication between yourself and the tenant when necessary.  

  • Legalities: The property manager should be aware of all legal policies surrounding rental agreements which include the rights of both tenants and landlords. As a landlord, it’s advisable to have good knowledge of these policies as well. Each Australian state and territory has its own legislation surrounding tenancy agreements which you can familiarise yourself with.

Build rapport

It’s beneficial to develop a good relationship with your tenants. Keep communication open and be available for your tenant to approach you with any issues. Act quickly if there are things that need fixing. 

If mutual respect is established, your tenant is likely to go out of their way to treat your property well.

Dealing with accidents

While your property is being rented, keep in mind that accidents can happen, even with the most ideal tenants. Act promptly if a damage issue arises.

Early preparation at the start of a lease and how you treat your own property and tenants as a landlord should reflect on how well looked after it is. Avoiding damage isn’t a guarantee, but these tips will more than likely reduce your chances of damage.

Keep yourself in the loop when it comes to your property management and maintenance and remember to be communicative and approachable as a landlord.

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