Rental properties, when you stop to think about them, are really strange things. You’ve purchased a property, which is likely one of your most valuable investments, and then you give complete strangers the keys to it! As you probably know, it’s often well worth it, but anxiety about the state of your property is understandable. Here are a number of ways you can protect your investment:
The first step is to have an extremely aggressive screening policy; prospective tenants may be strangers but you can collect a lot of valuable information before signing a lease. Get contact information from their past landlords, two months of paycheck stubs to confirm their income, government issued ID and get a credit check done. Ask for references from friends, family, and employers. People with good reputations will usually be able to provide all of this information quickly and easily.
You’ll want to make sure your property is somewhat tenant-proof. Avoid carpets if you can and try to use materials throughout the property that don’t stain easily. The easier something is to wipe down, the better it will serve you. Before the tenant moves in, do a thorough walk-through with them. Take pictures of the entire space, check the condition of the walls, the lighting, the ceiling, the toilet, everything. You can use this handy checklist; give a copy to your tenant, too, so it’s clear you’ve agreed on the condition of the property.
Have a number of clauses in the lease that protect your property. The most prominent among these nowadays is a no smoking clause. Other rules might include mandating that felt pads be used on all furniture (to avoid scuffing your floor) and disallowing wall-mounted televisions (which can damage the drywall). Having strict noise level and partying policies can also help mitigate the risk of overly enthusiastic rabble-rousing.
In rougher areas of the city, it may be a good idea to have some form of security on site. This can range from installing CCTV cameras in order to deter illegal activity to having an actively monitored premises with 24/7 on-call security staff in case of altercations, vandalism, or other criminal activity.
Handling all of this yourself can be a lot of work, to say the least. There are plenty of other little things you can do to protect your investment – from getting the right kind of insurance to finding great maintenance staff. Whether you’ve got houses, commercial buildings, or apartments for rent, a property management team can help you keep your investments safe. What’s more, property management can help you get the most value out of your investments because of their years of experience making rental properties profitable.