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Getting Tenants to Treat Your Investment Property with Care

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As you probably know, any long term investment property strategy typically involves managing tenants.  And as you also undoubtedly know, tenants certainly cannot be entrusted to treat your property as if it was their own home.  That said, there are some things you can do to essentially train your tenants to respect your property more than they otherwise would.

Basically, most of this boils down to educating your tenants on what to do, what not to do, and your own expectations as the landlord.  As such, you’ll want to include provisions in your rental lease that document your expectations.  For example, if the tenant is responsible for raking the leaves in the fall, spell this out in the lease.  Similarly, if tenants are not allowed to paint, change doorknobs, or otherwise alter any aspect of the property, put this into the lease as well.

In addition to the lease provisions, when you’re moving a new tenant in, it’s always a good idea to also verbally explain your provisions and expectations.  This can come in the form of an orientation, move-in inspection, property tour, or just a casual discussion.  This will help to reinforce the desired behavior.

Generally speaking, there are a number of responsibilities that you’ll want your tenant to handle.  For example, you’ll want them to use the electrical & plumbing appliances and fixtures appropriately.  Similarly, tenants should be instructed to never alter any safety features, such as common area lighting or a hand rail going down the steps.  In fact, tenants should not alter anything in the apartment without your written approval – period.

Additionally, if the tenant breaks something in the apartment, then he or she would typically be responsible for replacing or repairing it.  Also, tenants should be instructed to contact you immediately if they see a problem or have some sort of emergency.  Also, tenants should understand that the apartment is a living space only and is not to be used by them for any commercial purpose.  Also, tenants must not be allowed to move in additional / unauthorized tenants.  Finally, tenants must be respectful of neighbors, and must not remove anything from the property that was there prior to their move-in.

In the final analysis, tenants cannot be expected to treat your property with TLC on their own, so you must take the steps necessary to encourage them to do so.  Include provisions in the lease that document what you expect, and reinforce your policies with your tenants verbally upon move-in.  Follow this advice, and your rental properties will take less of a beating than they might otherwise – trust me!

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