For landlords in Washington, DC, trusting a rental property to a brand-new tenant can be a stressful experience. Will they take care of the property? Will they notify you when something goes wrong? How can you encourage them to treat the property like it was their own?
Although the tenant may not own the property, they can feel invested in it if landlords meet them halfway and do their best to find tenants that fit the property. Here’s how.
Screen tenants thoroughly
Sometimes the biggest signs that a tenant won’t take care of your property manifest during the screening process. They might be late to an appointment. They might badmouth their previous landlord, or they might leave trash in your home while touring it.
These signs are easy to spot, but not all tenants will show you what they’re really like during the tour. That’s why you need to be thorough in your tenant screening process.
Tenant screening involves calling references, checking for employment and ensuring that your prospective tenant has a lifestyle that will fit your property. It can be arduous work, especially when you’re stressed about that upcoming mortgage payment. A property management company like Atlas Lane can handle this work for you.
Require a security deposit
A security deposit is an insurance policy for your property. It encourages tenants to take good care of the property so that they might get that money back whenever they move out. It also provides peace of mind for landlords, who feel at ease knowing they have some money to do repairs if needed when the tenant moves out.
All landlords should require tenants to pay a security deposit, which is usually equally to about one month’s rent. Higher security deposits often do the work of screening out tenants for you. Those that are willing to pay will be more likely to take good care of your property because so much more money will be on the line.
Keep your property in great shape
As important as it is to encourage your tenants to take care of your property, you need to meet them halfway and do the work to make the property worth keeping. When your tenant first views the property and sees how well you’ve taken care of it, that will indicate to them how much effort they should exert to the property’s care and upkeep.
Before you ever list or show the property, you need to handle the repairs and touch-ups. Anything broken or leaking needs to be fixed, not just patched but fixed. Appliances should be checked to ensure they’re working properly, and walls need to be painted or at least touched up. If there are nail holes from a previous tenant, fill them in with a little spackle. Stained carpets and burnt-out light bulbs will need to be replaced.
You will also need to do a thorough cleaning. All floors should be vacuumed and mopped. Toilets and showers need to be sparkling, and the kitchen shouldn’t have a single crumb on the countertops.
Be communicative and responsive
Most tenants will let you know right away when something breaks or needs a repair, but it’s up to you to respond in a timely manner and fix the problem. When landlords take days to respond to tenants, the tenants usually stop telling the landlord when something goes wrong. What’s the point? The landlord obviously doesn’t care enough to fix the problem.
All landlords should provide tenants with an easy way to contact them, whether it’s by phone or email, and landlords need to respond within the first 24 hours. That may sound quick, but waiting to respond could make the problem worse. When you’re communicative and responsive, small problems rarely evolve to become larger problems.
If responding within 24 hours is too much for you, consider hiring a property management company in Washington, DC to do the work of running your property for you. At Atlas Lane, we assign one person to each rental property to be the point of contact for tenants, and that results in better communication for tenants and better property care for landlords. We also staff our HomePros 24/7, so if a pipe bursts in the middle of the night, tenants can get help right away.
Set limits on pet allowances
Allowing pets can open up your pool of renters, but that can come at a cost of damage to your rental property. Both cats and dogs can do their fair share of damage to carpets, wood floors and doors, and they can leave an odor behind if the owner hasn’t taken good care of their pets.
Rather than banning pets, set restrictions in your lease to reduce the amount of potential damage. You can allow one pet at a time or allow only cats or only dogs. You can also set weight restrictions, so only small dogs can live on your property.
Remember to perform timely inspections
Inspections need to be done when a tenant moves in and when they move out. The move-in inspection is a good time to check for any last-minute repairs that need to be done and make a note of any existing damage. At Atlas Lane, we usually use this time to teach tenants about their properties and how to do minor fixes and repairs. In the long run, this encourages tenants to take better care of the property.
The move-out inspection should be done hours after the tenant leaves. At this point, you should be documenting any existing damage and repairs that need to be done. The funds for these repairs should come from the tenant’s security deposit, so this won’t be an added cost to you. Once the repairs and touch-ups are finished, it will be time to welcome a new tenant, who will need to be wowed all over again by a clean property.
Don’t skimp on these inspections. If you need help, reach out to a property management company like Atlas Lane to get your property tenant-ready once again.
Keeping a rental property in good condition, even after your tenants move in, isn’t easy, but when you have a property management company like Atlas Lane to take care of finding tenants and scheduling home repairs, landlords can spend less time worrying about the details and more time spent focusing on their personal lives and careers. Atlas Lane takes care of everything else.