Advantage Property Management Services manages both single-family and multi-family rental investments in San Francisco’s East Bay, serving cities in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, including but not limited to San Ramon, Danville, Pleasanton, Livermore, Dublin, Castro Valley, and San Leandro.
All real estate investors worry about the potential damage a tenant can do to their property. There are a few easy things you can do, however, to avoid tenant damage. Let’s focus on six steps we feel are important to take to protect your investment.
1. Update and Repair the Property
You get the tenant your property deserves. High quality properties will attract high quality tenants who will take care of your investment. Properties that haven’t been updated tend to attract tenants who have no other option but to accept an outdated property. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’re bad tenants, but it could mean that they don’t value high quality finishes.
When your property is attractive and updated, you’ll have an easier time placing tenants who will maintain the property. It goes beyond a fresh coat of paint on the walls and new carpet. Tenants want modern finishes and features. Walk a new, model home to get a sense of what the trends are. You’ll find granite or quartz counters, laminate or wood flooring, brushed nickel hardware and recessed lighting. You won’t find 1980’s style tile countertops, brass hardware, carpet throughout and surface mounted light fixtures.
2. Provide a Rent-Ready Property
Your property should be in move-in condition before you take any marketing photos or schedule any showings. Having it clean and smelling fresh when tenants come to see it tells them you are a responsible property owner who will be responsive to their needs when they request repairs.
3. Exceptional Advertising
Today’s tenants are visual; they look at the property photos first. Making the effort to get professional, high quality photos and video will attract high-quality tenants who will care for your property as if it were their own home.
Write an ad that’s informative and engaging by answering the prospects primary questions in the ad copy. State when the property will be available, how many bedrooms and bathrooms it has, its square footage, whether or not pets are accepted, and what updates or upgrades have been made to the property.
If too little information is provided, you’ll spend a lot of extra time fielding unproductive inquiries, and again, the prospective tenants might wonder what is wrong with the property. Provide too much information, and nobody will read it. Also, it’s important to ensure the ad copy doesn’t violate any federal or state fair housing laws. A professional property management company can help you with this.
4. Screen Tenants Thoroughly
The best way to avoid tenant damage to the property is to find great tenants. You find great tenants with thorough application screening and previous landlord references. Run your own credit and background checks (never accept printouts from the tenants,) or contract with a professional company that can thoroughly investigate a prospective tenant’s background. Trust the information you receive, but always verify it. Make sure your rental criteria are in writing and follow it every time to minimize the potential of a fair housing claim.
5. Create a Strong Lease
It’s best not to download any lease template from the Internet as your lease agreement needs to be compliant with California laws, requirements and required disclosures such as those for bed bug, fireplace, flood, lead paint, and others. The lease must also reflect your expectations for the tenant, their responsibilities, and any consequences if they damage the property.
6. Conduct Regular Property Assessments
Perform interior and exterior property inspections at least once, if not twice per year. These assessments will provide you with an opportunity to evaluate the condition of the property and ensure the tenants are following the terms of the lease.
Be sure to give the tenants at least 24 to 48 hours’ notice of your intent to inspect the property. Try to schedule the assessment with the tenants in attendance as well. You don’t want to invade the tenant’s privacy and be accused of violating their right to quiet enjoyment of the property.