When it comes to renting out a property, tenants are expected to do their fair share of upkeep to maintain cleanliness and overall integrity. Many rental contracts come with these stipulations laid out, and they vary in scope. For instance, some contracts dictate that landlords will bring in third party companies to clear the snow or mow the lawn, but some do not.
Other contracts meet the tenant halfway, requiring them to do minor maintenance around and within the property to make sure it is kept up to code and spec. When it comes to educating tenants about the responsibilities of property maintenance, it’s wise to follow a few key steps.
BE THOROUGH FROM THE START
The key to avoiding any issues with tenants regarding property maintenance is to be clear and concise from the start. This begins with drafting a detailed rental agreement that doesn’t hide anything, and allows tenants to see exactly what they’ll be required to do. From there, the two parties can negotiate (if possible) and reach a consensus.
The last thing any landlord should do is obfuscate these responsibilities, or drop them on the tenant after the agreement has been signed. Doing so can lead to a host of legal headaches and unnecessary conflicts which can be avoided from day one. Tenants should know what is expected of them, and be allowed to ask pertinent questions before they sign on the dotted line.
FOSTER AN OPEN DOOR POLICY
Landlords do best when they open up the lines of communication with tenants. The last thing either party wants is to deal with the other on a consistent basis, but if the two can strike up a healthy working relationship, it will prevent more problems from popping up down the road.
Landlords should leave pertinent contact info with tenants – where they can be reached, if problems arise. Many landlords who do not have time to keep tabs on a property will seek the help of a property management company such as Rentcore. We know how difficult it can be to manage a property, especially if you’re a landlord with multiple properties or a busy work schedule. Regardless of who is in charge, tenants should know who to contact when they’re in a bind, or need answers to pressing questions regarding property maintenance.
PERFORM AN INSPECTION
Even after the rental agreement has been signed, landlords should refrain from sitting back and thinking that everything is going according to plan. Inspections are a way for landlords to make sure that everything is on the up and up. They might be able to spot needed repairs that inexperienced tenants may not notice.
Second, it gives the landlord the opportunity to see how the property is being treated. Tenant behavior may cause issues that can erode the quality and health of the property, such as putting mattresses on the floor without a bed frame. Other behavioral patterns can lead to problems with plumbing, insect infestations, mildew and mold growth, etc.
The caveat is that landlords must adhere to a strict set of tenancy rules determined by their respective locale. They cannot enter the property whenever they want, and must adhere to guidelines, such as providing 24 hour notice before showing up. Even then, there are stipulations landlords must adhere to, but it’s still possible to schedule inspections and make sure things are running smoothly.
Bear in mind that it may take only a single inspection to determine that the tenant is trustworthy, and will respect and care for the property. However, it’s still good to conduct the occasional inspection to make sure they’re sticking with it. From there, landlords can communicate with tenants and remind them of their responsibilities when it comes to property maintenance.
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
Some tenants, especially young ones, are inexperienced when it comes to property maintenance. Don’t hold that against them. Rather, look at it from the perspective of a teacher/student relationship, and use it as a means to educate them about how to perform said maintenance.
Most of the time, the maintenance in question is extremely straightforward, and merely requires time. Mowing the lawn is not rocket science, and once a tenant is shown how easy it is, they’ll be ready to tackle the task without your help the next time ‘round. The same principle applies across the board – lead by example, and your tenants will become self-reliant and proficient. Not only will this boost their confidence, but it will gain your trust.
CONSIDER THE TENANT’S NEEDS
Landlords should remember that not all tenants have the same skills, and some simply cannot perform certain tasks. For instance, those with heart problems or other physical ailments may not be healthy enough to shovel snow after a major storm. It then becomes an issue of compromise, and finding a workable solution.
Don’t reject a potentially great tenant just because they might have trouble with certain aspects of property maintenance. There are always workarounds, and it’s better to have a AAA tenant incapable of performing certain tasks, rather than a problem tenant who refuses to perform any task whatsoever.
Great tenants will abide by the wishes of the landlord when it comes to property maintenance, provided it’s agreed on beforehand, and both parties know what is expected. The more open the lines of communication are, the happier both landlord and tenant will be.
For more information on how Rentcore can help handle the intricacies of a rental agreement, while managing your property as a liaison between you and your tenants, please contact us!