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How do I make sure the tenant will take good care of my property?

By John Nuzzolese

One of the biggest concerns landlords have is how the tenant will treat the property. We all hear horror stories of what tenants can do to a rental. Many of us have lived through the torment of having our beautiful rental property destroyed by a bad tenant. The fact that we have invested great expense plus gallons of blood, sweat, and paint in the property only to see it trashed and desecrated by a tenant makes it even worse.

Some landlords still believe that finding a good tenant is a matter of luck, while more and more of us are taking steps to make our own luck.

So how do we protect your rental property from getting trashed by a tenant? There are a few very important steps to follow.

  • Complete tenant screening. It sounds like a no brainer, but how often do you do complete tenant screening? Part of your standard screening is to try your best to actually verify the past landlord's reference. Call him and talk about the tenant. Ask questions. The Landlord Reference Qualifier form can make it easier to do this.
  • Drive By. Another important part of the screening process is to actually visit or at the very least, drive by the property the tenant is about to vacate and assess the condition. Chances are the tenant will treat your property the same way he treats the one he's currently in.
  • Photographs & Video Before conveying possession to the tenant, maybe even at the lease signing, mention or show the tenant that you have dated pictures and a video of the property condition before occupancy. Having this supports you on the next powerful step in making sure the tenant takes care of your property.
  • Property Condition Report & Checklist Before turning your rental over to the tenant, I suggest you prepare a complete Property Condition Report to document the undamaged condition of the property. By having the tenant agree and sign this inventory and condition checklist, the tenant realizes he is now on record, not only by signing the lease, but also for signing this additional legal document, the Property Condition Report.
  • Security Deposit It is crucial that you take a substantial security deposit from the tenant before you turn over possession of the rental. Remember, the tenant will be in control and your property will be a hostage unless you have something substantial like a security deposit from the tenant.

By following these steps along with your normal screening process, you will become a landlord who has better luck with how tenants take care of your property. Remember, "Luck = Labor Under Correct Knowledge".

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