One thing that landlords worry about most is damage caused to their property. Sometimes, accidental damage can be caused by good tenants, such as spilling wine on the carpet, or slight marks on the wall when moving in or out. However, there can also be times when tenants may cause malicious damage to a property so there needs to be strict boundaries in place.
What is the difference between accidental damage and malicious damage?
Accidental damage occurs unexpectedly and unintentionally such as spilling red wine on the carpet or making a dent in the wall if moving furniture around. In comparison, malicious damage happens when tenants cause damage and vandalism on purpose, such as smashing a wall, breaking a door or smashing furniture. This could happen through stress, at a party or just for fun.
There might also be times when tenants make holes in the walls to put picture hooks up for example. This is known as deliberate damage. Whilst the intention is to make the apartment more homely, you as the landlord might not appreciate these holes. To avoid this, the contract should clearly state what a tenant can and cannot do in a home and what type of damage will lead to the loss of their bond.
Wear and tear
Landlords should also consider the normal wear and tear of their property and not penalise tenants because of some scruff marks on a wall. It is true that the more short term tenants you have the more likely your apartment will get marked up and worn out. However wear and tear is a natural process so there should be some leniency for this, as normal owner occupiers would see wear and tear too in their own home. Expectations of wear and tear should be included within the contract.
How to reduce property damage
One thing a landlord can do is to keep tabs on their property by organising property inspections every three months, especially if pets are allowed in the home. These regular inspections will help to uncover any types of damage as well as to repair any types of property damage quickly. A landlord can carry out the inspection if they are personally managing the property, or get their property manager to do this for them and report back.
When a new tenant moves in, a condition report should also be completed to note down any previous damage or markings as well as complete an exit condition report once they move out. Photos should be taken as evidence.
Choosing the right tenants at the start is a very important step to avoid malicious damage. Potential tenants should be screened and interviewed thoroughly, with references carefully checked along with a credit and character check to avoid having bad tenants.
Every landlord should also take out Landlords Insurance. It is important to shop around first to ensure you find the right type of policy to suit your property with the right type of cover such as covering rental loss.
Whilst your property might not suffer from malicious damage, it is important that you as a landlord take precautionary steps to ensure that the likelihood of this happening to your property is kept to a minimum. It is your job as a landlord to outline your expectations to your rental tenants and let them know what is acceptable and what is not.
As a reminder, here are five steps you should be taking to cover yourself:
5 things you should do to cover yourself from property damage
- Take out Landlords Insurance
- Interview potential tenants and check references carefully
- Include terms in your contract about property damage such as no picture hooks in walls
- Organise regular property inspections
- Exclude pets if you are worried about damage caused by animals
Published on 24th of March 2015 by Marty Stanowich