Renting out a property can be a smart financial move, but to ensure a good return on your investment, you have to be proactive about protecting the home. This includes taking many of the regular steps you'd take for your own house, but you also have to think about the potential behaviours of your tenants, taking their safety and comfort into consideration.
Perform scheduled maintenance checks on time—tenants don't always report hazards or necessary repairs. Examples of items to put on your rental property maintenance checklist include:
- Condition of ceilings (stains, sagging, or cracks can signal water damage)
- Secure, clean electrical outlets and light switches that turn on/off easily
- Doors and windows all open and close properly (prevents intrusions but also ensures tenants can exit in emergencies)
- Plumbing functionality and water heater temperature
- Smoke/carbon monoxide detectors work
- Roof and gutters clean and sound
- Go the extra mile to secure all doors and windows. For instance, installing frame pins, dowels, deadbolts, anti-theft devices, or keyed locks at the top or bottom of the entrance can make it harder for intruders to make their way into the property.
- Invest in good lighting, ideally with motion-sensing capabilities, to ensure the yard, parking area, and entrance ways provide ample visibility and awareness of those in the area.
- Keep an eye on nature. Overgrown plants, including trees, can give criminals something to hide behind and can send the message that you don't care about or aren't watching the property. Plants also can promote infestations of bugs, rodents, or other pests. The foliage shouldn't block the view of windows or doors from the street.
- Consider a security alarm system. Having one might mean you charge your tenants extra in rent to cover the expense, but it provides another layer of protection, connecting the people in your property to emergency responders.
- Register the property with local authorities to qualify for services such as city-based inspections. Establish good relationships with neighbours and community members so they can keep an extra set of eyes on the property for you and your tenants.
- Perform background checks on everyone you rent to. Be clear about the expectations and rules outlined in the lease and communicate openly. Don't wait to clarify issues or alert tenants to violations.
Completing these steps greatly reduces the liabilities associated with your rental property. Rather than rushing through each point, take the time to explore all your resources and options for superior results.