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Landlords: Determining charges for property damaged by tenants

Tenant Property Damage and Leases

Each state has its own laws in place to protect you from unruly tenants, yet your best protection is the lease that is signed. It is ultimately the tool that you will use to protect yourself and recover losses you suffer.

The following are common sense tips that will help protect you and your interest:

  • Even if you're anxious to lease the property, take your time vetting potential tenants. Pull a credit report and examine their rental history. Utilize public records in order to learn more about lawsuits, judgments and criminal background. In the long run, you're better holding the house for a month or two rather than renting to a tenant with a troubled past.
  • Take photos of every room prior to allowing a tenant to move in. Detailed pictures can serve as evidence of the home's condition.
  • Make sure the lease contains clear language as to who is responsible for repairs -- large and small -- as well as who will be taking care of issues such as a lawn care.
  • Include a clause that fully outlines the condition in which you expect to find the property at any time during the lease. For example, if you don't want a speed boat in the driveway, make it clear.
  • Cover things tenants can and cannot do. For example, "There will be no painting without the express consent of the landlord."
  • Include a passage that indicates your intention to keep the security deposit in the event that there is damage to the property.
  • Perform a walk-thru with the tenant prior to move-in and another at move-out. Ask the tenant to sign a document indicating the completion of the walk-thru.
  • If you have any questions about your rights, a good place to begin is The Landlord Protection Agency.

More tips like this one ...