With a tenant in your rental property, you can’t avoid damage, wear, and tear completely. For instance, the carpet will probably be worn down a bit, even if your tenant doesn’t wear shoes in the house. The carpet will also likely fade a bit and you could end up with hair dye stains in the tub. The walls will be a little scuffed where furniture was and of course you’ll have some nail holes to fill in.
All of these issues are unavoidable to a certain extent, but the following tips will help you keep your repair tasks to a minimum.
Set rules for how many nail holes a tenant can put in each wall
Filling in a few nail holes isn’t a big deal, but excessive nail holes can add up to an overwhelming repair job.
One way to control the amount of nail holes in the wall is to set a limit. Some landlords only allow tenants to hang one item per wall. This is a good strategy, but it gives tenants the freedom to hang things that require multiple nails and/or screws. Some tenants routinely change their décor and make new nail holes in the process.
To avoid excessive nail holes be specific and allow only one nail hole per wall and require your permission to hang something that uses multiple holes (like a TV mount).
Some tenants might not realize they can hang things on the wall without creating a hole. Give your tenants ideas for nail alternatives and list them in your lease. For example, there are hook-and-loop fasteners (like Velcro), poster putty, adhesive hooks, and other cool pieces of hardware that won’t leave a hole in the wall.
Prohibit using screws and large nails in the walls
Your tenants won’t always make the right decisions about picture-hanging hardware. In a perfect world, all tenants would opt for the thinnest nails possible to hang their artwork or photos on the wall. In reality, some tenants use masonry nails and large screws.
There’s no logical reason to use a giant nail to hang a picture. Tenants who use huge nails probably do so out of convenience and don’t realize they’re destroying the walls.
To prevent unnecessary large holes, prohibit tenants specifically from putting large nails, masonry nails, and screws of any kind or size in the walls. To go one step further limit all nails to a specific size and type. By specifying a nail size and type, your tenant will feel compelled to buy those nails and you’ll know what kind of holes to expect when they leave.
Prohibit smoking and vaping in the home
Everybody knows that cigarette smoke damages paint, walls, drapes, and turns everything yellow. The nicotine and various other chemicals are to blame for the damage.
Cleaning a house after a tenant regularly smoked inside is hard work and usually requires a new layer of paint. Even after a thorough cleaning, the smell can linger and put off potential tenants.
Provided your tenants honor their lease agreement, prohibiting smoking will prevent you from having to clean up after a smoker and the unit will be easier to re-rent.
Vaping inside a rental unit can also cause damage to the walls and ceiling. Vape smoke isn’t just a misty cloud of nothingness – it also contains nicotine and will gradually coat everything it comes into contact with. Vape residue also picks up dust and dirt, which will show up on the walls. Vape smoke contains less nicotine and damage won’t accumulate as quickly, but it’s still a problem.
E-cigarette residue travels further than you think
Do you rent a duplex with a connected HVAC system? If so, banning smoking and vaping is critical. Cigarette smoke and residue exhaled after vaping will travel through an HVAC system.
Tests have proven that the residue exhaled after vaping travels far and accumulates on surfaces. Reuters reported on a study performed at a California mall that discovered e-cigarette chemicals traveled from a vape shop to the business next door.
Researchers placed cotton towels, paper towels, and terrycloth towels in certain areas around the vape shop and in the adjacent business. All towels were tested for nicotine and other chemicals after days one, four, and eight as well as after one, two, and three months.
Test results found that residue traveled to the adjacent business due to a shared HVAC system. The residue collected on the towels and the amount of nicotine and other chemicals present in the towels increased over time.
Researchers placed control towels in the mall hallway and none of those towels contained any detectable amounts of nicotine. The traveling residue was caused by the shared HVAC system.
Remind tenants that holes are not considered “normal wear and tear”
Normal wear and tear refers to light wear and tear that occurs under natural circumstances. For instance, walking on a carpet for five years will inevitably wear it down. Opening a cupboard door for three years will put stress on the hinges and they might become loose or bent and need to be replaced. However, there’s nothing natural about shoving a drill bit through plaster and creating a hole.
Make sure your tenants are aware that holes in the wall don’t constitute “normal wear and tear” and they will be held responsible for repairing any and all holes.
Let your tenant know that if they choose to hang anything on the wall (within your allowable limits), the cost to fix the holes will come out of their security deposit. As an additional safeguard, explicitly forbid your tenants from performing their own repairs to fix any holes they’ve created.
If you don’t explicitly forbid tenants from fixing holes in the wall, they’ll put plenty of holes in the wall thinking they can do a quick patch job when they move out to avoid losing their security deposit.
Does handling damage frustrate you? Green Residential can help
If you’re frustrated from dealing with damage, we can help. Our expert property management services are designed to handle the nitty gritty duties of being landlord. From rent collection to repairs and maintenance, we give Houston landlords peace of mind. Contact us today for a free analysis to discover how we can help you achieve that peace of mind.