Deterioration is expected at Las Vegas rental properties. With tenants living in your property, you can expect the normal wear and tear to occur there. Frequent tenant turnovers, extreme Nevada temperatures, and age will wear your home out. It’s why you keep up with preventative maintenance, conduct walkthroughs, and make upgrades and improvements as necessary.
Damage is different.
Damage is more than the lived-in look that comes with a rented property.
Usually, damage is unintentional. You might have a child throw a ball through a window or a tenant will leave the stove on and cause a small fire. Maybe the bathtub will flood or the air conditioning will break down because filters haven’t been changed in a year.
It may be unintentional, but it’s also expensive.
Tenant damage can be especially alarming. You’re trusting your residents to take care of your investment property and keep it clean and maintained. If they move out and you find thousands of dollars in damage left behind, it’s hard not to take that personally. You’re paying a lot of money to restore your property to what it was, and you’re also wondering if you can ever trust another renter again.
There’s always an element of risk involved in renting out a home. Even a well-screened, highly qualified tenant can be unpredictable. How can you protect your Las Vegas property from excessive damage?
We have some tips for how to do that, and we’re going to help you put a plan in place that protects the condition and value of your Las Vegas rental property.
One thing you should know: it’s actually pretty rare that excessive damage or vandalism is left behind after a tenant moves out of a property. But, damage does happen. Sometimes during a tenancy, sometimes after a tenancy.
Here’s how to best reduce the risk of Las Vegas rental property damage.
Make Sure Your Las Vegas Property Is Well-Insured
It’s easy to associate tenants with damage, but not all the damage your property incurs will necessarily be due to your Las Vegas residents.
You can find damage to your home from weather-related events, malfunctioning appliances, leaky pipes, and electrical problems. A flawed roof will invite property damage and so will excessive lint in a dryer.
This is why a good insurance policy is so invaluable.
Double-check your insurance policy so you’ll know you’re covered for some of the potential damage that can occur at your rental. You should have coverage for liability as well as the structure and systems of the home. When a covered loss occurs and damage is caused, you’ll have immediate access to adjusters and agents when you need to file a claim.
Screen Las Vegas Tenants To Prevent Damage
A lot of potential problems can be avoided with good tenant screening. A good screening process is a proactive way to reduce the risk of placing bad tenants who might make a mess of your property.
Wondering what to look for when you screen? You’ll want to take a look at all the standard things you’d look at during any screening process. Run your credit report. Verify income. Look for prior evictions.
To really get an understanding of how a tenant is likely to treat your property, however, you’ll need to talk to the landlord references provided by the applicant.
Talk to current and former landlords. This is perhaps the most critical step in the screening process when you’re trying to avoid potential tenant damage. Find out if there was any damage left behind or even excessive wear and tear.
Ask those references about whether the tenant was given a full security deposit refund. Ask if that landlord would rent to the tenant again. If the tenant has pets, ask about pet damage or lingering odors and messes. If your prospective tenants are unwilling to provide references and contact information, you should be wary. There might be something that they’re hiding.
Don’t forget that your screening process needs to follow all fair housing guidelines.
Put a Pet Policy in Place
We always recommend that owners are open to allowing pets. When you rent out a pet-friendly property, you’ll have lower vacancy times and more rental income. You’re likely to keep your tenants in place longer.
However, pets come with risk. If you think tenants can damage a property, imagine what an animal can do.
You may find yourself paying to steam clean or completely replace carpets because they’re full of pet odors. There could be fleas or large scratches on wood floors or walls. Landscaping could be dug up by dogs.
Always collect a pet deposit to protect yourself against the potential for pet damage. Write a pet policy into your lease that dictates how pets should behave, be contained, and cleaned up after. You don’t want fleas. You don’t want cats scratching at walls or dogs chewing through floors.
Frequent Walk Throughs Protect Against Damage
A thorough move-in and move-out walk through will allow you to document your property’s condition before and after the tenancy. Make sure you take a lot of pictures and record detailed notes.
We also recommend you walk through the home once during the tenancy. You’ll be able to look for deferred or unreported maintenance issues that can lead to damage. You’ll also have the opportunity to talk with your tenants and make sure the lease is being followed and the home is being kept clean.
Walk throughs will help you stay on top of any issues that may require your attention. You won’t have to worry about missing something and there are not likely to be any surprises after a tenant moves out since you’ve been monitoring the condition of your home throughout the tenancy.
Focus on Preventative Maintenance
You’ll reduce the risk of damage when you maintain your home preventatively. You won’t have to worry about deferred maintenance, unreported repairs, or surprise breakdowns in systems and functions when you’re proactively taking care of the property. Schedule annual HVAC inspections. Have your roof inspected. Make sure you’re keeping up with pest control and landscaping.
Preventative maintenance doesn’t guarantee you won’t suffer from property damage. But it will dramatically reduce the chance that you’re surprised by expensive damage.
Security Deposits Protect You From Tenant Damage
The security deposit you collect before a tenant moves in can protect you against the potential damage that can occur at your property due to the abuse, misuse, or neglect of your home. While you aren’t generally permitted to use the deposit during the course of the tenancy, you are entitled to hold those funds in case you need them.
As a landlord, you cannot deduct the cost of normal wear and tear from the tenant’s security deposit, but you can deduct the damage you need to address after the tenant vacates. If a door is ripped from its hinges, you can use the security deposit. If large holes are found in walls or floors, you can use the security deposit to replace them.
You need a security deposit that’s high enough to cover any potential damage that’s left behind after a tenant moves out. Most tenants expect to pay the equivalent of one month’s rent. In the state of Nevada, the maximum amount a landlord can charge a tenant as a security deposit is the equivalent of three months of rent. However, our experience has shown that charging the maximum you can will cause longer vacancies and many prospective tenants choosing another property over yours.
Require Renter’s Insurance for Las Vegas Tenants
You won’t necessarily protect yourself from damage by requiring renter’s insurance, but you might find a financial comfort zone if your tenants cause damage to your property. Renter’s insurance also benefits your tenants because it covers their personal belongings if the property is damaged.
If a tree crashes through a window during a bad storm and their electronics are damaged, they’ll need renter’s insurance to cover the replacement cost. More importantly, there’s also a liability element to renter’s insurance policies. If your tenant causes damage, your property insurance would cover it, but if it’s the tenant’s responsibility, they should be held accountable by paying for it with their own policy. This will keep your premium lower and your claim report clear.
When you have a good relationship with your tenants and you’re working together to keep your property well-maintained and in good condition, you won’t have to worry much about damage. We’ve found that if there’s going to be damage to your property, you’ll likely find it after the tenant who never requested any repairs has left.
Get inside your property. Talk to your tenants. Keep up with preventative maintenance. These are our best tips.
One of the best ways to reduce the risk of property damage is to work with a professional Las Vegas property manager. We have plans in place to prevent and remedy the risk of damage to your investment. If you’d like to hear more, contact us at New West Property Management. We’re passionate about the services and value we provide to the owners and investors who trust us with their properties. Our team expertly manages residential rental homes in Las Vegas and throughout Clark County, including Henderson and North Las Vegas.