Ways to Prevent Tenants from Damaging Property

Perhaps one of the more challenging aspects of owning single-family rental properties is dealing with property damage. Sometimes tenants can be very hard on a rental house through negligence, resulting in increased maintenance and costly repairs. But there are other ways that a tenant could potentially damage a rental house, sometimes without even knowing it. Whether the tenant wants to make changes to the property without permission, attempts to fix broken items themselves, or ignores small problems until they become big, expensive repairs, rental property damage sometimes seems inevitable. But it doesn’t need to be. There are actually a number of ways that property owners can help prevent rental property damage and reduce the costs of upkeep and repairs at the same time.Hand holding paintbrush with blue paint dripping all over.

Tenant "Improvements"

It is well known that people who make the best tenants are usually also people who care a lot about the appearance and function of their rental home. But when a tenant cares a little too much, or tries to take matters into their own hands, things can quickly go from bad to worse. For example, some tenants want to personalize their rental home by remodeling one or more rooms in the house. However, if the tenant does not have the right knowledge and experience, those “improvements” could create a big, expensive mess. In other cases, a tenant may attempt to fix a small problem on their own, thinking that it is not important enough to trouble the landlord with. Of course, small leaks and other issues can quickly become big problems if they are not correctly or quickly repaired. Other issues may arise from tenants misusing your rental property or appliances. In some situations, the tenant may unknowingly damage the property’s appliances or surfaces by using or cleaning them the wrong way. Either knowingly or unknowingly, tenants can cause damage to the property or allow others to do so. For example, some tenants are in reality professionals looking to use a house they have rented in an illegal subletting scheme. Either way, the property owner usually gets stuck with the repair bills.


When it comes to tenant damage, prevention is the key. There are quite a few things that property owners can do to help reduce or eliminate certain types of property damage. For example, providing tenants with a convenient way to report small maintenance and repair items – and handling those reports in a quick and professional manner – can encourage them to report earlier and more often. Catching small problems right away can definitely help you avoid big repair bills later on.

Educate Tenants

Another way that you can prevent rental property damage is to educate new tenants on the proper use and care of the property’s surfaces and appliances. You may also encourage them to perform a few small maintenance tasks as well. Some renters simply do not know how to use appliances without causing damage, or may not realize that how they are using them will wear the appliances out faster than necessary. They may also not know that harsh cleaners and other substances can permanently damage countertops, floors, and other surfaces. In such cases, a little information about proper care and maintenance can help to protect and extend the life of your property’s appliances and surfaces.Man filling out tenant application at desk with woman on other side.

Tenant Screening

Finally, to keep your property safe from scammers and tenants who want to sublet it to make money, it is important to have a comprehensive tenant screening process in place. Property owners can also ensure that their rental house is being visited on a regular basis, and check for illegal listings on sites like AirBnB. Property owners should also include clear, specific language in their lease prohibiting short-term subletting of the property, and take immediate action if such activities are discovered. Ultimately, reducing property damage helps increase your investment’s profitability and longevity. Being a successful single-family rental homeowner requires thinking about the long-term consequences of any situation. By taking simple precautions, rental property owners can significantly reduce the amount of property damage caused by their tenants and protect their property values year after year. For more information about how the right property management company can help you reduce tenant damage, contact your local Real Property Management office today.

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