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Tenant “Improvements”: When Residents Make Things Worse

As a property owner you want a tenant who will take care of it and honor the space as their own. Residents desire to turn their rental into a home which involves customizing the space, which we want but not when “customizing” becomes too much a leave the owner with expansive repairs and maintenances in order to make it rent ready again. Residents often take improvements or repairs into their own hands, which may result in damages or problems in the future that could be dangerous. Residents are motivated by personal satisfaction, artistic aesthetics, or a fear of paying for repairs are usually doing so without the proper knowledge of the repair scope or the permission or knowledge of their landlord.

The problem with residents making improvements or repairs themselves is that there is no guarantee that your residents know what they are doing. If they have little or no experience with home remodeling and maintenance, any improvements they attempt will most likely make matter worse. Certain permanent “improvements” go well beyond the ordinary, like new windows, or flooring, or moldings. Particularly if things are broken or are damaged, residents may be tempted to try and cover it up by either “fixing” it themselves or outright hiding the problem, that may be a hassle to resolve but also may be potentially against codes

While it’s true that ignoring or badly repairing small things may not matter too much, when it comes to the plumbing or electrical systems, windows, doors, or other structural features, neglecting to report damage or residents trying to patch things up themselves could lead to expensive repairs later on. For example, if a resident tries to replace a faucet or cracks an exposed pipe, a leak could start underneath, out of sight. Even a small leak creates the perfect environment for moisture to become trapped and for rot to develop in the walls or lower levels of the home, let only the growth of molds that put your tenants in danger. Over time, the flooring, walls, cabinets, and more could sustain serious water damage, leading to costly repairs.

Damaged exterior doors and windows also pose a serious risk to both residents and your property. If a window or door is broken or improperly installed, the security of the home is seriously compromised. The home’s interior is also left exposed to the elements, and may cause additional damage to interior walls, sills, and floors, let along the increased heating and cooling bills.

For this reason, it is important to encourage residents not to make improvements themselves and to report any damage as soon as it occurs. If they understand that any reported damage will be handled calmly and professionally, they will be more likely to report any additional incidents in the future. This communication with your tenants is something that both you and the tenant will be grateful for, and illustrates the importance of establishing trust and transparency between you and the tenant. At Real Property Management, we excel at handling resident improvements and reports of damage in just this way. We manage resident expectations and take care of all necessary repairs in a timely fashion. Would you like to learn more about Real Property Management’s services? Please contact us for more information.

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