Tips to Keep Your Home (and Investment) Safe

keep home safe

Owning an investment is a huge commitment; managing it is an even bigger one. To be a successful landlord, there are a number of duties that you perform. In this blog, we at DeSantis Property Management will go over some tips to help you run a successful rental investment and keep the property safe.

Fill Vacancies Quickly

Having a vacant rental is not only bad for your financial bottom line, but it also presents certain risks. 

Your property may be at risk of getting vandalized or broken into. A thief could break into your property and steal valuable items, such as appliances and antique pieces. Your property could also be at risk of getting occupied by squatters. Homes that are furnished are particularly attractive. 

Water damage is another risk your vacant property could be susceptible to. Without someone to report maintenance issues, your investment could flood leading to a costly restoration process. 

Invest in a Home Security System 

Before you start renting out your property, invest in a home security system. This will not only safeguard your property against unwanted guests but will also increase the property’s desirability among prospective tenants. 

When prospective tenants find your property to be desirable, it may mean finding a great tenant faster. You can secure your investment property in a myriad of ways, including:

  • Upgrading the door locks
  • Installing an outdoor motion sensor lighting system
  • Installing security cameras 
  • Investing in a burglar system 
  • Securing both doors and windows 
judges gavel on top of a clipboard

Understand Your Legal Obligations

Tenants have a right to live in a habitable home. In other words, one that meets the basic health and safety codes. As a landlord, you’re responsible for providing your tenants with a secure home. 

Your tenant should feel safe when renting your home. At the very least, you should ensure all windows, doors, and locks are working as they should. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that you supervise handymen and other contractors as they carry out their repair or maintenance duties. 

Rent Your Property to a Great Tenant

Another way to keep your investment safe is by renting your property to a great tenant. A qualified tenant will, among other things, pay their rent on time, respect the terms of the lease, and care for their rented premises. 

To maximize your chances of renting to such a tenant, you need to have a thorough screening process in place. Screen each prospective tenant based on their income level, creditworthiness, criminal status, and rental background, among other things. And ensure that the process complies with Fair Housing Laws. 

Maintain the Property Regularly

Regular maintenance is key to keeping your investment home safe. As a landlord, you have a duty to respond to your tenant’s maintenance requests as promptly as possible. 

maintenance worker using caulk to fix bathroom grout

In the state of Pennsylvania, landlords are required to respond to repair requests within a “reasonable” time. If you fail to do so, the tenant may be able to withhold future rent payments, or repair the issue themselves and make appropriate deductions. Your rental maintenance checklist should evaluate the property’s interior and exterior. 

In the interior, make sure to pay attention to the doors, windows, lighting, floors, walls, and ceilings. Check for telltale signs of water, tenant, or foundation damage and seek help where necessary. For the exterior of the property, pay attention to things like lighting, roof condition, landscape, walkways, and stairways. 

Before accessing the property, make sure to provide the tenant with proper notice. A 24 hours advance notice will usually suffice. 

Require Renters to Have Insurance

Many tenants mistakenly think that the landlord’s insurance covers them against common housing issues. However, landlord insurance won’t cover your tenant’s personal possessions. 

That’s why it’s important to require tenants to purchase renters insurance. At the very least, the policy will help cover the tenant’s possessions against fire, flood, and theft. 

Require the Tenant to Pay a Security Deposit

Require all tenants to pay a security deposit prior to signing the lease agreement. The deposit will go a long way in cushioning you against potential financial losses including lost rental income, unpaid utility bills, and damage exceeding normal wear and tear

person holding a bunch of one hundred dollar bills

Note, however, that Pennsylvania requires landlords to abide by certain rules when it comes to handling tenants’ security deposits. To begin with, you must charge tenants the right limit depending on the length of the tenancy. 

If you sign an initial yearly lease with a tenant, the most you can collect as a security deposit is two months’ rent. For a lease that extends into the second year, you may charge up to one month’s rent as a security deposit. 

Another rule you must abide by is how you store the tenant’s security deposit. You have two options, either store the deposit in an escrow account or post a guarantee bond for the security deposit amount. 

You must also return the deposit, minus any allowable deductions, to the tenant within 30 days of the tenant moving out. 

Hire a Property Manager

Buying an investment property is a huge emotional and financial undertaking. As such, it only makes sense to protect it to ensure it generates as much rental income for as long as possible. 

Without the necessary time or experience, managing the property on your own can be risky. In such a case, hiring an expert property manager may be the best decision you can make. A good property manager will ensure you achieve peace of mind and optimum return on investment. 

Bottom Line

To be a successful landlord, keeping your home (and investment) safe is one of the most important things you must do. If you need help managing your home, turn to the experts at DeSantis Property Management. 

We’re a quality property management company in Pittsburgh. Our full suite of property management services will ensure you achieve your investment goals. Get in touch to learn more!