Property

3 Ways Your Tenants Might Abuse Your Property When You Rent it Out

Joanne Poh

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You’ve spent the better part of your life paying for this property, which is as much an asset as a home to you. So of course, you’re determined to make as money as possible by renting it out.

But whether you’ll be renting out one room while continuing to live in the unit or leasing out the unit in its entirety, the last thing you want is to survey the place when your tenants have moved out, only to discover that the repairs you’ll need to pay for will take a huge chunk out of the rent you’ve received.

Whether you wish to maintain a friendly relationship with your tenant or let your agent handle everything, here are some things to beware of when renting out your property.

 

Leaving the air con on all day

We all know how hot and humid Singapore’s weather is. To make matters worse, your tenants are likely to have come from abroad, and will be used to more comfortable weather than ours.

So just be warned that it’s possible they will leave the air conditioning on all day long. Some simply “forget” or can’t be bothered to turn the air con off when they leave for the day.

Air con repairs can be costly, and besides, these machines cost a lot of electricity to run.

If this is a concern, you might want to state in the contract that the tenant will be have to foot the bill for air con servicing and repairs. If you already have a regular servicing schedule, you’ll want to tack this on as a surcharge.

And don’t forget to equip them with a fan to encourage them to use it as an alternative to the air con.

You might also want to sneakily quiz the tenant on their feelings about the environment. Those who express concern about the wastage of electricity in condo common areas, which are often lit up all all night long, or who lament the overuse of plastic in Singapore, might be more responsible candidates.

 

The number of people living on the property

If you are renting out an entire unit, be very wary if the tenant is one person who intends to sublet the extra rooms to other people, which is common amongst students and singles.

Because their main motivation for subletting the apartment is to lower their own share of the rent, some might be tempted to lease the rooms out to a higher number of tenants than you might be comfortable with.

For instance, an acquaintance of mine who studied in Singapore years ago rented a 3-room HDB flat, and then sublet the flat to at least five other students, who crammed themselves two or three to a room. The main tenant had converted the balcony into a bedroom for herself so she’d be able to make more money renting out the rooms.

The only way you can weed out such goings-on is to make frequent inspections of the apartment and lay down the ground rules as to the maximum number of occupants allowed.

And if you’re not even comfortable with that, then you might want to consider disallowing subletting, although this will limit your pool of potential tenants considerably if you have a multiple-bedroom apartment.

 

Bug infestations

You might have the habit of taking 3 showers a day and compulsively mopping your floor, but don’t expect your tenant to do the same.

Singapore’s hot and humid climate makes cockroach infestations VERY common. Your tenants don’t even have to be slobs to fall prey to a cockroach outbreak. Simply not taking out the trash after cooking can result in an infestation.

It gets a lot worse if you’re on a low floor, have a neighbour with an ongoing infestation or are renting out landed property.

Depending on your tenants’ personal hygiene and travel habits, you’ll also need to beware of bedbug infestations, which could lead to your having to replace all the mattresses on the property.

The situation tends to get worse when the tenants are living as flatmates in a shared property, rather than when the entire property is occupied by one family.

That’s because cleaning responsibilities are poorly-defined, and nobody wants to be the one to take out the trash or clean the floor when they’re convinced that they weren’t responsible for making the mess.

If that’s the case, you might want to convince the tenants to share the cost of a cleaner to pop in once or twice a week, or to simply work the cost of cleaning into the rent.

Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of asking for a security deposit that can cover cover the cost of repairs.

This is typically 1 months’ worth of rent for a year-long lease, and two years for a two-year lease. However, if you are giving the tenant certain concessions, such as lower rent, you might want to use that as a bargaining chip to ask for a higher security deposit.

Have you ever experienced any of the above problems with a tenant or housemate? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.