Often times, landlords find themselves colliding with their tenants, especially when one of the parties fails to fulfil part of their bargain. Consequently, one of the parties finds themselves making a loss that would have been avoided.
Henry Kasirye, 54, is one such landlord who incurred heavy costs of refurbishing his two-bedroom house because of the terrible state the tenant left it in. While it is normal for landlords to refurbish houses after departure of tenants, Kasirye says he spent close to Shs1m on repair because the damage caused was unbearable.
“All the walls were scratched, tiles and door handles broken. The entire house was spoilt and I could not believe that a tenant could chose spoil one’s house to that extent. Some of the power sockets and wires had been vandalised and all doors had accumulated a lot of dirt,” Kasirye narrates.
For the two years that his tenant stayed in his house, Kasirye had never bothered to inspect the house to assess its status. “What hurt me most is that she even left without informing me otherwise if I were around, I would have asked her to pay some money for fixing the damage she had caused,” he says.
Kasirye’s experience is shared by many landlords who have lost millions to refurbish the damages caused by their former tenants.
Though some try to follow-up by involving the police to trace them, they are never successful.
Despite the loss which he incurred, Kasirye says he has since learnt to inspect all occupied rental houses to avoid being in the same situation again. He says he now does it quarterly but after seeking the tenant’s consent so as not to invade their privacy.
Why it matters
Issa Ssenyonga, a landlord, says when property owners make usual inspection of the tenants’ houses, they are able to realise any damage caused and embark on how to fix it when it’s still early.
When repairs are made, Ssenyonga says, a landlord can then engage the tenant on the relevance of keeping the house neat and also set rules on how they must reserve its beauty.
“One of the causes of this is that some landlords tend to get moved by money and fail to engage tenants on what is expected of them during their stay.”
Ssenyonga further explains that while some landlords and tenant might agree on the number of people to stay in a house, some tenants tend to flout the rules and bring in more people especially when the landlord does not reside there.
As a result, he says, a tenant might want to make temporary changes to the house to accommodate the new members which could result in damages.
“When you do inspections, you are able to know which tenant does what and then make a decision before the situation gets out of hand. Landlords ought to know that while they give out houses to tenants, It’s their responsibility to make inspections to update their status, and that of tenants,” he says.
How to avoid it
Ernest Bwesigye, a property consultant says while real estate is a lucrative business, landlords might not gain from it if they do not put stringent measures to be heeded by tenants. Bwesigye explains that some tenants do not bother to keep the house neat since they pay rent.
To avoid such occurrences, he advises landlords to embrace use of contracts to guide their transactions with tenants.
With a contract stating the penalties one could face in case of any breaches, Bwesigye says tenants will be careful with the house they are staying in since they will already be aware of the ramifications.
“The contract also ought to provide a clause which gives a landlord leeway to always do inspection of the tenants’ house. The usual inspections send a warning alert to careless tenants to keep the house neat.
By doing this, tenants are also able to engage you personally on what they feel or think about your house,” he advises.
Bwesigye further tips landlords to be on a safer side, they can always ask for rental bonds, which can be used for repair purposes in case a tenant damages a house.
A rental bond is a payment that is requested on behalf of owners of commercial houses from a signing tenant as financial protection in case there is a breach of the lease agreement.
At the end of tenancy, he says, the cost of repairs can be deducted from the bond in case any damage was made and then the balance of the bond given to the tenant.
But he says that most landlords have not yet embraced it because some prospective tenants are hesitant to deposit their money as bond.
However, a few who fear interminable fights with tenants over basic rental issues, are slowly taking it up to avoid making unnecessary losses.