SHOULD YOU ALLOW TENANTS TO HAVE RECREATIONAL ITEMS ON YOUR PROPERTY?
When summer comes around it gets hot and we’re all looking for some relief. As rental property owners, we can sympathize with tenants who are trying to beat the heat, but what should you do if tenants want to put up a small pool? What if they buy a trampoline for Junior’s birthday and now it’s sitting in your yard? What if the tenant’s son is poised to become the next Tony Hawk and all of a sudden there’s a halfpipe behind your driveway (yes, this really happened!)?
Regardless of your temperament and general flexibility, the correct answer is not dictated by your own disposition but instead by one simple thing: your insurance policy. And we know from over a decade in the game, recreational items on your property are rarely (if ever) covered by typical insurance policies. To allow these items on your property you are taking on a huge risk…so don’t do it.
WHAT YOU CAN’T CONTROL: INSURANCE
As alluded to, insurance will not cover you in the event of an injury or worse. If you decide to allow a pop-up pool and something goes wrong, you are liable and your fortune is on the line. You won’t be able to defend any suit brought against you and you’ll have to pay out of pocket. Same with a trampoline…if a kid jumps out and breaks a leg, guess who’s paying for his cast and medical bills? In a perfect world, there will be recreational options nearby, be it a community pool or playground; we want our tenants to be happy and we want them to enjoy living with us, but as with everything, there have to be limits.
Recently, a Nexus Property Management® technician was responding to a maintenance need at a property and noticed a kiddie pool on the pavement. It was a hot, hot day and there were a handful of 3, 4, and 5 year olds running around enjoying themselves. Because the scene didn’t look very safe, the technician called his general manager, who ran it by the property owner, who insisted it be removed immediately. There’s no doubt that we all want these kids to enjoy themselves as much as possible, but it’s simply not worth the risk.
WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: YOUR LEASE, YOUR PARTNERS
Nexus Property Management’s clients don’t have to worry about this quite as much because all of our leases include language forbidding recreational items on the property. If a client puts up a pool without permission, they are in violation of the lease. Of course, this isn’t a cure all, but it’s a good first step as a landlord.
Your active ability to form a strong relationship with your tenants is also of great value here. Where trust and consistency have been established, you’re much more likely to have tenants ask for permission rather than try to pull one over on you. Again, Nexus clients are at an advantage because professional relationships are highly valued by our teams. Additionally, we provide monthly property inspections which greatly decreases the odds of someone having a pool or trampoline without you knowing about it.
It’s not enjoyable to tell kids they can’t have fun, but it’s even less enjoyable having to shoulder a wrongful death claim. If your insurance covers pools, trampolines, bike ramps, ziplines, or whatever kids are hopping on these days, that’s great…but the odds are very much against that being the case. When you do break the bad news to your tenants, absolutely be transparent in telling them that it is 100% due to insurance. If you have any suggestions for local recreation or can provide some options for them, that will go a long way in showing that you do indeed care.
Want to learn more, or interested in becoming a client? We encourage you to reach out to our team for any and all of your real estate investment needs.
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Mick Lefort is the Vice President of Operations for Nexus Property Management®. A National Property Management Franchise that manages all types of rental property from single family homes or condos to large apartment buildings and complexes.
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