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It pays off to have your tenant feel at home in your property. You want them to love it there so they stay year after year, and care for the property as much as you would. On the other hand, the property is your financial investment, and some decorations can cause permanent damage to your rental unit. That is why it is important to think about this issue in advance. You can ensure that the tenant is aware of your expectations

If you maintain an open line of communication, hopefully your tenants will come to you if they have specific questions. If the tenant is asking about a specific kind of decoration, be sure you consider hazards outside of the decoration itself. How will the decoration be secured to the house, wall, or yard? If the decoration requires electricity, how will the power line be routed, and how will it be secured and made safe? How is the tenant planning to actually install the decoration, without endangering life, limb, or property? Here are some other factors to consider:

Outdoor decorations

While outdoor decor used to be limited to the month of December, the recent increase in Halloween festivities means that your exterior may be facing two rounds of tacks, hooks, and nails each fall. It is essential that if you decide to allow decorations like strings of lights, oversized inflatable decorations, and other exterior decorations, you specify exactly what is acceptable. You can prohibit the tenant from making any holes on the exterior surfaces.  Soffits, fascia, siding, and gutters can be fragile and easily damaged or dislodged by hanging decorations from them. Advise tenants not to climb onto the roof to hang decorations, for the sake of your shingles, the chimney, and their safety.

Indoor decorations

With several easy-to-remove hanging options on the market, a tenant need not put holes in walls in order to hang decorations. Test the products out yourself to see how well they work. Use your lease to inform your tenant of which hardware and adhesives are allowed or prohibited to avoid confusion and unnecessary damage to your home.

Christmas trees

Live Christmas trees can be a hazard if they are not kept watered. A dried out tree provides easy tinder for a fire, especially if lights will be used on the tree.

Fireplaces

A crackling fire evokes cozy thoughts. But are you willing to incur the risks of allowing your tenant to use the fireplace? Even if your unit includes a functional fireplace, you can prohibit the tenant from using it for a fire. If you will allow the unit to be used, be sure to indicate who is responsible for maintenance. A dirty flue represents a house fire waiting to happen. Having a gas fireplace does not relieve the landlord from making critical maintenance decisions. A gas fireplace should be inspected to ensure that the lines are not leaking, all seals are tights, and electrical connections are safe.

Because it is difficult to spell out every possible scenario, your lease should have some overarching rules that can address some general rules for seasonal decorations. Be sure that you include language to discuss:

  • making alterations to the unit

  • fireplaces, wood or pellets stoves, or the like

  • renter’s insurance, including liability coverage

Addenda such as these - which can all be found at ezLandlordForms.com - help to cover specific issues at a global level. This helps cover your home for large and small concerns, without having to explicitly name each hazard.

Thinking about holiday decorations ahead of time is the key to having a festive, and safe, holiday season.