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The 9 Rules a Tenant Is Most Likely to Break

What goes on behind closed doors? 1 in 4 tenants makes holes in the wall, mainly from nails – and 13% secretly replace damaged furnishings, fixtures and fittings.

NEW YORK – Landlords know that not every tenant is perfect, but a study attempted to uncover which rules they break the most. On the upside, they found that the most common offenses focus on decorating and aren’t too serious.

The top offense? One in four tenants make holes in walls – often from nails. It’s most common among renters aged 25 to 34, according to the tenant survey conducted by iProperty Management.

Also, one in five renters (19%) say they’ve completely redecorated a property without their landlord’s permission.

Interior decor aside, tenants have many times hidden pets from their landlord, though more men than women committed this infraction: 16% of male renters confessed to it compared to only 10% of females, the survey found.

In addition, not all renters submit maintenance requests and wait for their landlord to do repairs. Many take matters into their own hands, which sometimes costs them a notable amount of money. Renters surveyed said they’ve spent an average of $480 on maintenance and improvements – requests usually covered by the landlord. Men tend to spend more, an average of $528, or about $100 more than women.

Broken down by age, renters aged 35 to 44 invested an average of $586 in the maintenance and improvement of their rental, more than any other age group. The fixer-uppers say they’ve paid to replace old fixtures, while 61% spent money on interior-decoration maintenance and 52% spent money on maintaining their garden.

Overall, 28% of renters think there are too many rules for tenants, and 16% believe those rules are too strict. In addition, 33% of renters believe tenancy rules make their property feel like less of a home.

Rules most often broken by tenants

  1. Making holes in walls: 25%
  2. Redecorating: 19%
  3. Secretly replacing damaged furnishings, fixtures and fittings: 13%
  4. Keeping a pet: 12%
  5. Making a late rent payment: 10%
  6. Smoking indoors: 7%
  7. Changing locks: 6%
  8. Subletting a room or the whole property (long or short term): 5%
  9. Removing or disabling fire or carbon monoxide alarms: 4%

Source: “The Secret Lives of Tenants,” iProperty Management (2020)

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