While you can't actually prevent your tenants from damaging your property in the USA, there are plenty of things you can do to protect yourself against this unfortunate eventuality. The safest course of action is first to secure the services of a good property
management company, and then to take out a landlords insurance policy.
The property manager will usually vet interested parties before allowing them into the property, thereby minimising the risk of you having neglectful tenants or those who will deliberately damage your home. The PMC will usually cross-reference prospective renters against a tenant database: if they have a history of damaging properties it will quickly be flagged up.
Obtaining a deposit, or bond, from your tenants is
another important deterrent. Most tenants rely on getting the bond back from
one rental to use as the deposit for the next home and will be wary of doing anything to jeopardise this.
As an the USA landlord, you are free to set your own bond as you see fit. However, the amount you charge will usually reflect the amount of rent you are charging, whether the property is furnished or
unfurnished and the value of the items in the home. The cost of any damage will then be deducted from this sum at the expiration of the tenancy agreement.
Some landlords request a relatively small bond for an unfurnished or
low-cost property (where the rent is less than $500 a month, for example). This will help boost the marketability of the property. However, you will still need to
take into account potential damage to fixed items such as the bathroom
suite or kitchen counter tops that can be costly to replace.
As a rule of thumb you should demand a
bond that will make tenants think twice about losing it, yet not so
expensive to risk frightening tenants away. Your PMC will advise you on the exact amount you should be asking for.
Accidents do happen, however, and a landlords building and contents insurance policy will protect you against any damage to both the structure of the home and the items within it. While it may be an additional cost to bear as an investor, the piece of mind this will grant you will be infinitely more valuable.