Children age- most wear and tear?

17 Replies

I know families are a protected class so you can't discriminate against a family and not rent to them because they have kids.

Let's say you had two families that were identical in every way except the age of their children, and you were going to rent to one of those families. Which one would you choose?

I'm sure there was a good reason why landlords were wary of renting to families with kids because they were concerned about the wear and tear a kid would create.

But, is there a specific age for kids where they tend to create the most wear and tear on a place?

I'll be curious to hear the answer. I know most landlords hate pets in their rentals but, as a spoiled-dog owner, I can attest that there are some people out there whose pets are MUCH less likely to ruin your place than any child under 8 years of age, lol. I think you can screen them easier too...and ask for big, non-refundable deposits.

I know when we were renting while looking for our Seattle home, we were quite willing to pony up a large non-refundable deposit just to have a nice place that would still allow dogs. In the end, she actually gave us ALL of our deposits back because we left the place in better shape that when she rented it to us. ;)

It's not the kids. It's the parents. The kids will do what they do unless the parents look after them, teach them right. If the parents are slobs, the kids tend to be slobs too. Make sure to call current and previous landlords. That is a very important step. Ask if they were returned all of their security deposit.

Smart Tech For The Smart Landlord
The Smart Way To Manage Your Rentals
Enjoy growing your portfolio without paying more for it. Unlimited units & easy-to-use apps.
Get Unlimited Units

As a mother and investor , I don't believe in a specific age for wear and tear since younger children may do something like write/draw on the walls and a teenager may punch a hole in a wall out of anger. It depends on the parenting.

But for those reason is why landlords should do inspections and insert a clause in your lease agreement stating such whether it's quarterly or twice a year. Inspections gives you the landlord a chance to see how the tenant lives whether clean or dirty/sloppy.

Regarding making a decision on selecting a tenant with the scenario you provided, for me it would boil down to who is best qualified based on your rental criteria (credit score, background, income guidelines)

Its not the age of the kids but how they are parented. That said, the 5 and under crowd would pose the most 'danger' to carpeting just because of the spill factor (again a parent who has rules and cleans up promptly won't be much of an issue). BUT teens (especially males) can be rough on doors and walls. So, that said I really couldn't pinpoint an age to be most cautious of. I have 6 kids, used to run a home daycare, and volunteer extensively in a private school pk3-6th and its the PARENTS not the kids that you have to screen carefully.

I have to say if it came down to it you can't help but be influenced by what you see when they look at the place. I had some well behaved children come with potential renters that would have helped the parents application. Others not so much. I am sure it affects how encouraging I am when I show a place. For age teenagers with legal trouble to me are the most risk. Teenagers in general are fine if the parents are around. to some extent it is the parents but for teens even the best kids can stray if left to their own devices.

Teens, Teens, Teens, I see it every day at work. They are evil and like tearing up things just to laugh about it. Gee lets throw entire rolls of T.P in the commode, defecate on it then see if it flushes. Lets piss on the floor and see if some one will clean it up. Oh the horror stories, I could tell. As said though, it all boils down to parenting. Though I'm not too convinced there's much of that going on today.

Amen to the posts about parenting... Short story - I was renting to an acquired tenant with 2 high school aged kids. She kept the apartment very clean, well decorated, etc etc. One day find out that her son was arrested on drug charges, and several weeks later I hear rumors from other tenants about her daughter being in trouble with the law. I didn't think much of it, until mom lost her job and quit paying me rent! I had to cash-for-keys her, but it's a good example of the parenting paradigm. Like parents like kids.

Visit the place that they now live in to see how it looks - that is one good way to "break the tie" between your applicants. If they live neatly now, you can hope they continue in that manner; if they are a mess now, that will probably continue to be the case.

Like everyone else said it's about the parents not the age of the kids. One of my tenants has a couple small kids and during a service call my maintenance guy alerted me to crayon all over the walls in almost every room. I went by to talk to the tenant and he said "My kid is 3, what do you expect? I can't beat him every single time he does that." That statement pretty much sums up every issue with the parents. Those tenants are in the process of being removed. I also have a 3 year old and he's never drawn on any of the walls because first he knows it's wrong and second he isn't given unsupervised access to crayons around the house.

Kids and adults of all ages can be slobs, haven't you watched the shows on hoarding, etc.? There's no magic formula. Little kids can only make messes, older kids can be destructive. That said, I have always had a house that was packed with kids at varying ages over the years. My house was always clean, and as we say in real estate "showed well". I've had xtreme motocross riders practicing in my backyard and they'd get filthy dirty, but when they came into the house, they took off their boots, changed out of their gear, and were clean as could be.

On the other hand I once rented to two families with NO kids (my house is BIG) that were related and owned a house cleaning business. I thought surely they'd be perfect... wrong! They thrashed my house worse than any kids ever did!

The point is, it depends on the adults, the rules they set for their house, and the routine they have. I would never balk at renting to a family with kids, unless they have terrible parents.

Originally posted by @Patrick L. :
I went by to talk to the tenant and he said "My kid is 3, what do you expect? I can't beat him every single time he does that."

"What do I expect? Supervision."

List, Screen, Lease, Get Paid, Manage.
No Better Place to Lease Your Place
Owners rely on the #1 rental site to get the best results from their rental properties.
Get Started Now

Supervision is something you expect comes from the parent and general cleanliness. A lot of it is parenting. That being said even your little angels are gonna test you the difference is how it is dealt with.

@Phillip Cailey I hope you are working at a detention center because if that is a school.

Absolutely good parenting skills and proper supervision are key.

We currently have a family we need to give walking papers to... a single mom and two girls (ages 9 & 8). Just sent them an invoice for $625 for damages and lease violations. It was paid by an enabling friend of theirs who is trying to convince us to let the family stay. We've been working with this family since they moved in two years ago. They improve their behavior and then they slip up again, and again, and again. It's time they go.

I'm thinking I need to add something to my rental agreement about parental supervision. Anyone have such a clause that you could share with me?

In my experience, you can find out a lot about what's happening in a property by chit chatting with very young children (ages 3 - 6) as you do property maintenance. They are likely to "spill the beans" and will tell you what they observe happening on the property. They are also less likely to lie than older children. If they do lie, it is easy to see through.

The teenagers will try to push the limits and can do more physical damage, especially if they start experimenting with smoking, drinking and drugs. Have you read about the "teen brain"? It can easily extend from age 15 to age 25... teens & young adults. The logic, critical thinking skills and risk taking behavior is different at this age (the insurance companies understand this).

I would do what Steve Babiak said. Check where they currently live. A call to their current landlord will clear a lot up! Ask specifics: how much was their deposit, how much will they be getting back, do they owe you money, what damage charges were there, would you rent to them again, etc.

With that said you cannot discriminate based on the age of the kids! You cannot say "3 year olds do more damage so I will rent to a family with teens". Age is another protected class (yes even the age of the kids). Odds are you wouldnt get caught but why put yourself at risk?

You need to find another way to decide which applicant to take that is not in a protected class and prior landlord referrals is a great way to do that. I would weight prior landlord referrals higher than credit and income.

I found this thread because I have a couple that want to rent a house from me. They each have 2 teenage boys from previous relationships, a total of 4. The boys only stay in the house part-time. As a concerned landlord, I find the advice in this thread very helpful. I will make sure to check previous landlords' references, try to observe how messy their cars are, and maybe even visit their current homes.

From personal experience, I agree with how important parenting is when it comes to teenagers' behavior. I had a tenant with an 11-year old boy. The parents were clean and organized, and no issues were found during final inspection. On the other hand, I had a 19-year old woman live in my house, who allegedly did not have good parents. She managed to tear off a bed leg, scratched the paint, loosened a towel rack, broke a toilet flush button, and the list goes on... She also had a boyfriend stay overnight for more than half the time (which is an issue on its own), but the boyfriend might have contributed to the damages as well.