As a financial investment in your future, owning a rental property can be a great opportunity. Not only do you get a real estate investment but it also gives you a means of paying down your mortgage.
Unfortunately, owning a rental property isn’t always easy. Though you hope you’ll be lucky enough to find good, responsible renters, it’s common for landlords to rent to tenants who do damage to their property. It’s every owner’s worst nightmare, but it happens.
The good news is there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your investment after a disrespectful tenant damages it. Not only that, but there are even steps you can take to ensure it won’t happen again.
Dealing with a Damaged Rental Property
It’s one thing if a tenant leaves holes in the wall from hanging pictures or doesn’t do a good job of cleaning up when they move out, but it’s another to learn that your renter has left your home severely damaged. Here’s what to do if you’ve discovered your tenant is harming your property:
1. Assess the damages.
If you’ve been told, or have reason to believe, your renter is damaging your house, the first step is to arrange a time to visit the property and take it all in. Make sure you are providing your tenant with adequate notice regarding when you will be visiting the property.
2. Document everything.
If your renter is harming your home, videos and pictures are your best friend. Take pictures and videos of everything, from the smallest scuff to major damages. Even if something seems inconsequential, take a picture of it and make sure all video evidence is appropriate time and date stamped.
3. Get quotes for repairs.
As soon as possible, contact contractors and other industry professionals to come to assess the damages themselves. Make sure you get several estimates and keep copies of each one as well as any receipts you may have for consultation fees.
4. Contact your insurance company and the police.
Homeowner’s insurance may cover some of the cost of repairing the damages. Most insurance companies will also want to see the estimates you obtained, as well as a police report, so it’s a good idea to have law enforcement come out to file an official report.
5. Apply the security deposits.
In many cases, the cost of repairs will be more than the security deposit your tenant paid. That said, starting repairs quickly is a big help. Just make sure you’re following state laws regarding how the despot can be used and when you have to notify your tenant you’re using it.
6. If possible, talk to your tenant.
Assuming your tenant is taking your calls, discuss the damages with them. In some cases, there may be a good explanation for the damage. For example, the tenant’s child accidentally smashed a window when playing ball. In cases like these, you may find that the tenant is more than happy to pay for the cost of the damages.
7. Consider filing for eviction.
If the tenant is not cooperating with you per the terms set in their rental agreement, you may have to file for eviction. Though it can be a complicated process, it might be the only way for you to remove a tenant who isn’t holding up their end of the rental agreement.
8. Determine whether you want to take legal action.
If your tenant is not cooperating and the security deposit isn’t enough to cover the damages, you may need to take your case to civil court. As this may be your only chance at being compensated for the damages, you should consider hiring an attorney to help with your case.
How to Prevent Tenant Damage
Unfortunately, there’s no way you can ever be 100% sure that your renters won’t damage your property, but you can take steps to increase your chances of finding a good renter:
- Conduct a thorough screening and background check process
- Schedule regular property inspections
- Require a reasonably-high security deposit
- Check in with your tenants often
- Try to form a good tenant-landlord relationship
If you own a rental property that you’re tired of keeping up with, why not hire a property management company? Network Real Estate has an experienced, in-house property management team that can help make managing your long-term or vacation rental property a breeze. Get in touch with us at 910-395-4100 to learn more!