A hostile is every landlord’s worst nightmare, an angry tenant who destroys the property because he or she is mad about eviction proceedings. Tenants like this figure they have nothing to lose and get revenge on the mean landlord by causing thousands of dollars in damage to the structure and breaking or stealing appliances.
From smashing windows, tearing up carpet, punching holes in the walls and ripping out appliances, an angry tenant can really cause damage to the rental.
When faced with this situation, landlords have few options.
Steps to take when tenant damages rental property:
The first step is to identify the situation. Do you actually know 100% that the tenant is destroying the property? Are you upset and susceptible to emotional decision making? Have you had any past issues with the tenant in question and how will that change the way you approach the tenant.
Is this situation something you can control or not? In this particular case, it depends on the landlord.
Many times landlords get upset but they don’t actually take control of the situation. Don’t waste time worrying about the situation but take action to take control of the situation.
A great first place to start is to get into the rental to inspect it. You’ll need to give the tenant a 24-hour notice. I’d suggest posting the notice on their door and call them 24 hours in advance.
When you go through the rental, document any damages (read below) and assess the situation. Your lease is going to be crucial to moving the situation into the “circle of influence.”
If you’re unsure on how to use your lease in this situation you can consult with a lawyer, which again is a way of taking action and categorizing into the circle of influence.
You want to eliminate this issue. That doesn’t necessarily mean eviction in this hypothetical scenario. It means getting to the bottom of the situation and eliminating the actual issue.
Is the tenant causing damage?
Perhaps they’re playing Grand Theft Auto really loud and the upstairs neighbor thought they were smashing things.
Or… maybe they are damaging the property. If this is the case, commit to taking care of the issue.
The hardest situations are the ones we tend to avoid the most. A situation with a destructive tenant certainly classifies as a difficult situation.
It’s natural to want to avoid this but you need to commit to a time you’ll take care of it. In this instance, the best time is ASAP because you don’t want further damage being done to your rental.
4. Get Your Emotions In Check
This is tough to do when you’re in a situation where you feel taken advantage of. However, when landlords make emotional decisions it can be costly.
Locking your tenant out of the rental is not a good solution and you could end up paying them for each day they’re locked out of the rental.
Take a moment to get your emotions in check so you can follow the proper procedures.
What To Do When A Tenant Damages The Rental Property
1. Make Sure You Document Everything
Regardless of the offense, if anything crazy happens to your property make sure that you document it properly. Here are some tips to do just that:
2. Take Pictures and Video
As soon as you discover the damage, grab your video camera and still camera and take video and pictures of every inch of the rental property. This documentation is valuable in establishing the level of destruction for a future court case. Make sure the images have a time stamp and date stamp on them.
3. Gather Bids for Repairs
As soon as you can, invite experts in to provide estimates on how much it will cost you to restore the unit to its original condition.
Keep copies of the bids and subsequent invoices for your court case.
You should proceed quickly to get the rental property ready to lease again to minimize your financial cost.
4. Deduct from the Security Deposit
Don’t forget to still follow the laws of your state when it comes to refunding the tenant’s security deposit.
While the cost of repairs in an event like this will more than likely exceed the amount of the deposit, you are still required to send an itemized list of repairs with the costs deducted from the deposit to the tenant within a set number of days.
5. Law Enforcement and the Courts
Once you document everything, you still need to seek legal help.
Here are a few tips if you decide to take legal action:
1. Call Your Local Police
Always contact your local police department to report the damage and destruction. This helps you with official paperwork to document the event and see if there is enough to lead to an arrest.
Note that just because you file a police report, it doesn’t mean there will be an arrest or criminal charges. If the damage is significant enough and numerous valuable items were stolen, the police may consider it a criminal case and file charges.
It’s possible that charges such as criminal mischief could be filed. If there are additional illegal elements that are tied up with the damage, such as making meth in the unit, the police are more likely to take action.
2. Seek Restitution via Civil Court
Often the police department won’t make an arrest in cases like this so your other option is to seek restitution via civil court. This means you file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the cost of repairs of the damage.
It’s best to get an attorney for this action and realize that the process can take a while to work its way through the courts. If the former tenants were having trouble paying rent in the first place, it is likely you won’t recover much in the long run.
3. Contact Your Insurance Company
Your final course of action is to contact your insurance company if the damage is extensive enough. You may be covered under certain conditions for some or all of the cost to repair damages.
Your insurance company will also want to see a police report, so make sure you have copies to send. Your insurance agent should be able to work with you on exactly what else you need to do.
Landlord Rights Over An Angry Tenant That Destroys Property
A landlord has rights when tenants destroy their property and this usually comes in the form of financial repayment. The first step is to document the damage and serve a notice to the tenant.
If the tenant is evicted or already abandoned the property the landlord can deduct money from the security deposit. If the damages exceed the funds in the security deposit the landlord can sue the tenant in small claims court.
When a tenant damages property eviction is a legal recourse. You’ll want to make sure you follow the proper eviction steps which include serving a proper eviction notice.
If a tenant is severely damaging a rental property they are violating the lease and may be evicted for this infraction. Don’t want or there could be further damage accrued during this period.