February 13, 2018

When a tenant damages your property, you are dealing with one of two situations. It was either on purpose or by accident. The extent of the damages can be the same, but the way you approach it is different for each situation.

When the Damage Was Done on Purpose

This means the tenant is upset. The tenant does not have any regard for you and wants you to suffer.

This all means that you are likely in a position where he will not be willing to pay for repairs or replacements. Insurance may be able to cover some of the costs, but it depends on the policy you chose through your agency. If this is not an option, you may deduct the cost of the damages from the tenant’s security deposit.

Before any repairs or replacements, you should take the next step – evict the tenant.

When a tenant causes serious damage to a property, it is a breach of contract. It’s the responsibility of the tenant to repair or replace any damaged property. If the tenant refuses, he/she will need to move out. If it’s possible to give the tenant 30 days, it would be best. However, if the tenant will cause further damage to the property, it may be wise to seek the advice of a lawyer and seek help from the court for eviction.

Accidental Damages

Accidents happen. When they happen with a tenant, he/she is responsible for repairing or replacing the damaged property.

Often, tenants will try to get the landlord to pay for the damage claiming it is wear and tear. The best thing you can do in this case reviews the damage with the tenant and get the story behind what happened. Take pictures, and then call around for an estimate on the repair/replacement. You may also want to ask for their thoughts on whether they believe it was wear and tear or truly damaged caused by the tenant’s own doing.

Repair/replace the damaged property and keep all invoices, bills, and documents. Send a letter to the tenant with details on the work that was done and total cost. The tenant should pay you if it was not normal wear and tear.

If the tenant does not pay, you can file a suit with the county clerk’s office to schedule a hearing. This will allow a judge to decide on who is responsible for the cost.

Act Swiftly and Confidently

This is one of the biggest fears of landlords, but don’t let that get in the way of handling this situation incorrectly. Act on it quickly and know your rights as a landlord. This will send a message to the tenant that you will not stand for this type of behavior, and there will be consequences if there is damage to your property.

At Rentometer, we support landlords in helping them find good tenants for their properties. Contact us if you have any questions on how we can help you run a successful rental property business.

If you liked this article, subscribe to Rentometer's email newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in rental housing.