What Property Owners Should Do When a Tenant Damages a Rental

It’s an owner’s worst nightmare. A tenant damages your property, and now you are stuck with a hefty repair bill. What if your tenant refuses to take accountability? Dealing with the out-of-pocket expenses of bad resident behavior can deplete cash reserves and ruin your rental property returns.

Let’s explore your legal options as a property manager to protect your properties and when it’s applicable to apply your security deposit. We will also look at what to do if you have to take your tenant to court and how Salt Lake property management companies can help.

Flooded interiorWhen Accidents Happen

When combining Salt Lake rental homes and renters, accidents can happen. In many instances of tenant-caused damage, a renter did it by accident and will work with you to resolve the problem.

However, when someone is renting your space, you might not know which step to take first to make sure you don’t lose money—even when accidental damage happens. For example, a tenant puts an oversized comforter in the washer and dryer, and the belts break, a leak starts, and your rental suffers from a small flood. Not only do the washer and dryer need repairs, but wet floors and drywall could lead to mold or mildew issues.

When the tenant admits they were at fault, Salt Lake rental property owners can work with them to resolve the issue and recover repair costs. Taking a proactive (yet amicable) approach to examining the damage, making repairs, and working with tenants to cover the expenses helps investors build better long-term relationships with residents (and maximize ROIs)!

What’s First?

A property owner should start by filing a claim with their landlord’s rental property insurance company. Depending on your policy, you could receive compensation for some or all of your costs for repairs. If your resident suffered damage to their belongings due to the rental property’s damage, they should work through their rental insurance policy to receive compensation.

Document all damage right away, so take plenty of pictures and video if applicable. These images can help substantiate your claim and are helpful if the tenant changes their mind about their responsibility for causing the damage.

After getting a few estimates for the damages, discuss these with your tenant. Ask if they want to use their security deposit, pay for it themselves, or work through their insurance. Landlords can also work with residents to pay a specified amount over the regular monthly rental amount until they pay off the costs for repairs. Document this type of payment plan with a short-term addendum to the lease agreement.

Considering flexible options and keeping a professional approach helps Salt Lake City rental property owners maintain positive tenant relationships.

When residents cooperate, taking care of tenant damage doesn’t have to be a headache. What if they won’t pay for the repair? What if they say they are not to blame? Property owners must take a different approach. 

It is your fault!When a Tenant Does Not Acknowledge Fault

Sometimes bad residents cause damage intentionally. If it’s an accident, difficult residents won’t admit fault or work with you to cover repair costs.

If the tenant is still at your residence, assess the damages, consult your lease, file a claim in court, and when necessary, start the legal eviction process. If the judge rules in your favor, you can file a judgment against your tenant and pursue compensation while removing them from your property. You might also be able to use their security deposit to help cover repair costs.

As we already mentioned, reach out to your insurer to file a claim. Depending on the nature and amount of damage and the terms of the lease agreement, let your lease guide you through the appropriate actions to take when bad renters caused rental property damage. Ensure you document all conversations for evidence and work with your legal counsel to follow the legal process for dealing with the situation. A property management company can also help manage all of these scenarios, coordinate repairs, and help you find a new quality renter as soon as the property is ready for new residents.

Salt Lake Property Managers Handle Tenant Damage

Most tenants will generally work with you and admit fault if they broke an item in your rental or caused damage. However, sometimes difficult residents won’t cooperate, and property owners have to take legal action when damage happens. Work with a local real estate lawyer and property manager to understand the laws in Salt Lake when handling tenant damage. Reeder Asset Management can assist with these tasks and ensure the damage is handled quickly and efficiently. When your property suffers costly damage, isn’t inhabitable, and a bad tenant refused to pay the rent or compensates you for repairs, we know that’s valuable income out of your pocket!

If you’re struggling to manage renters or you’re dealing with tenant damage now, let’s talk about how we can help you protect your properties and maximize returns!

For more insights into protecting your rentals, download our free resource, “Protecting Your Investment Property: A Guide.”

Posted by:
Reeder Asset Management on July 2, 2021