What to do if renters trash your property
Unfortunately, even the best landlords can find themselves in horror story situations in regards to their property and renters. As many landlords have discovered, sometimes even a comprehensive background check couldn’t warn them that the seemingly nice renters would wreak so much havoc. For some, it was even family or friends they thought they could trust.
While each situation is unique, here are some general tips about what to do when renters leave your property in shambles.
Stay In Communication
While this isn’t possible in some cases, especially if your renters trash the place and then disconnect their phones, try to stay in communication with them. As a landlord, you should have gotten their contact information. This includes phone numbers and email addresses, name and contact information of their employer, and an emergency contact number (usually a family member or relative). If you can’t get a hold of the renters directly, contact their employer or emergency contact to figure out where they are.
Especially if your property was damaged terribly, you might be tempted to scream and call names, but try to stay professional and civil. For some renters, all you need is to calmly discuss the damages that occurred and how those will be fixed for the situation to be managed without having to take things to court.
Document Before and After
Hopefully before they moved in, you did a thorough inspection of your rental property. Ideally, the landlord should have carefully taken down all the condition of each room. This includes small things like dented window blinds and scratches on the walls or floors. Taking pictures of the rental condition beforehand helps show just how much damage was caused by the renters’ time there.
Even if you didn’t log the condition before the renters moved in, make sure to take pictures of the damages and mess they left behind. The more careful you are about documenting makes it easier to prove your case against them.
Minimize the Damages
For tenants that refuse to take responsibility and have wrecked the property beyond normal wear and tear, landlords have to minimize (or mitigate) the damages done. The landlord should fix and clean up as much as possible, with the time spent being recorded as part of the repair cost. You can then go to a small claims court and get a court judgment (or file a suit) against them for all damages that weren’t covered by the security deposit, including repair cost and unpaid rent.
Sometimes, the damage is so severe that the time required and cost of repairs is beyond what you’d get from the renter even if they paid up. In those cases, consider selling the rental to a professional company like Elite House Buyers, who will buy it from you even if the property has been trashed and is in need of major repairs.