landlords rights when a tenant destroys property

A Tenant Destroys Property. What Are The Landlord’s Rights In This Case?

Having a tenant that damages or destroys a rented property is a nightmare for most landlords. They sometimes can’t sleep well at night thinking of it. You might have bought a property to let it and earn some money for your decent retirement or other life goals. But there are some tenants who simply don’t care about such life goals of yours and bring damages – unintentionally or purposefully.

In fact, according to some pieces of research and online polls of tenants, it turned out that the biggest part of them thinks of landlords as greedy, unfair, and heartless creatures who only need tenants’ money. Well, it is definitely not true (in all cases). The market of landlords in the US is at 75% filled with private property owners (rather than companies). They all are humans and an overwhelming part of them only wants to earn money in a civilized way.

So, can you deal with such negative cases as a landlord, and what are your possible actions?

Tenant destroyed rental property: possible reasons

No matter how well and frequently you screen your tenants, you can never ignore the possibility of damages. The biggest part of those happens accidentally and unintentionally – like bumping onto a plaster wall and making a hole in it or dropping something off their hands to crack a floor tile. Or, when driving off the parking lot near a garage and crashing the door with a bumper, confusing gears, making it pockmarked. For the majority of such cases, a fair and unaggressive conversation is enough to reimburse for the damages in either way – by gaining a direct cash payment or allowing a tenant to fix themselves.

But there are also cases when someone throws a party with a crowd of people and they smash your house. Or if a tenant got unlucky on their work or in life and decide to crash things down to release the steam of anger. Other frequent simple cases include tenants being a swine, dirtying your property with garbage to the ceiling, or swizzle and falling asleep with a burning cigarette in their mouth, causing a devastating fire.

There are things you can – and should! – do as a landlord in the cases of tenant damages to rental property.

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What to do if tenant damages property

Each state in the US and most countries other than the US have laws about damage to rental property. In the US, as a rule, all damages and destructions of a rented property that are not subject to normal wear and tear are the responsibility of a tenant. You can’t demand them to pay for flaking wall paint if this happens because of house oldness (and the lack of your regular care for it).

So let’s consider the cases when you clearly see the devastations. What you can do about them?

  1. Define the damage and document everything. Photo and video would be the best. Ideally, though, you should take pictures and videos of the property before letting a new tenant in – so as to compare with the changes. Also, don’t hesitate to conduct a paper list of all in-premises belongings in numbers, positions, and conditions to have a tool of counteracting with tenants who refuse to acknowledge the damage.
  2. Talk and negotiate with a tenant. In some cases, you can agree on compensation, as well as taking from a security deposit, should it cover damages.
  3. File for an eviction (after deducting from a security deposit, of course). Make sure to fully comply with the eviction rules in your area so as to conduct the procedure legally flawless.
  4. In the case of aggressive or reckless behavior, call the police.
  5. Consider “cash for keys”. Depending on a situation, you might pay a tenant yourself to evict them – to avoid bigger potential losses to your property (if you can’t stand the aggressiveness or roughness of a tenant and foresee more dangerous things coming). On the other hand, you might require a tenant pay to you so as to give their belongings back from a closed apartment. The second is not always legal and is most often in the ‘gray zone’ – that’ll depend on your ‘skills of negotiations’.
  6. Take legal action. You could end up paying thousands of dollars to your attorney and various court fees but you might then have some money legally recovered from a tenant, even by addressing to a bounty hunter company, at the worst. That will depend on the volume of your losses. You might also be wondering can landlord sue for damages beyond the security deposit. In most scenarios, yes! Primarily, if it is allowed by current legislation and/or the lease agreement.
  7. Go for insurance compensation. Needless to say, property insurance is a must when you let it. Surely, it takes some share of your profits away but it might fully cover you in such bad cases. It’s just don’t file for insurance too often if you don’t want the cost of your insurance policy to become exorbitant.
  8. Cash-out your property. In some cases, you just don’t have money or desire to repair the property or you need cash to cover your other expenses fast. In that case, you could address one of the companies on the market that buy out such properties. Consider this as the last resort since most such companies purchase damaged properties for only a fraction of their real cost. In most cases, they later restore and renovate those to let them to new tenants or simply resell with profit.

Final thoughts

What can you do to avoid/minimize damages to your property? Several things come up to mind:

  • Do a rigorous background check of all your future tenants and keep doing so on a periodic basis
  • Take the biggest possible security deposit (often, it’s legally capped to some max amounts)
  • Don’t put “all your eggs in one basket”
  • Do not furnish your property with too expensive things, damaging which would be heartbreaking
  • Come to a reliable property management company. DGY can help you find trusted tenants after your investment in property (if you don’t want to deal with all such problems and rude people on your own).


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More about DGY

DGY is a real estate investment and property management company. Our experts have an impressive experience in turning businessmen into smart real estate investors. We collect limitless opportunities throughout the world’s best real estate markets and help our clients implement the best deals. We take care of all due diligence and customize documentation while your income grows. We also provide you with property management services so you can forget about the tiresome maintenance of several objects and entrust this process to professionals.

Investment advice and recommendations

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Therefore, if you are eager to invest in Ukraine, it’s essential to have all the paperwork done correctly, and that’s the moment when our team of experts takes care of this step. DGY Investments helps investors buy real estate property, manage the paperwork, start preparing relevant documents for purchasing realty in Ukraine, and close the deal successfully.

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How to invest in Ukrainian Real Estate

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