What can you do if a tenant destroys your property? When it comes to tenant-caused damage, who pays? If you’ve found yourself asking these questions, you’re not alone. Many landlords have found themselves facing tough choices and big repair bills because their tenants did not adequately care for rental properties.
If this is happening to you, act fast. Ongoing damage can add up quickly, and if you don’t respond correctly, you could be on the hook for all of it. Here are three steps you should take when you have a tenant who is destroying your property.
Schedule an immediate inspection of the property
You are required to give at least one day’s notice before you enter a property to inspect for damage. However if the damage presents an immediate safety or structural risk, you are not required to wait, and you may enter the property an emergency inspection. If you want to make an emergency inspection, consider speaking to a lawyer about whether your reason for entry qualifies. If it does not, the inspection may be considered illegal entry.
Prepare and send a ‘Notice to Quit’
If your inspection reveals that there is serious or ongoing damage to the property, you should prepare and send a 3-day Notice to Quit. This is a notice that informs the residents that they have 3 days to vacate the property. After that, an eviction lawsuit can be filed if they attempt to remain in the property.
This is one of the shortest paths to eviction offered by the law. It is designed to work quickly enough to allow landlords to protect their property. It’s important to take advantage of this right and send them the Notice to Quit as quickly as possible. You can ask a lawyer for help, if you are not sure of how to properly prepare a notice.
Deduct all expenses from deposit
You should have retained the deposit that was specified in the lease agreement you signed with the tenant. Perform another inspection of the property as soon as the tenant has vacated. Itemize each instance of damage that needs to be repaired and deduct that from the amount that you send to the tenant. There may be nothing left over, and the tenant may even owe you money. When that happens, you should contact a property damage lawyer.
Contact a property damage lawyer
Property damage can quickly add up until it’s larger than the deposit, and eventually larger than the tenant can pay back in a reasonable period. That’s why it’s critical that you contact a lawyer as soon as possible if you discover that a tenant is causing continuing damage to a property.