You’re doing a routine inspection of your rental properties when you discover a horrible sight: your tenant destroyed the house. The carpets are ripped up, appliances are missing, litter is strewn everywhere, and the list goes on. No matter the reason, their behavior is unacceptable, and they have broken their lease agreement.
As disheartening as it is, remember that you’re not the first and, unfortunately, you won’t be the last landlord to have a bad tenant — it seems like every landlord has a horror story about a bad tenant. But that doesn’t mean you have to put up with it. You have rights as a landlord and are protected by the lease.
We’ll discuss how to handle a tenant trashed house, the eviction process, and what to do if you want to sell the property.
Know your rights as a landlord
It is likely that you had indications that this tenant wasn’t a good tenant before they trashed your property. You’ve also probably tried multiple methods to try and solve the problem. Evidently, they refused to change their behavior, so now you have the right to evict them.
When your tenant signs their lease agreement, it lets them know the expectations as a renter and outlines what will be deducted from their security deposit. This agreement also protects you should they not keep up their end of the deal. By trashing your property, they have broken the contract and won’t be getting their security deposit back. But before you do anything, there are some steps to take to protect your investment:
Document the damage inflicted by the tenant by taking photos and videos of the property. This includes any holes in the walls, carpet stains, mold, or broken appliances. If you get involved in a lawsuit, this is your proof that the tenant did, in fact, trash your property. You should also consider contacting the police department to obtain an incident report of the damage to add to your cache of evidence.
You’ll want to have a good understanding of the cost of the repairs. Ask contractors for quotes to make the necessary repairs to get the property to a place where it can be rented out. Being armed with facts like this will only help you.
File an insurance claim
Depending on the extent of the damage, look into filing an insurance claim and determine what damage they will cover and potential reimbursement. The damage would have to be intentional, not typical wear and tear. Prior to making the claim, determine how the claim will impact your premium to assess whether it’s worthwhile.
Call a lawyer
If the damage is horrendous and you’re interested in taking the tenant to small claims court, contact a lawyer who specializes in real estate cases. With the lease in hand, photos and video of the damage, and quotes of how much it will cost to fix, you have your evidence that the tenant was in the wrong.
In some cases, like noise complaints or minor cleanliness issues, you can give your tenant a warning and ask them to change their behavior within a certain time period.
In fact, you may have already gone through this process with your tenant. But with a tenant trashed house, it may be time to cut your loses.
There are three different quit notices that landlords can present to a troublesome tenant. Cure or quit notices and pay rent or quit notices are more lenient, meaning the tenant has the opportunity to rectify the situation. However, in this case, you are serving an unconditional quit notice. You are letting the tenant know that they are being evicted and there is no chance for reconciliation.
In the notice, the tenant needs to be given a time period to pack their bags and vacate the premises. The tenant will probably not take this news well: That’s why it’s important to involve a lawyer with experience in these types of disputes. You want to make sure that you are doing everything to the letter of the law and carrying out the eviction legally.
When you sue for an eviction and win the case, the tenant could be responsible for paying for damages not covered by their security deposit and the insurance company, as well as owe any unpaid rent.
Best of all, we purchase houses “as is.” We’ve seen tenants leave maintenance issues unreported which turn into major problems like mold or even a roof collapsing.
We’ve even seen tenants rip out materials from houses to cash out and make a little money.
Pursuing legal action can be time consuming. Pretty soon, you’re tied up in an eviction case for a year. Meridian Trust has experience handling these types of situations.
To ensure our clients have the most stress-free experience, we act as a buffer for homeowners who want their nightmare tenant gone.
Nothing scares us; we’ve seen it all.
To find out how much your rental property may be worth, call Meridian Trust for a free, no-obligation property value analysis: (954) 807-9087.
Note: This guide is for informational purposes only. Meridian Trust does not make any guarantees about the sufficiency of the content in or linked to from this blog post or that it is compliant with current law. The content within this blog post is not a substitute for legal advice or legal services. You should not rely on this information for any purpose without consulting a licensed lawyer in your area.
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