It’s every property investors worst nightmare. The tenants from hell who turn up turn up on a YouTube video or a nightly current affairs program.
So what do you do when ‘tenants go wild’ and destroy the property because they are unhappy about being evicted? Tenants like this figure they don’t have anything to lose and often attempt to exact their revenge on what they perceive to be an evil landlord by unleashing havoc that usually ends up causing significants amount of costly repairs and in some extreme cases stealing appliances.
From punching holes in walls, breaking windows and tearing up the floor covering all the way to structure damage tenants gone wild cause costly damage.
As the property owner when confronted with this circumstance you have a couple of choices.
Firstly document everything; while something might seem minor to you if things go off the rails, documenting everything will help you regardless of the outcome.
Here are our tips to help:
Take lots of pictures and if you can video. With most mobile phone these days it can be a simple task to take videos and photos of every last bit of the damage. Importantly take pictures of any seemingly undamaged areas as well. If the property has been left particularly dishevelled, it can be hard to spot minor damage amongst the carnage. These photos of apparently undamaged areas can be very revealing when reviewed in the cold light of the next day.
Another good idea is to email or text the images to your managing agent so that they have confirmation of the time and date. This documentation is valuable when trying to establish the level of damage that has been done if this matter ends up going to court.
Get quotes on repairs as soon as you can. Try to contact some tradies who can come and assess the damage and provide you with quotes on the cost of repair as quickly as possible. Ensure that you keep copies of the quotes and resulting receipts in case the matter ends up in court. It is also advisable to get the repairs completed as soon as possible so that you are not losing additional funds by having the property untenanted.
You should also contact a locksmith as quickly as possible to change the locks and ensure the premises are securing so that there can be not disputed about the damage having occurred after the tenants have left the property.
Next, you will need to check the laws that apply to your state with regards to deducting any costs of repairs from the tenant’s deposit. While it may be helpful, keep in mind that the deposit bond in many cases may not cover the costs of repairs. And while the expense of repairs more than likely exceeds the value of the bond, you are still required to send a copy of the costs of repairs to the tenant inside of a set number of days. If the expense of repairs surpasses the bond sum, you can then inform the tenant that you will begin legal proceedings to recoup the balance of the costs.
If this happens, once you document everything, you will still need to contact your local police station to report the damage that has been done to your property. They will assist you with completing any official paperwork that will also assist the police in determining if any charges can be laid on the tenant.
Be aware though that just because you have reported the damage this does not automatically mean the police will pursue the tenants. Often it is only when the loss is significant, or items have been stolen the police may proceed with criminal charges.
The exception to this is in the instances where it appears some criminal activity occurred on the property. Such as in a recent case where a property manager checking on tenants who had paid the rent for several weeks discovered the residents had turned the property into their version of a Breaking Bad drug manufacturing lab.
In cases where the police aren’t able to pursue the matter, the other alternative is to look for compensation through the local courts. That will involve in you filing a civil suit seeking compensation for the cost of the repairs and any loss of income that incurred while the property was vacant. It’s best to get a lawyer for this activity and understand that the procedure can take a while to go its way through the courts. On the off chance that the previous tenants were experiencing difficulty paying rent, in any case, it is likely you won’t recuperate much over the long haul.
Your final course of action is to reach out to your insurance company with your building insurance if the damage is widespread and structural. For minor issues like general damage, you may need to look to your landlord’s insurance that should cover you for some or all of the cost to repair damages.
The insurance group will likely need to see a police report, so make sure you have copies to forward. They will also be able to work with you on exactly what else you need to do.
What’s the worst tenant revenge you’ve ever witnessed or overheard?