What to do if Your Tenants Cause Damage to Your Tucson Rental Property

What to do if Your Tenants Cause Damage to Your Tucson Rental Property

Tips for Tenant Trashed home

With 44.1 million renters vying for homes in the United States, experienced landlords know the importance of screening tenants by checking references and contacting previous landlords. However, even with up-to-date screening processes, landlords can expect that sometimes even good tenants cause damage.

Because tenants are the life bread of your business plan, understanding potential trouble spots will help you focus your time, energy, and resources to avert damage to your investments before it occurs. Read on to discover what to do if your tenant causes damage to your Tucson rental property.

Key Takeaways

Landlords should always keep these key takeaways in mind when considering damages your tenants have caused:

  • Determine the cause of damage
  • Consult your rental agreement
  • Try talking to the tenant before taking things farther
  • Document everything with pictures and receipts
  • Make yourself available to tenants
  • Conduct periodic property inspections

How Did the Tenants Cause the Damage?

When your tenants cause damage to your Tucson rental property, examine the cause of the damage and rule out some normal wear and tear in the form of:

  • Carpet wear and fading
  • Tile or linoleum scuffs
  • Dirty or loose grout
  • Warped windows and doorframes
  • Sun-faded curtains and blinds
  • Wall scuffs
  • Worn doorhandles

If the damage goes beyond normal wear and tear, determine how the damage happened. Unfortunately, accidents occur, and even the best tenants cause damage. For example, a game of backyard baseball can result in a broken window.

How to maintain rental property

However, damages can also occur when tenants fail to maintain their housing correctly. For instance, an overloaded electrical socket can cause a fire. In addition, tenants have a responsibility to inform you of needed repairs in a timely manner. If a broken pipe is fixed quickly, repairs can be minimal. However, if the leak persists over time, the damage can become extensive.

Who Has Responsibility for Tenant-Caused Damages?

Once you understand the cause, you can determine liability for damages.

Rental Agreements

Consult your rental agreement which should outline the terms of normal wear and tear versus tenant-caused damage. It should also explain the terms for damage repairs and appropriate compensation. If your current rental agreement doesn’t cover these topics, update them as soon as possible to protect both yourself, your tenants, and your Tucson rental property.

Some things to consider when creating a rental agreement include:

  • Pets and what constitutes pet damage
  • Landlord’s access to property for repairs, maintenance, and inspection
  • Wear and tear versus property damage
  • Property maintenance requirements
  • Contact information
  • Property use requirements (can the walls be painted without approval, approximately how many nail holes are acceptable, etc.)

To protect your tenants and avoid misunderstandings, list any damage already in place when the tenants move in so new tenants aren’t charged for previous damage by mistake.

Getting Money when Tenants Cause Damages

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Once you have consulted the rental agreement and determined the tenant is liable for damages, landlords often deduct the total costs from security deposits at the end of the lease agreement. If the damage exceeds the security deposit amount, try talking to the tenant before taking further action, especially if they have been a good tenant in the past. In the long run, this can save you a lot of time and effort if the tenant chooses to work with you. This is especially true considering that evicting a tenant can cost a landlord up to $10,000.

However, if the damage is extreme and tenants are uncooperative, you may need to take legal action against the tenants. This can include suing for monetary compensation or eviction. Should your attorney or insurance company request the information, you will need photographic evidence, documentation of the damage, and estimates and receipts from the repairs.

What Can You Do to Minimize Tenant Damages?

Stay close with your tenants

If your tenants cause damage to your Tucson rental property continually, you should examine your property management skills and responsibility in maintaining tenant communications. Your tenants may have learned that you don’t respond to their calls, causing minor problems to become significant damage.

Middle-of-the-night phone calls and disputes over parking spaces can feel irksome, but these little things matter more than you realize. Building solid tenant relationships can help you avoid issues with deliberate damage and help maintain the integrity of your property. 

Conducting occasional property checks for plumbing and other maintenance issues can also keep a small, unreported problem from turning into a larger one. Create and maintain a walk-through checklist to use when tenants move in or out and for occasional inspections. This will keep you from overlooking important areas or missing new damage.

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