When it comes to property investment, there will be bumps on the road, especially if you want to build assets. There will be occasions where you may have one or two renters less than you’d like. But, the only thing worse than a vacant property is a bad renter. You can do all the relevant checks, have a good relationship with your renter, and still end up with a messy renter that destroys your property. What do you do when a renter has damaged your property? Consider some of these tips from Hampton Roads property management professionals.
Use the Security Deposit
If your lease agreement does not make provisions for the type of damage your property has incurred, your only recourse is to call a contractor to fix the issue and use the security deposit to pay for the repair costs. This is a quick, simple, and easy way to settle the matter. However, it means that there won’t be anything to fall back on should the renter default on their rent unless you choose to evict them as well.
Check Your Lease Agreement
Your lease should contain a provision describing who is responsible for paying for the damage caused by a renter. If there is no lease, then you are stuck with the repair costs. In nearly all situations, the renter is responsible for unforeseen and unexpected damage they cause to the property, not normal wear and tear. According to Hampton Roads property managers, it is advisable to get all new renters to sign a price sheet stipulating how much they’re going to be charged for breaking a window, damaging a door lock, leaving the trash outside, etc. When a renter signs off on this price sheet with a long list of repair items, it means they agree to take responsibility for these repair charges. So, when they move out, you can charge them off the price list that they agreed to. It takes the guesswork out of getting this type of work done.
Inspect the Damage
As soon as you are made aware of the damage to your property, take the time to inspect the affected area thoroughly. Take before and after photos to cover yourself in the event of a lawsuit. Make sure to ask questions and find out how the incident happened. Determine if it is the result of negligence, accidental or malicious damage.
Take it Out of Renters Insurance
If a renter has renters insurance, then your policy should pick this up as a claim. This is negligence and damage done by the renter so it would be taken on as a liability claim. If you don’t enforce renters insurance yet for your renters, then make sure that it becomes a requirement moving forward. That way, they can submit a claim to the insurance company and they would reimburse you instead of hoping and waiting for the renter to cut you a check.
Do Not Wait Until the Renter Moves Out
As soon as you become aware of the renter's damage, you are well within your rights to charge them for it. For many property owners, the security deposit is for back rent or other damages you find out about after the renter has moved out. If this is your arrangement with the renter, then you can repair it out of your own pocket and charge the renter for it right away.
If they do not pay, that repair becomes additional rent, and you can evict for it. You must ensure that it is clearly stated in your lease that any repairs that you pay for due renter damage become additional rent. When you convert expenses to additional rent, then it means that you can file for eviction if the renter does not pay the amount. The reason for that is because property owners are allowed to evict based on non-payment.
Could You Take it to Court?
While it is common for a property owner to take the repair costs out of a renter’s security deposit, sometimes this amount is not enough to cover everything. If this is the case with your situation and the renter refuses to pay, you have no choice but to sue them. You will be required to provide an itemized list of the damages and a detailed description of the repair costs. Typically, a quote from the repair person handling the repair will suffice because the goal is to recover any losses incurred beyond their security deposit.
Outsource the Headaches
One of the best ways to catch potential damage before it becomes an issue is to perform regular inspections and check on your property at least once a month. Of course, you can’t really always be this hands-on, especially if your goal is to chase new deals and grow your portfolio.
That’s where Renters Warehouse Hampton Roads property management comes in. Hiring a property management company to look after your renters on your behalf saves you time and money. That way, you can focus on high-value tasks that will help you grow your business instead of self-managing your business, especially as you grow and scale.