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How to Deal With the Aftermath of Bad Tenants

Bad tenants are a landlord's worst nightmare and, unfortunately, too common. Learn about dealing with problem tenants after they move out of your property.

Bad tenants are every landlord and property manager’s nightmare. Property damage, unclean living situations, pet damage, broken appliances – all can cause major issues for a landlord after their tenant has moved out.

Unfortunately, every landlord and property manager will end up dealing with problem tenants at some point. To make things easier, we’ve compiled a list of our top tips for dealing with bad tenants and the damage they can leave in their wake.

Dealing with Problem Tenants: A Timeline

From the moment a problem tenant indicates they will be moving out (either at the natural end of a lease or at the termination of a lease), it’s important to begin preparations for their move-out.

What to Do Before Tenant Move-Out

Consider taking these steps before your tenant has officially moved out:

  1. Contact the Tenant

Send a letter reminding the tenant of their responsibilities prior to move-out. These may include removing all personal effects, emptying refrigerators and cabinets,, disposing of garbage, filling or patching any holes or scrapes in walls and completing a property inventory. Additionally, remind homeowners to cancel or transfer any utilities beginning on the day they move out.

  1. Provide the Tenant With a Property Inventory

Engage your tenant in self-identifying any damage or wear and tear to the property prior to move-out with a property inventory. Make it an easy-to-complete form.

  1. Make Garbage / Recycling Available

Tenants may use move-out as an excuse to create a mess for you. Make sure garbage, recycling and, if you’d like to go the extra mile, donation bins are available to the tenants to encourage them to keep refuse out of the parking lot and landscaping.

What to Do After Tenant Move-Out

Are they gone? Phew! After trouble tenants move out, the real work sometimes begins. During this time, it’s important to carefully inspect the unit, make note of any damage or wear and tear, and to document the state of everything from walls to window coverings.

Specific tasks include:

  1. Inspecting the property

Inspect the property and document damage, no matter the source, with photos and videos.

  1. Looking carefully for signs of rule violations

Does your pet-free unit suddenly smell of cats? Does your smoke-free unit remind you of an ashtray? Make note of these issues. Should you need to engage an odor removal service professional, you may have a case against your former tenant.

  1. Contact your lawyer, insurance agent or adjuster

Depending on the extent of the damage you uncover, it may be prudent to contact your lawyer regarding potential legal action. Some damage, like carpet staining, may not warrant an insurance claim, but when it comes to larger damage, consult your insurance agent or adjuster.

  1. Choose Rainbow International for restoration and remediation services

Rainbow International makes disasters disappear. Our local IICRC-certified service experts work with property owners, property managers and homeowners alike to provide high-quality restoration, reconstruction and specialized deep cleaning services.

Damage From Bad Tenants vs. Wear and Tear

During a move-out inspection it’s important to recognize the difference between normal wear and tear and damage. Damage is caused by an avoidable accident, whereas wear and tear is unavoidable and gradually happens over time.

A loose doorknob, scuffed walls, small nail holes, a shower that needs to be re-caulked or a cabinet door that won’t fully close are all examples of normal wear and tear. Examples of damage include stains on the carpet, large holes in the drywall and broken tiles.

Recouping the Cost of Repairs as the Result of a Bad Tenant

If you’ve determined that there’s damage, you have the option to recoup the fees incurred for the repairs from the tenant’s deposit. It’s important to remember to keep detailed receipts and invoices as documentation to provide former tenants.

If the cost to repair the damage exceeds the amount of the security deposit, you have two options for recouping the cost of the repairs:

  • Send the tenants an itemized bill. Include receipts, estimates or any other documentation that indicates the cost of the repairs.
  • Take the tenant to small claims court. While this can be a time-consuming process, it may be the best option if the tenants ignore your previous requests for payment.

In either case, we recommend consulting with your personal legal counsel prior to making any decision.

Choose Rainbow International to Help You Recover After a Bad Tenant

Dealing with the aftermath of problem tenants? Contact the professionals at Rainbow International to discuss how our services can get your property back on the market, fast. Call (855) 724-6269 or request service online to get started.

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