Original publish date April 22, 2021
Updated March 9, 2023
Discovering more people living in your rental than are legally on the lease is a problem. Property damage caused by renters is also a common problem many Seattle real estate investors face.
Sometimes the damage is accidental. When that happens, good renters let you know what happened and work with you to make it right. However, bad renters cause damage without taking responsibility for it.
The worst residents damage rental homes on purpose, sometimes in retaliation after an investor attempts to enforce the rules. Terrible residents destroy rentals, then leave the devastating behind when abandoning the property.
What can rental property owners do when a renter damages a rental? Follow these tips from the best property management Seattle offers!
Document the Damage
As soon as you discover property damage, document it. Whether the renters destroyed parts of the property, then left it, or the renters are still there, the first step is to take photos of the damage and make notes about what you found—and how you found out about it.
Even if a renter broke something accidentally, your insurance company might request documentation of the problem to process a claim. It's also wise to keep documentation of property damage with the resident's file in case it becomes an ongoing issue or recurring pattern of behavior for bad residents.
Accurate and prompt documentation helps you work with an insurance adjuster or seek compensation from renters to cover the cost of repairs. If you're not sure how to document renter damage, the best Seattle property managers can handle it for you.
Check the Lease Agreement and Follow It
Good renters and bad residents alike are responsible for taking excellent care of your Seattle rental property. However, investors must also hold them accountable when they break something—even if it happens unintentionally.
Consult the lease to enforce penalties for property damage. Since your residents agreed to and signed the lease, enforcing the rules should not be a surprise response to any damage they caused.
Make sure to follow the lease and any laws that apply when informing renters about the penalties for property damage. If you're not sure how to deliver appropriate notices or you're uncomfortable dealing with bad residents who damaged your property, the right property management in Seattle can handle the situation for you.
Apply the Security Deposit
Rental property owners collect a security deposit for a reason! When appropriate (and according to the lease agreement rules), apply a renter's security deposit to the cost of damage repairs.
Work with a property manager to follow the law when handling or applying the security deposit to renter-caused damage. When using the deposit for damages, deliver a written notice to residents explaining why they won't get their deposit back.
Take Them to Court
Excessive property damage is costly, but real estate investors don't need to foot the bill for bad resident behavior. If your attempts to collect compensation for repair costs fail, work with a property manager and your legal counsel to take renters to court.
Whether you can successfully recover your out-of-pocket expenses or not, a legal court case supports your next steps to proceed with eviction.
Deliver an Eviction Notice (When Legal and Appropriate)
Bad residents who destroy your property, refuse to cover the cost of repairs, and won't move out become a significantly costly problem for investors.
When it's time to remove a resident, the lease or rental agreement becomes your guide again. With a thorough lease, investors and renters have clear documentation about the eviction consequences of damaging a property and refusing to comply with efforts to collect compensation for repairs.
Follow the Law
Before changing the locks or demanding that your terrible residents leave, real estate investors must protect themselves by following the legal eviction process. When the lease documents resident damage as a violation of the rules, rental property owners have "just cause" to enforce the eviction process if the resident fails to comply with repair and compensation efforts.
Remember: even bad renters have rights. Ignoring the law or taking matters into your own hands before delivering an eviction notice can lead to a lawsuit and more financial problems for you.
The right Seattle property management company can handle residential lease agreement enforcement and the eviction process when it's time for a bad renter to go. There's no need for real estate investors to deal with the stress of intentional property damage, renters who don't comply, or the legal details of eviction to protect their investments.
The Best Property Management Seattle Offers Handles Renter Property Damage
Even with a thorough tenant screening process, not every resident turns out to be a good one. When a renter causes property damage, investors can work with the best property management Seattle offers to make repairs, enforce the rules, recover repair costs, and evict (if necessary).
Let Real Property Associates handle difficult renters and situations for you! Contact us to learn how we protect properties and income for Seattle investors.
Protect your properties with the tips in our free resource, Protecting Your Investment Property: A Guide.