Cleaning Up After Bad Tenants: Dealing with the Aftermath of Bad Tenants
Cleaning up after bad tenants and their aftermath is one of the many horrors that landlords need to deal with. Damaged property is a dreaded problem because it means hundreds of dollars for cleanup and restoration depending on its gravity.
We want to help you. That’s why we’ve created this easy guide to identifying potential troublesome tenants as well as our expert tips on how to clean up after your bad tenants leave.
Prevention is the best cure, so before we discuss how you can properly cleanup after bad tenants, let’s talk about the potential culprits.
Warning Signs of Problem Tenants
The key characteristics you should be on the lookout for when interviewing tenants are irresponsibility and mental instability (no, we don’t mean avoid people with disabilities).
These traits of irresponsibility and mental instability are not always easily identified in a short meeting. But there are a few things you can do to give yourself the best opportunity to judge your potential tenants.
A thorough interview, a background check, and situational questions can all help you decipher the character of an applicant. Ask them how they have or would handle various issues in the rental.
Even after you have given them a contract, always be mindful of their actions. Frequent fights among tenants are one of the most common causes of property damage. Tenants who often have drinking buddies or parties are also more likely to leave damage. Violence is, of course, a major red flag.
Be sure to detail these situations in your rental contract as well. Preventing property damage is a lot better than cleaning up after bad tenants.
Differentiating Between Natural Wear And Tear And Actual Property Damage
It’s hard to admit, but not all damage is the tenant’s fault. You, as a landlord, have a responsibility to maintain the rental. Natural wear and tear will happen due to normal use and aging.
So how do you distinguish between natural wear and tear and tenant-caused property damage?
Purposeful damages are those that tenants deliberately cause resulting in inconvenience and high costs for the landlord after tenants leave the property.
This usually happens when tenants harbor hate or vindictiveness, when they maliciously want to inconvenience the landlord, or just because they are mentally unstable.
Sometimes, intentional damage is caused innocently (yes, you read that right). A tenant might choose to damage the property to accommodate their personal home decorations and furniture by adding hooks for decorations, or making other cosmetic changes. They may do so without realizing it qualifies as damage.
Small cosmetic damage can often be dealt with by discussing it directly with the tenant, but larger damage is certainly unacceptable and should be dealt with properly through damage claims and a police report.
Obvious, purposeful damages include those such as holes and cracks on walls and floors, broken glass of doors or windows, torn screens, graffiti, and other physical damage to furniture, appliances, interiors, and exteriors of the property.
Accidents can happen, and when they do, good tenants immediately inform their landlords so that they can be fixed quickly. That is one big indicator between intentional damage and accidental damage.
Intentional damage is usually discovered only after the tenants have already left. The tenant may deny the damage or treat the situation nonchalantly.
Accidental damage is unexpected or sudden. Examples include carpet spills, furniture dilapidation, wall writings by children, and other damage that couldn’t be helped when a rental property is occupied. They are usually willingly reported.
You can always speak with your tenant regarding these damages so that they can lessen future instances.
Natural wear and tear
Natural wear and tear are damages that can’t be helped when a property is occupied such as scratches and discoloration on furniture, worn out flooring, small cracks on bathroom tiles, broken appliances that have been used for years, water damages on ceilings, walls, and floors, damages caused by nature, and other damages that are expected to naturally occur in a couple of years.
Whether the rented property is occupied or not, it is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain it properly, and natural wear and tear falls under the landlord’s obligation.
You can always check how reasonable these damages are based on the length of stay of the tenants. Take an initial inventory of the property before they move in, keep a record of the maintenance schedule and routine of the property, and keep track of the age of the furniture and of the property itself.
Natural wear and tear does not happen overnight especially when you have done your part of maintaining your property and diligently preparing it before the new tenants move in, but it is unavoidable over time.
Tips for Cleaning Up Before a New Tenant Comes In
Cleaning up after a tenant moves out is not a simple task, but these tips can help prepare for the aftermath. There are two time frames in which you should take significant cleanup steps:
Before the tenant leaves
Even before your tenant moves out, there are things to do.
Specify advance notice and other moving-out stipulations in the contract. When they decide to leave, remind them of their responsibilities per the contract. Draft your contract cautiously so as not to miss anything that might leave you responsible for anything more than natural wear and tear.
Take a detailed inventory of the property before and after it is occupied. This can help any dispute of the damages. Based on this inventory, you can easily assess the damages that fall under the tenant’s responsibility.
If you are not sure how to properly assess the damages, you can always seek professional help from maintenance, repair, and restoration companies who will most likely work on these damages before and after the tenant moves out.
Lastly, provide donation and trash bins for the tenant for the proper disposal of items they might otherwise leave behind after the move out.
These three things are just the initial steps in cleaning up to lessen the problems you need to fix later on.
After the tenant leaves
Once the tenant moves out, you’ll need the best damage and repair company in the area to fix all damage in preparation for the next tenant.
Even if you only have small damages like small scratches and bumps on the furniture, make sure that you have the property thoroughly assessed before opening it up for lease again. You’ll be liable for the condition of the place upon rental.
This can also help you draft a detailed and helpful inventory and contract for the next tenant.
Five Star Restoration Can Help Deal With Cleaning Up After Bad Tenants
Whether you’re looking for a simple assessment or need to fix significant damage, trust Five Star Restoration.
We’re available for emergency response or appointment 24/7 at (951) 368-2227. And of course we are always happy to answer questions.
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