Whether damage was caused intentionally or by accident, dealing with property damage is a challenge many landlords face. When trying to protect your investment and minimize further damage, landlords must accept that some damage is to be expected as part of normal use, while deliberate damage is something that needs to be handled accordingly.
Accidental Damage and Natural Wear-and-Tear
Even the best of tenants may accidentally stain a carpet, or crack a windowpane. So what’s the difference between accidental damage and what you’d expect from daily use of the property?
Examples of accidental property damage:
- Spilled drinks such as red wine or other types of stains on carpet.
- Chipped or cracked floor tiles.
- Broken or cracked windows.
Examples of normal wear-and-tear:
- Worn areas of carpet from frequent walking, or heavy furniture.
- A few scuff marks on minor scratches on walls.
- Dents on vinyl or laminate flooring.
The problem with accidental damage is that it might not be included in your standard landlord insurance policy — you typically need to request it as an additional option. Ensure you know the ‘ins and outs’ of what exactly your company’s accidental coverage entails as every policy differs.
How to Handle Intentional Property Damage
If you have kicked-in doors and holes punched through walls, it’s clear that there’s malicious or intentional property damage. Whether the tenant was angry with you the landlord, or whether there was a domestic dispute that caused the damage, here are a few steps you should take to recoup your losses:
- Take photos and document damage. It’s always a good idea to keep a record of any damage done by taking photos or videos with a date and time stamp.
- Keep all receipts and invoices from repairs. Once you’ve selected a contractor to work on the repairs, keep all your receipts and invoices to back up your deduction claims.
- Managing security deposit deductions. While you may be caught up with repairing damage to your property, don’t forget about handling the security deposit return. Every state has different guidelines, so ensure you file yours within the specified timeframe. In this case, you’ll be filling out a Security Deposit Disposition form (SODA) which requires a detailed list of repairs with the associated costs.
- Decide on your next steps. Depending on how extensive the damage done is, you may choose to pursue legal action in civil court. Your insurance policy may provide coverage for property damage. You should file a police report to cover your bases; insurance companies may require a police report before deciding whether to provide coverage for the damage.
How to Reduce Property Damage
While there’s no sure-fire way to prevent 100 percent of damage to your rental property, you can check up on your property through regularly scheduled property inspections. Hiring a property manager to keep an eye on your property is another way to minimize damage. Check with us at Insurance by Castle today for more information at 800.644.6443.