A Tenant Trashed My Rental Property, What Do I Do Now?

A Tenant Trashed My Rental Property, What Do I Do Now?

“My tenant trashed my rental! What am I going to do now?” A trashed rental is every landlord’s nightmare. It can happen even if you’ve done your due diligence with tenant screening. It’s hard to imagine how someone who seemed normal when you screened them can completely wreck your property. Maybe they had a melt down when their girlfriend left them and took out their frustration by punching walls and ripping off cabinet doors. Who knows? All that matters now is moving forward as quickly as possible to reduce your out-of-pocket expenses.

First Time New Challenges

The first step is to evict the tenant if they’re still living in the property. The eviction process varies from state to state and it’s important to carefully follow your state’s legal process. The timeline for evictions depends upon your state’s landlord-tenant laws, the terms of any lease you have with the tenant, your tenant’s response, and how attentive you are to filing the required paperwork in a timely manner. If you’re lucky, they won’t do more damage in retaliation and if you’re really lucky, they won’t leave you a house full of junk to trash out.

Most states require giving an eviction notice before the actual legal eviction process begins.  Some landlords prepare this notice themselves while others are more comfortable hiring an attorney for the entire process. This notice must meet the state’s requirements or it will not be valid and the eviction process will be delayed. Sometimes the tenant will move out after the eviction notice.

They’re Out, Now What?

Once the tenant is out you’ll need to perform a move-out inspection. Take photos of all the damage and any debris left behind. Be sure to carefully follow your state’s laws for retaining all or part of a security deposit, as a tenant can sue you if you fail to fully comply with the notice or timing requirements.  You can always talk to an attorney, but you’ll need to make sure you’re speaking with the right one, because not all real estate attorneys are alike.

If there was no security deposit or the damage in the wrecked house exceeds the security deposit, you’ll need to consider small claims court in order to be compensated for the damage. You can represent yourself or hire an attorney. Of course, you can’t get blood out of a rock. If your tenant doesn’t have any money, then even a court judgement against them doesn’t guarantee you’ll being seeing cash for the needed repairs anytime soon. You will likely end up paying for the repairs needed on the home yourself.

Fix Up or Sell Quick?

At this point, you’ll need to figure out if performing the needed repairs is going to make the property unprofitable. Each day the rental remains vacant is costing you, the landlord, money. Even if the property has no mortgage there is still the pro-ration of property taxes and insurance to account for as well as any utilities that remain on in order to complete the needed repairs. Carrying a mortgage amplifies the necessity of a quick turn-around.

So, what can you do if you need to cut your losses and stop bleeding out on the monthly expenses accruing while the rental lies empty awaiting repair? If you’re tired of being a landlord, or worn out by this particular rental property, maybe it’s time to sell now. There are a few options for selling. You could stick a sign in the yard, cross your fingers and sell it by owner. You could list it with a real estate agent and wait 30-90 days or more to close. Your other option is to see if you’re eligible for a cash buyout from HomeVestors. HomeVestors buys homes in any condition with fast cash closings. Contact us for a free, no-obligation cash buyout offer today.