What can I do if the tenants trashed my rental property?

We all wish that tenants can take care of a rental property as if it was their own. Unfortunately, even carefully screened renters can fall short on expectations.

Most of the time, damages, such as a dent in the wall or a broken window, are an easy fix. Hopefully, you will have collected a security deposit that will cover most, if not all, of the damages.

Good to know: there is no maximum set amount for a security deposit in Georgia.

Unfortunately, you may also be dealing with a tenant who has trashed your rental property beyond recognition. So, what can you do if your investment property has suffered significant damages?

Get the tenant out of the rental property

If the tenants are still living on-site, your first step should be to remove them legally. You can give them 30 days’ notice and hope that they comply. Unfortunately, it is only the first step in the eviction process.

The eviction procedure can be lengthy and costly, especially if the tenants decide to fight back. The landlord should be conscientious about remaining on the right side of the law. You can also offer your tenants “cash for key.” Paying off tenants who already took advantage of you is frustrating. However, it could save you thousands of dollars and weeks of litigious procedures in the long run.

Document everything

Once the tenants are moved out, make sure that you are collecting all the evidence you will need to protect yourself and assert your claims. You will need it to deal with your homeowner’s insurance, but also local authorities if you decide to sue your tenants.

You may be eager to fix everything quickly and put your rental property back on the market to cover some of your losses. However, always take pictures of the damage done to your rental property before fixing anything.

Good to know: It is always a good idea to take some “before” pictures or videos prior to the tenants moving in to use as a comparison later if needed

You can use your tenant’s security deposit to fix some of the damages. Make sure to give your tenants an itemized list of repairs and costs. You will want to contact your homeowner’s insurance as soon as possible with the evidence of the damage.

If the damages are significantly beyond what the security deposit can cover, you can file a lawsuit against your tenants. Unfortunately, filing the case and retaining the services of an attorney can be expensive. Besides, even if you win the case, there is no guarantee that you will get your money back if the tenant is not able to pay.

Keep the rental property or sell it?

Even in the best-case scenario, a tenant trashing a rental property will be very expensive for the landlord. You will pay for the repairs, of course. But you must also take into account the loss of income as the property is put back into shape and the cost of the legal procedures.

Sometimes, the property is significantly damaged and you do not wish to put the time and money into bringing it back into shape. In that case, you may want to sell the rental property as-is. If you are considering selling your rental property in Cherokee and Cobb County, including Woodstock, Marietta, Kennesaw, Acworth, Canton, and Roswell, we may be able to help. Contact us today to discuss your options.

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