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April 20, 2017

Types of Property Damage Caused by Delinquent Tenants – and the Costs to You

Bad tenants can leave lasting marks on your property. Here’s what you need to know about tenants and property damage.

When most people think of bad tenants, they automatically think of payment issues, and it’s true that tenants who don’t pay or pay late are a big problem. However, they’re certainly not the only problem that landlords have, and another big issue that people who own and rent residential and commercial properties out should be cognizant of when they do their tenant screening is tenants who damage properties.

There are several kinds of tenant property damage you should be wary of, and there are some questions you should be asking when you interview tenants and their references.

Negligent Damage

Negligent damage is one of the most common forms of tenant property damage, and also the most innocent. These tenants aren’t maliciously setting out to damage your property, but they’re not great at maintaining your property or reporting damage when it happens. These tenants may not be the tidiest people out there, or they might not be very observant, but whatever the cause, the result is that damage to your property goes unrepaired, and becomes worse over time.

Violent Tenant Damage

A violent tenant in your property is bad enough, when you have police coming out to respond to calls, and all the hassle that goes with that sort of thing. However, when tenants are violent, particularly when they are also drug or alcohol users, sooner or later your property is going to get damaged. From holes punched in drywall to broken windows, all sorts of things can go wrong when you rent your property to a violent tenant.

Damage Caused by Criminal Activity

One of the biggest threats to properties these days is when they are rented to tenants who are involved in criminal activity, like drug manufacturing or processing facilities. Often, these types of operations result in or use toxic chemicals that can permanently damage the structure of your property, or leave it uninhabitable for weeks or months.

Malicious Damage

Finally, there’s malicious tenant property damage, which you may be at risk for if you rent to the wrong tenant. This is when tenants deliberately break parts of the property, or when they rip out and sell items like water heaters or other fixtures.

This type of damage is more common in lower socio-economic tenants, but it’s not unheard of among other types of tenant. It also includes other types of tenant who might deliberately set fires to commit insurance fraud, or those who damage property deliberately when disciplinary action is taken against them.

Proper Screening Helps Prevent Problems

It’s never possible to completely eliminate all possible problems with tenants, and that’s why it’s always advisable to have watertight property insurance on your rental properties. However, you can limit your risks, claims and costs by spending more time and taking the effort up front to make sure that the people you rent to don’t have a history of damaging property.

Bad tenants will usually leave a trail of destruction in their wake, so it’s often easier than you might think to identify past problems, and avoid these kinds of mistakes.


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