What To Do If A Tenant Trashes Your Rental Property
Imagine the following scenario as outlined by a landlord on The Landlord Protection Agency forum:
“We had a family of 8 (2 parents, 6 kids) living in our rental house. There was a lease agreement in place. They stopped paying the rent 2 months ago, and we were about to begin eviction proceedings on them. Previously, when they didn’t have the money for the rent, we had to use their deposit on file to pay for that rent 3 months ago. Therefore, we had no more deposit on file for them with which to protect ourselves for the future. These people turned out to be complete deadbeats and losers. A few days ago, they called to say they had moved out of their own accord. So, my father went to go look at the house and it looks like a hurricane had blown through: not only is there trash covering every square foot, but they smashed and damaged all that they could.”
What would you do in this scenario?
Renting out a home is risky business. Although many renters will be respectful of your property, pay on time, and stay long enough to make the investment worth it, it doesn’t always happen that way.
In some cases, the damage isn’t too bad – maybe they painted the walls a bright yellow or caused a small amount of water damage. In worse cases, your tenant may have done everything but tear down the house itself, which would be merciful compared to what they did.
Whether you’ve recently experienced a similar situation or are preparing for one, it’s important to have a plan in place in case your tenants trash your rental property.
In most cases, the best thing to do at this point is to evict your tenant as soon as possible. Although the process can be a headache, it’s a possibility you’ve accepted once you decided to lease your property.
Once the eviction process is complete and the tenants are out, however, you may be scratching your head and calculating the numbers to figure out the next best move. When a tenant trashes your rental property, you have essentially three options after conducting the eviction process: rehabbing and re-renting the home, rehabbing and selling the home, or selling the home as is and moving on.
Option 1: Rehab and Re-Rent the Home
At this point, you may have a bitter taste in your mouth from the tenants who just trashed your property. However, whether you depend on the rental income or simply enjoy being a landlord, the most obvious option may be to clean it up and rent it out again.
Although the process of rehabbing and renovating may be expensive and timely, it may be worth it to get back in the game. With Seattle rents rising as quickly as they are, consider including design trends and amenities that will allow you to charge more in the future. With this strategy and frame of mind, you may be able to quickly recuperate from the costs of renovating the home.
If you decide to re-rent the home, take this opportunity to review your contracts and deposits with a lawyer to make sure they give you the highest protection in case this happens again.
Option 2: Rehab and Sell the Home
Perhaps this is the last straw for you. This has been one too many damaged rental properties and you’re ready to get out of the game. So, now it’s time to clean up and sell the home.
When renovating a home to sell, first sit down and calculate how much the renovations will cost. Hire a contractor to look over the home and give you an estimate on both cost and timeframe to better prepare you for the calculations. Then, compare those to the current and future market (when the home is ready to sell), and work with a real estate agent to get a valuation on your home.
Now that you’ve done the math, sit back and look at it. Does it make sense to renovate before you sell? Is there something you can cut back on? While it’s never a good idea to cut corners on large projects like this, there may be a few areas where you can trim away. For example, perhaps you’d like to install a smart home system in the house, but is that something that will truly bring up the value of your home?
Working with both an agent and a contractor will give you a good idea of the true costs and potential profit you could get out of the home. However, remember that the market is always shifting and not everything may be as it seems. There’s always a lot at stake during the renovation process and even more so when looking to sell the home once it’s completed.
Option 3: Sell the Home As Is
The idea of renovating a rental property, especially when you weren’t planning on it, can be difficult to swallow. Perhaps you just finished a renovation before the tenant moved in or you simply aren’t prepared to deal with the time and cost it takes to rehab a property.
Fortunately, you don’t have to go through the work of renovating the home before selling it. You can avoid dealing with renter problems and get out of the rental business all within the same month of the ordeal. The best part is that you won’t even have to talk to a contractor or agent to get started.
For those who are tired of dealing with their rental property and the problems that come with it, a local real estate investment company with a good reputation can be a lifesaver. They will come in, take a look at the property, and give you an offer based on how much it’s worth to them as it stands today. No inspections, no repairs, and the ability to close quickly are three of the top benefits of opting for this solution.