May 3


What To Do If My Rental Property Gets Trashed by a Tenant?

By Mike Nelson

May 3, 2022

Let's say you've been renting your property, but now you're interested in selling to cash home buyers. However, once you inspect the house,  your rental property gets trashed by a tenant. What are you supposed to do? The good news is that there are laws to protect your rights as the property owner. If you find yourself in this unfortunate situation, here's everything you need to know.

What To Know About Your Rights as a Property Owner 

Landlord and tenant laws vary by state, so it's essential to look up the specifics of your location. However, there are a few universally protected rights, such as the right to rent payment. States regulate others to prevent infringement on tenants' rights. As a result, you may only exercise them under specific circumstances, or you must follow legal procedures to see them realized.

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Home Entering 

In most places, you can enter a renter-occupied residence in the event of an emergency or with renter permission. If you suspect damage, you can arrange for an inspection at the tenant's convenience. It's also a good idea to arrange an inspection if you're looking to sell your house fast for cash, as it gives you a chance to see how much work it'll take to get the property ready for sale.

Tenancy Terminaon 

Leases end at a pre-determined date, upon which you can start a new lease with a current or new tenant. As the property owner, you don't have to renew a lease if you don't want to, and in most instances, you don't have to provide a reason.


Ultimately, you own the property and can evict renters if the situation meets legal criteria. These may vary from state to state, but most governments agree that harm to the residence or property on the premises is grounds for eviction. Breaching the rental agreement is another well-recognized reason for eviction, so it may behoove you to include a clause on property damage. 

The downside is that eviction is a legal process, which means you must file a petition with the courts, and that can take a while. Even when you successfully petition for removal, laws dictate how long you must give the tenant to vacate the premises. Finally, you cannot do any of the following until the courts issue the notice of eviction: 

• Remove renters' belongings 

• Change the locks 

• Shut off utilities

What To Do if You Can't Get Hold of Your Renters 

In some cases, renters may abandon your property without notice. Some tenants do this in an attempt to escape responsibility for the damage they've done. Fortunately, you can still get compensation even if you can't get hold of your renters or don't know where they are.

Contact Your Insurance 

While you can pay for damages yourself, you're better off filing an insurance claim if renters have completely trashed your home. Otherwise, you may not be able to sell your house fast or get its total value. 

Pursue Legal Action 

In the most extreme situations, you can hire an attorney to enforce your rights as a landlord. Legal action can take a long time, especially if the tenant disappeared, so you may not get compensation before selling to cash house buyers. 

What To Do if Your Renters Are Still in the House 

If the tenants are still in residence or you can communicate with them, you may resolve the issue without resorting to legal action. That's not to say that getting compensation will be easy. You still need to ensure you have evidence if negotiations fail, and the law must step in. However, you should try to keep things civil, as tenant cooperation is the fastest route to resolution and handing off the property to cash home buyers.
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Reach Out to Your Renters 

Negotiation won't work in every situation, but if you have a rapport with your tenants, you may be able to come to an understanding. This tactic is especially effective if your renters have been in the house for a while without incident or the damage is clearly accidental. Many tenants prefer to resolve the issue without involving the legal system, which can lead to higher costs. 

If your renters are willing to work with you, try to be flexible. For example, if the total amount would cause financial hardship, offer to set up a payment plan. You should also get a professional estimate in writing to share with renters. Doing so builds trust and serves as documentation if you need to pursue legal recourse later.

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Take Photos 

Take photos of everything damaged and make sure you get every angle. Don't worry about taking too many, as you need to document as much of the situation as possible. The insurance agency will want these photos to gauge the payout, and they'll serve as evidence if you go to court.

File a Civil Suit 

If the repairs are incredibly expensive, you can seek damage with a civil suit. Remember that filing a lawsuit costs money, so seeking compensation has to be worth court fees.

Deduct Damages From the Security Deposit 

Most landlords require a security deposit as a condition for leasing. If you do so, you should include it in the rental agreement and specify under what circumstances you'll return it to the renters. For example, if tenants break a major appliance, you can deduct the replacement cost from the security deposit.

What To Do if Your Renters Start Escalating 

It's unfortunate, but some individuals get angry when called to take responsibility for their actions. If you've contacted your tenants about the issue and received aggression in return, you should proceed cautiously, especially if they're still in the house. If they decide to take out their anger on your property, they could cause even more damage and seriously impede your plans to sell your house fast.

Keep a Clear Head 

You may be understandably angry, but losing your temper will only worsen the situation. If you have to take the legal route, the courts will consider your actions when determining a verdict. Stay civil and try to de-escalate if you can. That said, if the tenants are threatening your safety, you have no obligation to continue negotiations.

Contact the Police 

If you fear for your safety or suspect the tenants will further damage your property, it's time to call the police. Threats cross the line from civil to criminal, and you shouldn't try to handle the situation by yourself.

Trade "Cash for Keys" 

In extreme cases, you can offer a "cash for keys" arrangement. It's exactly how it sounds: The tenants vacate the premises in exchange for money. If the eviction process takes too long, this may be your best option.

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Options for Completely Trashed Rental Property

Once you have gotten the tenants out, then you need to decide the next course of action. There are a couple of options you have besides trying to fix everything yourself. 
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File an Insurance Claim 

As stated earlier, you have the option of filing a claim with your insurance company.  They will go over with you what is covered and what is not. Some landlord policies do not cover intentional damage or wear and tear. So you will need to talk with your insurance provider and see if your type of damage will be covered. 

Sell The Home Fast For Cash 

Depending on the extend of the damage, or whether your insurance will help cover the costs, you may get stuck with huge repair bills trying to fix the damage yourself. There is another option for you that is less stressful and can put money back in your pocket fast. You can sell the damaged home fast for cash.  Cash home buyer companies like Coveway Properties can buy your trashed rental home no matter the condition, and you can get your money in as little as 5 days! 

When you partner with Coveway Properties, you don't have to worry about staging your home or scheduling showings. Instead, you can sell in three easy steps

1. Get an offer 

2. Close on the home 

3. Get paid

There's no middleman, so you don't have to worry about paying agent fees, which means more funds to go toward your next house. No matter how you look at it, Coveway Properties is an excellent option if you want to sell your house fast. To learn more or request a cash offer, give us a call at (925) 667-5395 or contact us online. 

"What a relief to have found Coveway Properties! My husband and I have been struggling with what to do with this home for years. Every time we had a game plan to fix up the home to sell it, one of us was getting sick or recovering from surgery.  Mike was so understanding and worked with us remotely to get the home sold. We are so grateful for his help!"