As a landlord, one of the most troubling situations you can face is entering a property you have rented to someone only to discover the tenant has damaged it. Even seemingly minor issues can be expensive to repair, and significant damage can prevent you from renting the property right away. And all these costs add up.
Under these circumstances, you may be able to pursue financial remedies from the tenant responsible, but you will need to have evidence to bolster your claim.
Photographs…a lot of photographs
They say a picture paints a thousand words, and that is certainly the case when it comes to property damage. Get photographs of every broken appliance, torn carpet and destroyed fixture.
When taking pictures, pay attention to the following:
- Using objects like coins or a person to show scale
- Date of the photo (which should be as soon as possible)
- Different perspectives
Taking these factors into account can help you get accurate, clear photographs illustrating damage. If you have pictures of the property before the damage occurred to compare, which is wise, those will also provide critical to present.
Retain all receipts related to repairs to rental property. Each time you visit the hardware store or call in a professional for an estimate or to complete work, hold on to the paperwork. Keep this information organized and easily accessible.
These documents can prove how much you have already spent repairing the damage.
Landlords typically do not witness a tenant damaging property, but other people might. Talking to these people and getting their contact information can be crucial should you file a legal claim for compensation.
Often, it can be wise to talk to roommates and neighbours. They can have detailed accounts of parties, fights or personal habits that may have caused or contributed to the property damage.
Keep in mind that tenants may also have evidence of their own. They might try to suggest the damage is normal wear and tear or that it was there before they moved in. However, diligent recordkeeping and presenting comprehensive evidence of your own can contradict their claims and help you prevail in any legal claim you might pursue.