Was your property destroyed or severely damaged by a tenant? If so, you shouldn’t be footing the bill for the repairs. When you’re dealing with damage that goes far beyond wear and tear, you may need to speak with a lawyer. Contact Toepfer at Law to schedule your confidential consultation today.
The best landlords pour their hearts into their properties. They take pride in making sure each unit is functional and well-maintained. For these property owners, damage caused intentionally by a tenant hurts them on more than just a financial level—it can feel like a betrayal.
However, not all property damage is personal; sometimes it’s caused by a tenant’s carelessness or even normal wear and tear. Determining the difference can be difficult when emotions are running high, as can deciding how to proceed. An experienced property damage lawyer may be able to clear things up for you.
At Toepler at Law, we know that being a landlord is a lot harder than most people think. It can be easy to forget that just like your tenants, you also have legal rights. If you’re dealing with property damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear, we may be able to help you.
If you weren’t there to see the damage happen, it can be tricky differentiating a totally normal occurrence from a weird accident or spiteful behavior. Here are some examples of each type of property damage:
Ideally, a security deposit would cover everything, but if you’re a property owner, you know that isn’t the reality. And unfortunately, billing a tenant—even for damage they purposefully caused—doesn’t always mean they’ll pay. In these cases, a lawyer may be able to help.
Discovering property damage can be overwhelming, and as much as you want to just walk away from it, it can’t go unaddressed. There are a few actions that can help you secure compensation for your losses.
If the occupant is still living in the damaged unit, the first thing you should do is pay for the repairs. Although some landlords would suggest paying for those repairs with the security deposit, others would argue the deposit should be left untouched in the event that the tenant skips out on their last month’s rent or causes additional damage. Regardless of where the money comes from, repairing the unit is the first priority.
If the tenant causes property damage beyond normal wear and tear, you can charge them for the cost to fix it. If you decide not to take it out of their security deposit, you may be able to add the costs onto their next month’s rent.
In the event that a tenant refuses to pay for the damage they’ve done, you may want to start the eviction process. If the eviction is granted, the tenant will only be able to remain in their unit if they pay all outstanding charges and back rent. If you’ve never evicted someone before, you should consider hiring an experienced eviction attorney to help.
If you want a tenant to pay for damaging their unit, you’ll need to be able to prove that the damage occurred during their lease cycle. Otherwise, you may not be able to pursue compensation. Here are some tips for protecting yourself from liability:
Although taking these measures can help prevent an expensive catastrophe, they’re not fool-proof. If you find yourself in a situation involving extensive damage and aren’t sure what to do, it may be worth contacting a property damage lawyer for advice.
Landlord insurance typically covers the structure of your rental property from a variety of perils. This could include unintentional or accidental damage caused by a tenant, such as a kitchen fire or burst pipe. However, landlord insurance does not cover the cost to repair wear and tear or intentional damage and vandalism.
In an ideal world, your landlord insurance would cover all damage done to your rental properties. But if that were the case, insurance companies wouldn’t stay in business. The unfortunate truth is that your insurer will always care more about the bottom line than your wellbeing. This reality can make getting the compensation you deserve difficult.
Figuring out who is liable for property damage is a complex issue, especially when it involves landlords, tenants and the insurance company. Even after you’ve assessed the situation and determined the responsible party, getting them to pay up is a whole other challenge. Many hardworking landlords who find themselves in this liability limbo may feel discouraged, but they do have options.
An experienced Minnesota property damage lawyer can do several things to protect you from this situation. They can help draft your leases and legal documents and speak to the insurance company on your behalf and even help you evict a tenant who refuses to pay for the damage they’ve caused.
If you need a Minnesota property damage lawyer who has experience in protecting the rights of landlords like you, there’s no better firm than Toepfer at Law. Contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation or give us a call at (320) 497-4416.
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