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The Best ways to Handle Rental Property Damage as a Property Manager

Image is an illustration of a woman holding a door closed against a flood.Rental property damage is a serious issue.  Most professional property managers are well versed in knowing how to prevent it as well as deal with it when it happens.  Damage is usually either due to routine wear and tear or tenant-caused neglect and abuse. One important job of professional property managers is to determine who is responsible for the damage during the tenancy and get it taken care of.

The first thing a property manager such as Martin Feinberg will need to do is to determine if the tenant damaged the property or if it’s in need of routine maintenance. Once that has been determined it’s a fairly straightforward process to charge the tenant for the repair or have the income property owner pay for it.

Usually the easiest way to handle rental property damage caused by the tenant is for the property owners to pay to fix the damage and then bill the tenant immediately for the cost of those repairs.  If the tenant is vacating the property then the funds can be taken from the deposit when they move out.  That way, there will be no delay in getting the damage fixed.

If property damage is the fault of the tenant, then property managers need to document everything extensively.  Take pictures, write work orders for future work, and send a damage letter to the tenant that includes a list of charges for damaged items.  If the repair is more than the amount of the security deposit, send the bill and an accounting statement to the tenant requiring them to pay within 30 days.

Image is a close up of a broken window.If a tenant refuses to pay for damages they caused, property managers need to discuss collection options with the property owner.  Owners should be aware that collection agencies typically only collect around 40 or 50 percent of the balance owed.

Professional property managers know that attention to routine maintenance will usually reduce the risk of property damage.  Examples of such maintenance can be regular roof cleaning, furnace servicing, painting, and regular property inspections.  Property maintenance can be a gray area and a professional property manager can often help a property owner determine if the problem was caused by the tenant or is the owner’s responsibility.