Tenant Drove into Garage Door

11 Replies

Hello - I would like to get some feedback on how to properly handle this scenario. A tenant who is on a month-to-month lease recently drove his car into the garage door on my rental property, causing irreparable damage to the door. I contracted with a local shop to replace the door at my expense because I didn't trust the tenant to replace the door to my satisfaction. Now I want to recover the cost from the tenant. The lease clearly states that the tenant is responsible for damages caused by the tenant.

I told the tenant that I would be expecting to be compensated for the door by a certain date, which has come and gone without action. What is the best course of action?

Thanks,
Ron

Did you get him a copy of the bill so he's aware of what he owes? You could always mention small claims court and see if that lights a fire under him to get you the money. Or eviction...

Ron, 

1- I assume your lease has a clause that states "any damage to the property due to the tenant's negligence....", I would copy that portion of the lease, attach the bill and send it to them. You have to give them a bill if you want to be compensated,

2- Did you call your insurance company to report a claim? You may get a portion paid by insurance,

3- It is my policy not to extend a month to month lease for more than 2 months after the lease expiration. I like (so does my banker) a minimum 1 year lease. If there is a problem (like you have now) I can sue for the entirety of the lease, not just for the month.

4- You set the tenant's expectations by sticking to your rules or by relaxing them. My advice is to be a very good landlord by quickly responding to their legitimate requests. But at the same time let them know this is a business and you mean it, nothing personal.

Good luck

Thanks for the quick advice. I have a copy of the bill and an excerpt from the lease which I will forward to the tenant. I didn't provide the tenant any form of bill or paperwork prior to this, which makes sense that my verbal request may have been forgotten. 

Good idea on the insurance. If I can't make any headway with the tenant, I'll call my agent to check on that option.

Again - I appreciate the feedback.  

Ron

Hello Ron, I see you're in Des Moines as well. 

Not sure of the size of garage door, or if there was any damage to vehicle, but you could mention using their auto insurance to cover it. I would imagine running your car into the door would be an insurable incident. He could get any damage to his car fixed, as well as the garage door, for his deductible. If it's a 1 car garage it might not be worth it to him, but for a 2 car door it might.

Hi Chase - good idea regarding tenant's auto insurance as it might be worth his while to explore. The door is a 19 ft oversized door. Not cheap. 

Thanks,
Ron

Would not make insurance claim as your deductible would eat most of  the the check and you get dinged for the claim.  Reserve claims for BIG ticket items.

As an auto insurance agent I would recommend filing a claim through his auto insurance.  The property damage portion of his coverage's should take care of your damages (assuming he has auto insurance).

@Ron C. this may sound very basic, but have you called and talked to him about it? What I mean is calling him and saying, I have not received payment what is your plan? Maybe he can pay with installments rather than the whole amount. Then you could also get information on his insurance company and call them to place a claim. It could be a problem that you replaced the door without contacting his or your own insurance. There could be a problem because an adjustor was not able to look at the damage prior to the repair being done. Like in a car accident, you call insurance before you fix the damage.

If you feel there is risk he will not pay, then taking him to small claims court to get a judgment is probably best. At least if you tried to work out a payment plan before going to court, it would make the judge more sympathetic to you. Document every discussion, save pictures, send certified mail, etc. Anything to support your efforts to work through this. Be reasonable with him but firm.

Just a follow-up. It took several voicemails and text messages, but I finally got the tenant to call his insurance company and a claim was filed. I am now working directly with the insurance company and everything looks positive. 

I really don't think this tenant was not trying to avoid me. I think it was just a lack of motivation to do anything. I did have a letter prepared to send via registered mail, which documented the timeline of events and all communication, and also listed action items and alternatives to get it resolved without resorting to small claims court. Thankfully I didn't have to send it.

I appreciate all the feedback and ideas. I have learned some lessons about exploring the tenant's insurance first before I jump into action to fix damage they cause.

I had this same thing happen.  I just installed a new garage door, and after 3 months, the tenant somehow drove into it, damaging the door beyond repair.  I had the door replaced, and worked out a payment plan with the tenant to pay me back.