How do you go about dealing with damage to the property that is caused by the tenant, but can't be explicitly "proved"?
We have had a couple situations with repairs that we believed were the tenant's fault, but ultimately we took responsibility for paying.
First fix is free, after that I would take it from deposit if I suspected anything. But it might depend on the issue, what did they break?
It all depends on what it is, and what your lease says.
Need specifics on what the actual situation is....
Lets face it...... there are lots of situations where you will never be able to 100% prove a tenant is at fault for something that breaks or goes wrong. The most basic and logical explanation for something is often correct, but proving it can be a whole other ballgame.
If you are evicting them, you include a claim for property damage with proof of the cost of the repairs (in addition to whatever else you want from the tenant, like unpaid rent). If you aren't evicting and an otherwise cooperating tenant causes property damage then you simply provide them 24 hour notice that someone will be entering the property to perform repairs, you pay that person yourself to perform the repairs while taking before and after pictures, then you send the tenant notice to pay for the repairs with a copy of the bill/invoice. If the tenant does not pay within a reasonable time, send one more notice stating that damage to the property is a breach of lease terms (it SHOULD be in your lease, make sure it is) and you will have to sue or evict if they don't pay. If they still don't pay, you sue in small claims.
Now, proving it? That's the easy part usually! You want to provide the judge with evidence: before and after pictures are really good, and affidavits from contractors/handymen are useful too if the judge allows that in. ALWAYS take timestamped pictures of the property BEFORE you rent it out. Then, if your tenant substantially damages the property beyond normal wear and tear (the one's I've dealt with were broken windows, ripping out the flooring, removing wiring from the walls, etc) it's easy to prove with timestamped pictures.
It depends on what the damage is. A hole in the wall, for example, does is not magically appear as a result of the hole ferry.
If it is something that may have resulted from abnormal use it falls on the tenants regardless of whether you can prove fault. If it was not them it was a friend and they are still responsible.
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