Assess new tenant for damage

3 Replies

My new tenants are gainfully employed and very nice. They provided security upon lease signing. 

This past week, the basement became partially flooded, damaging family stuff I had stored down there and building products we had left over. THe waste line spewed waste onto the driveway outside through the vent. We vacuumed up the 2" water in half the basement. THe plumber charged $240 to respond and clear the line of paper towels. THe tenants admitted disposing paper towels into the toilet when cleaning 2 days prior. It took 3 people over 12 man hours to clean up. I was so annoyed as we did this in 95 degree heat. 

I had discussed the rules about what goes in the toilet when we signed the lease. I estimate a total of $500 for the event since we did the cleanup. What should the letter say to bill them? Do I have recourse if they don't pay? Can I save the bill and put it against their security. This is their 2nd month and I'm hoping it was just an accident. Thanks for reading.

Keep it short and professional.

Dear Tenant, 

We confirmed with the plumber that the flooding was a result of a sewer line clogged by paper towels. You admit to placing the paper towels in the toilet which is an improper use of the fixture.

Per Paragraph X of your lease agreement, any damages due to your abuse or neglect of the home are your responsibility. I've attached copies of the invoices and expect payment within 30 days.

That's it. Short and sweet, put the ball in their court. If they want to negotiate a payment plan or decide to push back, you can deal with that in subsequent letters. Most people I've dealt with are generally reasonable and will take care of the invoice because they know they were responsible.

You may only charge for contracted expenses, rented equipment, material destroyed, items replaced and actual cleaning expenses. You may not charge for your personal time or the time of anyone that did not bill you.

Never ever deduct damage expense's from a tenants deposit. A damage deposit may only be used after tenants  move out.