Collecting for damage from a holdover tenant

7 Replies

Hello,

We purchased a 4-plex in June and all units are occupied. One tenant was on a month to month and the place was filthy and smelled and in dire need of work. We have a PM so we asked them to request the tenant move out, they are scheduled to vacate at the end of September. The tenant has been in the unit since Nov. 2012 and there is a lot of damage. At least 5 interior doors have holes, drywall is marred and dented in places, some trim removed and broken, closet doors broken along with broken light fixtures etc. 

My question is this, since the tenant only had a $300 damage deposit how aggressively should we pursue this tenant to recoup some of the cost of repairing the damage? This family clearly has little to no money as they were struggling to pay the rent ($800 a month) so I think it is a waste of time to go after them but my wife wants to "stick it to them".  They are allowing the contractors in to make quotes so at least they are cooperating in that regard.

Thanks for the advice

Roy

I would just cut my losses and move forward with repairing the unit after they move out. If they're struggling to pay the rent, more than likely you'll never recoup anything from them anyway.

Look at this way:

Does the person have the funds/assets to pay you?
Does the person have steady/consistent employment?

What is the value of "my" time?

If the answer to the first two are No and the value of your time is over $0.00 then it's probably not worth it.

Originally posted by @Roy Coons :

Hello,

We purchased a 4-plex in June and all units are occupied. One tenant was on a month to month and the place was filthy and smelled and in dire need of work. We have a PM so we asked them to request the tenant move out, they are scheduled to vacate at the end of September. The tenant has been in the unit since Nov. 2012 and there is a lot of damage. At least 5 interior doors have holes, drywall is marred and dented in places, some trim removed and broken, closet doors broken along with broken light fixtures etc. 

My question is this, since the tenant only had a $300 damage deposit how aggressively should we pursue this tenant to recoup some of the cost of repairing the damage? This family clearly has little to no money as they were struggling to pay the rent ($800 a month) so I think it is a waste of time to go after them but my wife wants to "stick it to them".  They are allowing the contractors in to make quotes so at least they are cooperating in that regard.

Thanks for the advice

Roy

 It sounds like you bought the property in this condition, in which case it should have been priced accordingly. I'm certainly no attorney but I don't think you have much recourse unless you can prove which (if any) damages occurred after your purchase date. That damage was done to someone else's asset (previous owner).

If you really want to pursue this I would attempt to get photos of the unit prior to when that tenant moved in (from the PM or the former owner - or at the very least a checklist the tenant signed noting any damages when they moved in). 

In the likely event you can't get this information I'd simply cut the loss for if you can't prove the tenant created the damage, it's futile. 

Thank you for the responses. We do have a checklist from when the tenant moved in back in 2012 but they barely noted anything on the list. Much of the damage is "normal wear and tear" but the holes in every door and broken door jams is certainly not. We are not expecting to get mush if anything from them for the repairs. We will certainly learn from this experience.

@Roy Coons you can't get blood from a turnip but there is a relatively simple way to try and get something. You can send the tenant to collections without taking them to court. Contact a collection agency and they will provide you with the forms and instructions. Try to include pictures and other evidence to support your claim. Odds are you will never collect a dime, but it only takes 30 minutes to turn them over to collections and you may get something out of it.

At a minimum, it will sit on their credit report and may prevent other Landlords from making the same mistake.