Tenant clipped car exiting garage with low-hanging door.

6 Replies

Hi BP!

I'm about to close on my first rental property this Friday and am very excited! I'm learning A LOT as I go, and BP's community has been amazing in helping me confidently get through to closing.

The property I'm getting is a Short Sale (the previous owner has been MIA the whole process). The first unit has two tenants in it and they have my number and know I'm about to close. They called me last night and asked if I could come check out/fix the garage door (even though I don't own it yet!). 

Since I'm closing this Friday, I thought it would be a good idea to at least check it out. I was able to fix it, but the tenant raised a good question, "The door was off its track which was causing it to hang about 3 inches too low. So the top of my van hit the door, and it knocked off my top reverse light. Who's gonna pay for this?"

Naturally, I currently don't own the property, so I know I'm not responsible. But this got me thinking, if I did own the property, and the door was in-fact hanging too low because it was off it's track; would I be responsible for repairing his vehicle?  What if the door was low enough that it should have been obvious to him that he would hit it?

If the owner is responsible in this case, is there a "rule of thumb" for when to establish if the Owner is responsible? Let's say he got a flat tire from a nail on the property... is that the owner's responsibility? 

I want to be a responsible ethical landlord, but also want to make sure I don't let my tenants take advantage of me.

Thanks for any advice!

 - Tom

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

@Tom Lipps First of all, you should never touch anything until you are the owner. Pay for your damages and call it a day. I agree don't let the tenants take advantage of you, and you don't take advantage of the tenants.

 Fair and straightforward feedback John. Thank you!

Are there legal reasons for not touching anything prior to being the owner? I was actually happy I did, because had I not the door probably would have fallen off, and then the window glass would have shattered and it would have been a much bigger problem.

Are you doing final walk thru.. ASAP,,  I'd bring to seller's attention you want the garage door inspected because tenant mentioned it was off track to you and would need further adjustment. Be honest let seller know you adjusted it but I would have told renter not to use garage until it had been properly inspected and opener mechanicals had been checked. and you required a copy of work order to show it's in proper working condition at sale. 

Damage from this type of incident is usually paid owners, so if the tenant needs to make a claim they better do it fast.. 

@Tom Lipps think of this from your point of view after you close. If your tenant called you and said "Your garage door was broken and I backed into it damaging my car and I want you to pay for it, but some guy I know who is not a garage door repair man/contractor came over and worked on it so there is no evidence regarding the damages to the car. That is just a bad situation tenants are not authorized to arrange for unauthorized repairs. Also I am not totally sure on a short sale but normally if the garage door falls and shatters the windows before you close then you either have the seller restored the property to the condition it was at the time you made an offer or you negotiate the price to reflect you receiving damaged property.

Apart from the who owns when issue...

If it was my rental, and had been my rental...

I would have to ask the tenant how long the door had been like that, and why they did not report it. I can't fix it if the tenant fails to tell me about it. Tenants have their part to play in something like this.

I may still pay for it in this case, but I will be very sure that the tenant understands they have responsibilities too.