If you own a rental property and had a tenant trash it when they moved out then make sure you read this article because we’re addressing the all-too-common problem that landlords have when they say, “Help! My last tenant trashed my Sacramento house!”
If you are a landlord, you probably know that Unlawful Detainer and Eviction are interchangeable when talking about getting bad tenants out of your house. If you are one of the lucky landlords that has never had to actually evict a tenant, then it’s something that you dont want to experience first hand. There’s nothing more frustrating than knowing that you have forfeited your ownership rights to a tenant that has stopped paying you and that is living rent free in your house and unfortunately, in your head as well.
We all know that the best way to avoid having bad tenants is to prescreen them. We know that if you make your requirements the most stringent and restrictive your chances are improved. We know that if you make your house the nicest on the block and your pricing at the higher end of the market, your chances are better than average in finding a good tenant. We also know that there are no guarantees in finding that perfect tenant, but the more you adhere to those higher standards with your expectations and you are upfront, the better chances you have of attracting the best possible quality of renter.
That said, let’s deal with the reality in today’s world that a renter has left it in less-than-perfect condition. Let’s face the facts it is a numbers game and the higher the turnover of tenants, er the chances that you are going to be in that position, because it eventually happens to everyone with rental properties. Welcome to the club because every landlord has faced it at least once. You drive up to the house, you take a deep breath, you slowly walk up the driveway to the front door, your mind is racing, you walk in and look at your vacant rental property and say, “OMG! My tenant trashed my Sacramento house”.
In my experience, there is nothing that takes away the sting. Nothing that soothes the outrage for the morally bankrupt and decrepit beast that perpetrated the destruction on your property. I am not normally a victim, but in theses instances it is hard to escape that mantle and it is especially hard not to admit that they won…. at least for the moment.
Is it worth going after the tenant?
There is an old adage… you can’t get blood from a turnip. So before you rush out to get file a law suit and chase a fantasy that they will pay your damages, realize that that morally bankrupt tenant is a deadbeat. No matter what the damage you really need to understand that the damage is at this point civil and usually not criminal. You need to get over the shock and then calmly assess the damage and decide if it’s worth going after the tenant. Go through the lease and see if there was a co-signer. A parent cosigner, do they actually have a job whereby you can get a judgement and make their credit life uncomfortable. Unfortunately, it often isn’t worth the hassle because it may be too time consuming and even expensive effort to get the tenant to pay you back. However, if the damage is significant enough, you may choose to do this.
Remember, principals are very expensive to defend in a court room and most attorneys that have clients that chase deadbeats call those clients… “Fee Generators”.
Is it worth repairing the damage?
From holes in the walls to missing toilets, missing copper wire and pipes – I have to admit I have seen first hand just about everything you can imagine! Sometimes a bit of drywall and paint will fix the problem, in which case you may want to fix it up and rent it out again, and then just accept the inconvenience as the cost of doing business. However, if the damage is substantial… it may not worth repairing yourself then you might be interested in a couple of other options:
You could rent your house to a handyman
One little-known option that is actually really helpful is to find a handyman who wants to rent the house. In exchange for a discount on rent (or even free rent) they can fix up the house for you to make it a nice rental property again. Make sure you have a timeline all spelled out, though, to avoid then staying too long without a lot of work getting done.
You could sell the house
Another option is to sell the house and move on from owning a frustrating rental property. However, be aware that if you try to sell the house on the open market, you may have to fix it up first in order for the agent to list it. Another option is to sell privately to a house-buying team like ours. (We buy houses in Sacramento in its as-is condition and we’ll fix them up ourselves).