Owning a Raleigh investment property has a lot of advantages. It’s one of the easiest ways to earn a significant amount of income, without much stress or hassle (that is, so long as you’ve got a property management company to handle all the day-to-day paperwork and upkeep.)
However, it’s undeniable that there are some occasions when being a landlord can definitely be a headache. One of the worst situations landlords must sometimes face is that of a hostile, angry tenant who destroys the property as revenge against perceived slights (like eviction proceedings.) In today’s property management blog, we discuss what to do if you are ever in this situation. Keeping a cool head and following these tips will go a long way towards getting your property fixed and your money back.
The first step is (literally) assessing the damage. If the tenant still lives in the property, you are legally required to give him or her a 24-hour notice before entering the unit for an inspection. You can easily do this by posting the notice on the door. When you inspect the rental unit, take clear, well-lit, time-stamped pictures of all the damage. It’s also a good idea to take a video camera and film every inch of the investment property, even parts that are undamaged, in case the tenant adds more.
Your next step is contacting your local police department to report the incident. The police report will be invaluable supporting evidence in court. Be aware that calling the police to file a report is not the same as arresting the tenant for illegal activity. However, if the damage is significant enough and numerous valuable items were stolen, the police may also consider it a criminal case and file charges.
If your tenant has already been evicted, it’s a good idea to get the property tenant-ready as soon as possible to minimize your financial costs. Make sure all your documentation is saved and backed up to a secure server, and then invite contractors to provide repair estimates. Keep copies of the bids and subsequent invoices for your court case. If the damage is extensive enough, your insurance might be able to cover some of the costs as well.
In an event like this, it’s likely that the cost of repairs will exceed the amount of the deposit. However, you are still legally required to send the tenant an itemized list of repairs with the corresponding cost deducted from the deposit. The form you must fill out is called a Security Deposit Disposition form. Under North Carolina law, a landlord must return the tenant’s security deposit along with the disposition form within 30 days after the tenant has moved out.
At this point, it is time to seek legal action. Usually, you will need to file a lawsuit in civil court seeking compensation for the cost of repairs of the damage. It is advisable to hire an attorney to help you with this action.
Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to avoid situations like this once they are already happening—but you can take steps to mitigate the chance of them happening in the first place. Purchasing an investment property in a safe neighborhood; carefully vetting tenant applications; and developing strong, positive relationships with tenants can all go a long way to keeping your property safe and secure. And the easiest way to do all that is hiring a Raleigh property management company to help and advise you! If you need help finding or managing investment property in Raleigh, call Barker Realty Inc. today, and we’ll be happy to get you started on the right track.
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