All Redwood City rental property owners worry about tenant damage. No one wants to walk into a property after a tenant has moved out to find large holes in the walls and the floors or broken appliances in the kitchen. Normal wear and tear is expected during a tenancy, but damage can be expensive. It can also delay your process for re-renting the property.

If a tenant has damaged your home, make sure everything is documented so you can withhold as much money as possible from the security deposit.

Conduct an Inspection and Document the Damage

In California, you’re required to offer your residents a pre-move out inspection before they leave. If your tenant doesn’t agree to that, you’ll have to wait until they leave the property. Once they have vacated, get into your rental property quickly. You don’t want to wait more than a day or two because if there is damage, you’ll need to take action immediately.

Inspect the home thoroughly and document all the damage you find. You’ll need pictures, notes, videos, and a copy of your move-in inspection so you can compare the condition then to the condition now.

Make Repairs Quickly to Re-Rent your Redwood City Property

Repairing the damage quickly is important for two reasons. First, you want to have an accurate idea of how much damage was done and what you’ll have to do to repair it. You don’t want to estimate what the tenant owes you when you’re making a claim against the security deposit. You’ll want to have receipts and invoices that you can use to demonstrate what is owed to you. The sooner you get your vendors and contractors in to take care of the damage, the sooner you can let your tenant know you’ll be keeping that security deposit.

The second reason is that you’ll be able to get your property back on the market as quickly as possible. Damage to your rental property can take a toll financially and emotionally. No one wants to see how little a tenant cared about the condition of your home. But, you need to work quickly. Get the property rented out to a better, more responsible tenant so you can begin earning income again.

Withholding the Security Deposit

The security deposit you collected before your tenant moved in is held for exactly this potential problem. After the work has been done and the cost has been tallied, you can let your tenants know that you’re keeping all or most of the security deposit.

California has pretty strict security deposit laws. Make sure you get the itemized statement of deductions back to your tenant within 21 days.

When your tenant owes you more than what the security deposit covered, you can send a demand for payment. It’s a long shot, but you might be able to set up a payment arrangement or some kind of schedule in order to collect what your tenant owes you.

Preventing Tenant Damage: Screening

Protect yourself and your property by doing everything you can to avoid this type of tenant damage. Rigorous screening practices are a good start. Check every applicant’s credit for money that’s owed to former landlords or apartment communities. Talk to former rental references.

Collect a security deposit that’s large enough to cover any potential damage. You are limited to what you can collect in California, and you don’t want to deter good tenants from renting your home by asking for a deposit that’s too large. Be sure to collect at least the equivalent of one month’s rent, however.

Working with a professional Redwood City property management company can also protect your property and prevent damage. If you’d like to hear more, please contact our team at Five Star Property Management.