If you’re in the business of leasing out your condo, chances are you’re familiar with the costs incurred due to damages. With continued use, bulbs will die, faucets leak, and eventual wear and tear will take over.
Margot, a 28-year old businesswoman, for example, has owned one of Megaworld at the Fort’s properties for five years now. Megaworld at the Fort properties are made to quality standards and are not as prone to wear and tear than in other places, but she still needed to replace fixtures that her tenant overused. “I’m relatively happy with the condo,” she says. “Sure, you have to have stuff repaired from time to time but that goes with the territory.”
When this damage is due to negligence or, worse, intentional property destruction, you have to take quick steps to correct the situation. This is something you’ll have to approach with caution since matters can escalate quite quickly. It’s extremely easy to point fingers and end up with a ruined landlord-tenant relationship.
By following a well-thought out procedure, you’ll be able to salvage the damage and avoid sore feelings between you and your tenant. Another advantage of following a set plan is that you have a jump-off point for the next time something like it happens again.
Step One: Keep Calm
A pipe burst in the bathroom? Don’t panic. The stove caught fire and charred the kitchen walls? No sweat. Though sometimes the damage can be overwhelming at first, the important thing is not to let your alarm get in the way. Treating the damage as if it were a catastrophe, even if it is, will lead your tenant to panic as well and put him/her on the defensive. Simply treat the situation as something expected and go straight to the solution without leveraging blame.
Step Two: Get a Full Report
If you can, assess the damage for yourself immediately. The minute a tenant gets back to you about unit damage, make time to visit the space. This makes it easier for you to determine whether what happened was an accident or a direct result of negligence. It will also help to ask the tenant to make a written account for your documentation. Ask for photos as well, since these will help with record-keeping and repair cost estimation.
The longer you leave damage unattended, the more you spend on repairs later on. It can also serve as a potential threat to anyone living in the unit. Arrange to have the building maintenance pass by and schedule the appointment with your tenant beforehand. Remind them that the priority is to get everything back in good working condition as soon as possible. If you can, be present for repairs so you know exactly what changes were made. This will help you with costing later on.
Review your tenant’s original contract and look at the provision for repairs. If the tenant is clearly at fault, make sure to explain and bill them accordingly. In cases where the damage is accidental or a result of normal wear and tear, you will have to shoulder the expenses. Deal with resistance by showing them the original contract and reminding them of the agreement they signed. Explain clearly and calmly why they should pay for repairs.In cases where the damage is accidental or a result of normal wear and tear, you will have to shoulder the expenses.
When the damage is so major and both parties can’t tell who’s at fault, legal battles can ensue. Luckily, these situations rarely arise and are often the result of an existing poor relationship between landlord and tenant. In cases where you have to face something like this, make sure to have all the proper documents on file. Prepare your own statement about the situation, the tenant’s report, and all financial paperwork. The best thing to do would be to settle out of court, but if you’re headed for a hearing it’s always best to be prepared.
In the business of leasing out a space, damage is always something to be expected. When you deal with these situations in a proper and timely manner, you’ll find that there isn’t much to worry about.
How would you deal with tenant damage to your condo? Share your thoughts in the comments.