Property Damages from Tenants that are Beyond the Security Deposit | Santa Rosa Property Management Advice - Article Banner

To protect your Santa Rosa rental property from tenant damage, you’ll want to do a few things. 

First, you’ll want to screen tenants thoroughly before you hand over the keys to your Santa Rosa rental home. 

Second, you’ll want to collect a security deposit that will protect you against the risk of unpaid rent and damage left behind after the tenancy. 

Finally, you’ll want to check in on the property whenever you can. Take a casual look around when you’re in the home, whether you’re meeting a maintenance professional there or responding to something the tenant has requested. 

Even with every precaution and outstanding tenants, renting out a property is a risky business. You may find yourself facing damages that are beyond what you’ve collected in security deposit funds. 

Here’s how to handle that unfortunate situation if you find yourself dealing with it.

Remember to Offer a Pre-Move out Inspection

Santa Rosa landlords are required to offer a pre-move-out inspection. Not all your tenants are going to agree to this, but you should strongly encourage it. This inspection will give you the opportunity to put eyes on your property before the residents move out. Your tenants will benefit by understanding what security deposit deductions might be in store based on the condition of the property. 

If you can get this inspection done before your tenants move out, you’ll have a sense of whether or not the security deposit will cover the damages that you find. You can also get your vendors scheduled and begin preparing the documentation you’ll need to justify why you’re withholding the entire deposit.

Document the Tenant Damage

After your tenants have moved out, you will want to return to the property to conduct a full inspection. The home will be empty of the tenant’s belongings, so you may find there is more damage than you initially expected. Document everything. You’ll need photos and notes and an initial condition report for comparison purposes. 

Gather invoices once the work is complete. You’ll need to restore your property to the condition it was in when your tenants took possession. Those invoices and a detailed and accurate accounting will help you make your case when you’re trying to recover funds from your tenants. 

Send a Letter within 21 Days

security depositCalifornia law requires that you return the security deposit within 21 days. You won’t be returning any money when the damage goes beyond the deposit amount, but you will want to send your accounting of damages. Highlight the amount that is still owed by the tenant, and provide a deadline by which you expect payment to be made. 

Sometimes, tenants will want to protect their reputation and their ability to maintain a positive rental history, and they’ll pay what they owe. In most cases, however, you won’t necessarily get that money back. You’ll have to decide if it’s worth it to you to pursue collections activities and if you want to sue them for the damages still owed. 

Fortunately, this does not happen often, especially when you’re working with Santa Rosa property managers. For more information about how to protect your property and avoid situations such as this, please contact us at Redwood Residential Property Management.