Here’s an unfortunate fact of life when you’re a landlord or own a rental property. Sooner or later, you’re going to have tenants who trash your place. Hopefully, the damage caused is something that can be covered by the security deposit, but there are plenty of ways for tenants to cause enough damage that it goes beyond that amount. Something like this only has to happen once for you to consider just selling your property and moving on rather than having to deal with the hassle. You might think it’s hard to sell a rental property that’s been damaged but there are actually some reasonable steps you can take to make it happen. If tenants have trashed your house, here’s a guide to selling your rental property as is in Nebraska.
Tenants Trashed Your House: Selling a Rental Property As-Is
Assess the Damage
Upon learning about any damage, the first thing you’ll need to do is document everything. Hopefully, you took pictures and got documentation about the status of the property before the tenant moved in. You’ll want to take extensive photos and mark everything with timestamps in order to compare the before and after. This is critical for any insurance claims or legal proceedings. It’d be smart to walk through the entire space with a video camera or smartphone as well.
Depending on the kind of damage we’re talking about, you may want to involve the police if only to fill out a report and put it on file. If tenants have knocked down walls, ruined property, or created unsafe living arrangements, having the local authorities aware of the situation just ensures that your bases are covered and there is a third-party record of what happened.
You’ll also want to let your insurance company know about what’s happened. Your current policy may cover some of the damage caused by tenants. Either way, you’ll likely have to fill out forms and document everything for them.
Remove the Tenant
Presumably, you built a damage clause into the lease and can ask the tenant to leave the property. Or they might be moving out and that’s why you’re finding out about the damage. Either way, once they move out, you’ll need to do a move-out inspection. As mentioned, you’ll want to document any damage. You’ll also want to do general documentation of the entire property.
Consult your attorney regarding the damage left behind and how you should comply with state security deposit laws. Make sure you’re using a real estate attorney who specializes in this area. If there was no security deposit or the damage exceeds that amount, you may want to pursue the tenant in small claims court. You’ll be at the mercy of the tenant’s financial situation and chances are you won’t be able to depend on getting that money in time to make repairs or deal with outstanding debts. Remember that when considering legal action.
Fix or Sell?
If you come to learn that tenants have completely trashed your property, the first decision is to decide if you’d rather try to fix it up or if you’d prefer to sell it altogether. Because this is a rental property, there are some unique aspects to consider that will influence your decision.
First, remember that this is supposed to be a money-making venture. But now that you’re dealing with a damaged house or apartment, it’s going to sit vacant while you fix it up. Every day that goes by without a tenant means a day you don’t generate income. Even if you’ve already satisfied the mortgage you still need to pay for property taxes, insurance, utilities, and now repairs. And if you are still making mortgage payments, this place is now a liability.
Second, do you want to keep going? This might be your first bad tenant but it probably won’t be your last. Being a landlord can be a tiring process full of too many surprises and too many extra costs. Even if you sink money and time into restoring the property there’s a chance you’ll have to do it all over again one day. Not to mention all the smaller upgrades and repairs along the way.
One thing to consider even if you’ve decided to sell the property is to rent it out to a handyman. They could rent the property at a discounted rate with the intention of making some repairs in order to get it back in good condition. It’s a win-win for someone looking for an affordable place to live who also has skills to offer. You get to keep generating some revenue but also get some much-needed help in fixing the damage.
Just make sure you’re very clear and upfront about the timeline and the living arrangement. You don’t want to stretch it out too long and then the repairs don’t get made for a while. And if you want to get the house up for sale soon you don’t want to have to deal with another unruly tenant who won’t leave.
Sell the Property As-Is
Presuming the property has been trashed beyond repair, you’re going to have a hard time trying to sell it on the open market. Few buyers want to take a risk on a damaged house, especially one that was a rental unit. Even your fellow real estate property owners will likely balk unless you’re willing to come down significantly on the price. It probably won’t feel worth it, especially if you make any repairs or refurbishments.
However, you can sell the property as-is and avoid a lot of those hassles. Regardless of the condition of the house or apartment, a cash buyer or real estate investor like Element Homebuyers will purchase your property as-is. You don’t have to worry about repairs or dealing with the damage at all.
Simply contact the investor and let them know what the situation is. They’ll come out and do a routine assessment of the property. Then they’ll make you a fair cash offer. Once you’ve decided to move forward, they can close on the deal directly with you in a matter of days. Then, you hand off the damaged property for them to deal with while you get to walk away from the mess left behind.