Tenant Damage to a Rental House Riles Insurance Company

Tenant Damage to a  Rental House

If you have tenant damage to a rental house, call your insurance company, then a lawyer.

I pause sadly to reflect on our last season running of Nurse Jackie, in which Edie Falco plays a drug-addicted medical professional, and then brighten when I think about the pair of doctors who are getting sued because they damaged a rental house. There is retribution in the world. These two doctors, I’m told, recently bought a million-dollar home somewhere but not before trying to destroy my client’s house. Tenant damage to a rental house is always a seller concern.

I suppose it’s possible that they just lived that way, in a pile of rotting garbage, and the tenant damage to a rental house was not intentionally inflicted. I mean, after all, when I tried to get an appointment to inspect the home, I was informed that they would not allow it. As though they could prevent it through sheer haughtiness and mean spirit because all rental agreements provide for the right to enter with 24 hours’ written notice. Which I could have prepared and stapled to their front door, but why cause a normal person like me more stress than is necessary?

If they were living in squalor, I can see why they might so vehemently be opposed to anybody from the outside world peering into theirs. Doctors are not immune from mental disease and, in some ways, might be more prone, just given the profession. I once worked with a doctor client from Davis who was looking at homes in Land Park, and he made no bones about what he thought of himself. He said, “I want a home that my friends can drive by and say ‘that’s where Dr. So-and-So lives.'” He eventually couldn’t afford it, and stayed in Davis.

There was no choice in this matter except for the sellers to evict the tenants so we could sell the home. I generally work very well with tenants when selling a rental home, but these people were not cooperative in the least. After the tenants vacated and moved into their million-dollar home, the property management went over to investigate. They found extensive tenant damage to the rental house. The carpet was so bad it had to be replaced, and the cherry cabinets had to be refinished — this home is 6 or 7 years new. The tops of the knee walls looked like somebody grabbed a pizza and ground it into the paint, then poured beer on top of it and stuck their red plastic cups in the mess to decay. It was a work of art. But not quite an installation.

I suppose they figured nobody would go after them and this was payback for being evicted. Surprisingly, the seller’s insurance company paid for all of the repairs. Why? Because the company determined the home was vandalized. It was more than tenant damage to a rental house, it was intentional and vindictive. The insurance company ran samples of the carpeting at a lab and discovered that Castrol oil had been poured on the carpeting, deliberately, they concluded. But you know, if those tenants can afford a million-dollar home, let’s hope they can afford to write the insurance company a big fat check. You can’t damage a rental house and expect to get off scott-free.

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