Here’s What to do If a Tenant Damages Your Property

A house is badly damaged in Houston, TX.

Do you know what to do if a tenant damages property that belongs to you? The trouble with property damage in Texas can become extensive and become pricey. As such, you may want to take the tenant’s security deposit or request that the tenant pays for an itemized list of damage.

There are numerous steps you can take to get the payment for repairs and you can even take legal action if you’re unsure what to do if a tenant damages property you own in Texas. Make sure to document everything before heading to court.

Unlike normal wear and tear, significant damage to your real estate property may bring your tenants into small claims court. Therefore, it’s much easier for tenants to immediately pay for the cost of repairs instead of ending up having to cover legal fees as well.

Otherwise, you can also attempt to file a claim with your property insurance company. In addition, you can also prevent such damage with tenant screening protocols before a tenant moves in. If your renter destroys property, you can take a specific course of action detailed below. Check out what to do if a tenant damages your property in Texas.

Has a Tenant Damaged Your Property?

So, what will happen if your tenant destroys property you own? Generally, you can deduct the costs to repair accidental damage from a tenant’s security deposit.

However, you’ll need to understand what type of damage is due to the tenants and which type is either normal wear and tear or due to an aging house. You may need to get a mediator or go to small claims court if you have tenancy problems in which the renter refuses to pay for repairs.

If you want to determine whether the tenant has damaged your property or not, you’ll need to follow a few simple rules. Landlord and tenant rules include checking the unit together on the first day when the tenant moved in. You’ll want the renter to acknowledge the condition of the apartment or house in writing.

Then, you can compare any damages once your tenant picks a move-out date. Furthermore, you’ll need to consider a few things when charging tenants for any damage to your rental property, such as:

  • The age of the broken item
  • The initial cost of the damaged appliances or property
  • How much it costs to completely replace an appliance or item
  • How long it will take to repair a part of the home

What To Do If a Tenant Damages Your Property

If a tenant damages a rental unit, a property owner will need to check their state laws regarding security deposits. Every state has its own variations of landlord-tenant laws including the rules around security deposits. 

For instance, Florida’s laws require landlords to provide 30 days of notice to their tenants and specify what landlords can deduct from security deposits. So check your state law to see what you can charge tenants for damage to your home.

Generally, landlords cannot charge their tenants for normal wear and tear of the property. Only if a certain item or section of the home was abused or neglected could the landlord require a renter to cover repair costs. Otherwise, ordinary use of a property should not lead to significant damage.

For instance, if doorknobs become loose or the shower needs recaulking, that’s considered average wear and tear. However, landlords can charge tenants to fix carpet stains and broken tiles.

Further, landlords can check their property insurance policy to see if some forms of repairs can get covered through the insurer.    

Workers fix a damaged roof in Houston, TX.

Calculating Repair Costs

Does your rental unit need a contractor to complete repairs? If so, you should obtain several estimates from two or three contractors for these repairs. Then, you can use these estimates to back up what you charge the tenants. You can give the estimates to the tenants and the court or mediator if it comes to that.

Furthermore, HomeAdvisor is another website that can provide you with an estimate of repair costs in your neighborhood. The site HomeWyse is a good option if you need to check material costs and maintenance fees. Further, keep the receipts for any repairs that you complete or hire a contractor for.

After calculating repair costs, you will need to give the renter an itemized list of the damages and the cost for each repair. Provide the tenant with all estimates or receipts for repair work. Then, you can deduct the costs from the tenant’s security deposit. 

Yet, if you find any damage during the tenancy period before the renter moves out, you can send them a notice for the issues with an invoice outlining what they’re responsible for paying. If you’re having significant problems with your renters and they’re not paying their monthly rent, you can always consider selling a house with tenants after an eviction.

Getting Repairs Done

There are specific repairs that a landlord will need to complete immediately upon damage. Landlord-tenant laws require homeowners to make sure the residence meets livable standards. The immediate repairs landlords will need to make include:

  • Fixing walls, ceilings, or other structural damage
  • Mending electrical failures
  • Restoring plumbing problems or leaky pipes
  • Hiring exterminators for infestations
  • Removing any visible mold
  • Fixing broken locks and doors

If a problem with the home affects the habitability of tenants, the landlord needs to move forward with repairs within 24 hours of getting a request to fix the issue. The tenant-landlord laws in most states require a quick 24-hour turnaround toward repairing major issues.

Yet, to have a good relationship with your tenants, you should still pursue a 48-hour response even with less severe problems. The type of issues that landlords will need to repair and tenants will lose portions of their security deposit include:

  • Large holes in walls
  • Broken tiles and fixtures
  • Torn or stained carpets
  • Clogged drains associated with improper use
  • Broken windows and screens
  • Damaged window blinds
  • Pest extermination such as mice
  • Significant appliance damage

Getting the Tenant to Pay for Repairs

Tenants have specific responsibilities when they move into a home owned by a landlord. For example, renters need to handle their trash responsibly, utilize electricity and gas safely, and ensure their plumbing systems remain clean.

Any destruction to your property beyond normal wear and tear is the financial responsibility of the tenant to repair. If your tenant destroys your property, there are five steps you can follow to get the tenant to pay for repairs.

First, you have to identify the problem and the damage to make sure it is the tenant’s fault. The second step involves documenting all the damage caused. Take photographs of the destruction. You can even make a video of a walkthrough of the property.

You’ll need to take written and photographic evidence of what your place looked like when the tenant moved in. Then, you can compare the photos before and after the damage.

The third step is to get estimates from vendors, handymen, and contractors. Make sure to get multiple estimates for the repairs. Now, talk to the tenant and provide all estimates or receipts. Start with a simple discussion. However, if the tenants refuse to cover the costs, you may need to take them to court.

Before you start any legal proceedings, you should check whether the security deposit check will cover the costs of repairs. The last step involves deducting the costs from the security deposit.

Legal Proceedings If Tenant Refuses to Pay for Repairs

Have you found that the costs of repairs will actually extend beyond the amount in the security deposit? If so, you may need to take legal proceedings when the tenant refuses to pay for the rest of the repair costs. 

Furthermore, if you ever find yourself in a situation where the tenant becomes hostile or violent, you should likely file a police report. You can then give the tenant a three-day notice of eviction if they pose a threat to your property or the neighbors.


After reading through the information in this guide, you should know exactly what to do if a tenant damages property that belongs to you. If you’re having trouble with your tenants and they refuse to pay for repairs or even cover their monthly rent, you can take them to court and eventually have them evicted.

If you’re no longer interested in remaining a landlord, you can consider selling a house as is, especially if you can’t cover the costs of repairs or renovations. Cash home buyers in Arlington often purchase homes in their as-is condition, so contact a cash-buying company to see how much you can sell your property for.

If you want to sell a house fast in Texas, real estate investors and house flippers are the way to go. Since cash buyers don’t need to wait on a mortgage loan approval, they can complete a home sale in a few short weeks. We buy houses Houston residents love, so give us a call today!

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