Hopefully your home has never been vandalized. If you own investment properties, you have multiple investments to protect. While it’s probably not the first thing on your mind when it comes to your properties, when vandalism happens there is first a feeling of violation, whether you’re a Landlord or a Tenant, followed by the headaches of cleaning up the mess and working with police and your insurance company. You may then be wondering, “What do you do when it happens? How can I prevent it? Who’s responsible?”
To be honest, there is no black and white answer. Typically, the landlord will be responsible for vandalism unless it is caused by the Tenant or the Tenant’s guest. Regardless, here are the steps you should take when your property is vandalized and some preventative tips for homeowners as well.
As a Tenant:
1. Document Vandalism with Police
Go to the police first. If you witness someone in the act of vandalizing a property, call 9-1-1. If you discover the vandalism at your property, do NOT call 9-1-1. Call the non-emergency police line and request a police report to document the damages in writing.
2. Submit Documentation to Landlord
Once you’ve documented the vandalism with the police, submit the documentation to your Landlord and request the damages be corrected. It’s important to show the Landlord that you are being timely with notifying them and that you are affirming through your police report that the damage was not caused by you or your guests.
As a Landlord or Homeowner:
1. Look at the Property through the Eyes of a Homeowner
Before you rent your home, ask yourself, “If I were living in this home, what would I do to keep my family safe?” Ultimately, the Landlord of a property has a responsibility to maintain a reasonably safe property and grounds and that include reasonable precautions against things like vandalism and break-ins.
2. Take Precautionary Actions
Install adequate lighting and motion sensors in sensitive areas like doors and entry points. Make sure gates and access points are self-closing and are secured by lock and key. Keep landscaping pruned back to thwart thieves and vandals from having a prime hiding place. Whether you’re a Tenant or a Landlord, you should always take steps to protect yourself and/or your property. Ultimately, the safety of the residents is what we all want, regardless of which side of a lease you’re on. Desert Dimensions Properties additionally recommends proactively reaching out to neighbors and providing them with contact information so they can report suspicious activity to management or authorities. Neighbors are often your best defense when they see something.
3. Check with your insurance agent NOW
Often times Landlords believe they are covered by their insurance, but are not. The time to know is before you have an issue. You may have coverage included, or you may need to add that coverage at an additional cost. Knowing the cost will help you determine whether it’s better to have coverage, or to know that you are betting on the odds that repairs will be less costly than long periods of coverage.
When it comes to vandalism, effort is required from both parties (the Tenant and the Landlord) to keep the property and occupants safe from vandalism. If you have questions, want more info or need any help at all regarding vandalism, contact us now.