We’ve all heard landlords tell horror stories about their tenants. Tenants who trashed the home during a party, carried out illegal business on the premises, or tried to sublet without the landlord knowing. These things are frustrating and infuriating but fairly straightforward when it comes to taking action.
However, what about a tenant who actually destroys your home? Maybe they caused a fire or didn’t take the necessary precautions during a hurricane. When it comes to claiming from insurance, the simple answer is that the landlord is responsible for fixing the structure of the apartment. But what other actions can you take?
It would be unsurprising if you wanted the tenant out of your home for good. After all, they destroyed one of your most valuable assets. Let’s take a look at how you can take action against them and whether you can evict them.
Claiming the difference
Your tenant may have renters insurance, but that only covers their possessions. It is your landlord insurance that covers the actual building itself. In theory, this makes the matter open and shut.
However, if you have to pay deductibles, you’ll still be out of pocket. Furthermore, making such a big claim can impact your premiums going forward. While you will have the money to rebuild, you’ll still lose out.
You can withhold the tenant’s security deposit to cover any costs. You may even be able to go further. Your insurer might even expect you to. Rather than simply having your insurance pay and that being the end of it, you could claim from your tenant for the damages. If they have personal liability cover, their insurer will be responsible for paying.
If you successfully claim from them, you won’t have to pay anything for the damages and your claims history will remain untouched.
In some cases, your tenant may have caused the destruction in a way they couldn’t have anticipated. They may be extremely remorseful and somewhat traumatized by the incident. If this is so, you might not feel that there is any reason to evict them once you’ve rebuilt.
However, what if it was their gross negligence that led to the disaster? Maybe this has been coming for ages, and there was one final straw that broke the camel’s back. Is this grounds for an eviction?
When the destruction is so significant, you can definitely consider evicting your tenant. There are laws that protect tenants from being evicted without cause and without due process. But if you follow all the regulations, you should be able to kick them out.
Of course, this is all made easier if they have had to find somewhere else to live in the meantime. You might both be willing to forgo your lease agreement.
What about income lost? Their liability insurance may cover rent payments lost while your home is being repaired. It is definitely something you can include in your claim against them.
What if you’re in the wrong?
The above covers what happens if your tenant destroys your home. But what about if you accidentally destroy your home, along with all of your renter’s possessions? In this case, it will be up to you to claim from insurance for both the home and the contents. While your tenant can claim from renters insurance to pay for their possessions, your insurer will have to cover them if the accident was clearly your fault.
You may also have to pay to find your tenants a place to live while you rebuild your home. All of this can be claimed from insurance, although different providers will have different conditions.
You and your tenant should each have your own insurance. But in a situation where someone is at fault, that person is on the hook. As a landlord, you don’t have to simply accept your tenant’s mistake and move on. You can take legal action against them to claim for the damages and to kick them out of your home.
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