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Are You Responsible for Damage Caused by Halloween Mischief?

Smithfield Rental Property with Toilet Paper in the TreesFor quite a lot of people, Halloween is a night crammed with costumes, parties, and candy. But still, Halloween also tends to bring out the mischief-makers, those who take advantage of the holiday to pull pranks and cause mayhem. When those pranks create messes or even damage your rental property, it can be difficult to know who is responsible for the clean-up and repairs. While it is the property owner’s responsibility to have their Smithfield rental in habitable condition, most leases require the tenant to maintain the property dirtless and in a marvelous state. If holiday pranksters have created a mess in the front yard, the question of who is required for the clean up may essentially boil down to the lease and the amount of damage the prank has essentially caused.

While landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state, a property owner is mostly not responsible for spring-cleaning the aftermath of a Halloween prank. Common pranks tend to be more of a nuisance than a legitimate problem. For instance, throwing toilet paper or smashing pumpkins on the driveway are equally irksome and messy annoyances but scarcely cause considerable desecration. And while the turmoil is not your tenant’s slip-up, unless if you are already doing the yard maintenance for them, they will need to take the initiative and tidy up the mess themselves.

But in spite of that, if the prank results in property damage, chiefly the types of damage that would make the house uninhabitable, it is the responsibility of the property owner to make repairs. Although soaping windows and egging a house can appear harmless, these pranks can trigger damage to the exterior surfaces of a house. If the vandalism has gone even farther to include broken windows, damaged trees or shrubs, or even spray paint, nonetheless, it is unreasonable to expect a tenant to endure the hefty price tag of the repairs. Most landlord insurance policies will cover vandalism that causes significant property damage, but you will need to decide whether filing a claim is justifiable in these circumstances.

Always make sure to consider your tenant’s safety when debating responsibility. If the clutter from the prank is excessive or would force your tenants to get on a ladder (like taking out the toilet paper from the roof or a big tree), it is a good idea to assist them with this or hire someone to do it for you. There are approximately 36,000 deaths and more than 164,000 injuries attributed to falls from ladders in the United States each year. By allowing tenants to do spring-cleaning or upkeeps that require the use of ladders, you are exposing yourself to a high degree of liability. Tenant safety must be a priority when making decisions regarding cleaning up because of the Halloween mayhem.

As a property landlord, there are several things you can do to help deter Halloween pranksters. For example, installing motion-sensing lighting around the home’s exterior could deter any possible vandals. You can even encourage your tenants to leave exterior lights on Halloween night. It’s also a critical time to check your insurance coverage to make confirm that you will be insured provided that Halloween shenanigans do turn out to instigate significant property damage.

Although it may seem that these are not tough errands, they do take time, and as they say, time is money. To make your property sheltered and keep troublemakers away, deliberate authorizing a Smithfield property manager to manage your property for you. At Real Property Management Cache Valley, we can calculate the ramification of any Halloween mayhem and help you discern your best next steps. We can also make sure that your tenants will accomplish their tasks, should any messes need to be cleaned up. To learn more about our services, contact us online or call us at 435-753-5200.

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