How to Handle Angry Tenants Who Damage Your Property on Purpose

It’s every landlord’s worst nightmare—a hostile, angry tenant who destroys the property because he or she is mad about eviction proceedings. Tenants like this figure they have nothing to lose and get revenge on the mean landlord by causing thousands of dollars in damage to the structure and breaking or stealing appliances.

From smashing windows, tearing up carpet, punching holes in the walls and ripping out appliances, an angry tenant can really cause damage to the rental.

When faced with this situation, landlords have few options.

That’s why we decided to cover this topic in a video excerpt on how to take control of the situation with the ICE Method.

(after watching the video above) Let’s use the ICE Method to handle an angry tenant destroying your rental.

Steps to take when tenant damages rental property:

You own a double and your upstairs tenant called to say he thinks the downstairs tenant is destroying the rental based on loud noises they’re hearing. You have a lease in place with the downstairs tenant that doesn’t end for another 7 months. Now let’s run this scenario through the ICE Method.

1. Identify

The first step is to identify the situation. Do you actually know 100% that the tenant is destroying the property? Are you upset and susceptible to emotional decision making? Have you had any past issues with the tenant in question and how will that change the way you approach the tenant.

2. Categorize

Is this situation something you can control or not? In this particular case it depends on the landlord.

Many times landlords get upset but they don’t actually take control of the situation. Don’t waste time worrying about the situation but take action to take control of the situation.

A great first place to start is to get into the rental to inspect it. You’ll need to give the tenant a 24 hour notice. I’d suggest posting the notice on their door and call them 24 hours in advance.

When you go through the rental, document any damages (read below) and assess the situation. Your lease is going to be crucial to moving the situation into the “circle of influence.”

If you’re unsure on how to use your lease in this situation you can consult with a lawyer, which again is a way of taking action and categorizing into the circle of influence.

3. Eliminate

You want to eliminate this issue. That doesn’t necessarily mean eviction in this hypothetical scenario. It means getting to the bottom of the situation and eliminating the actual issue.

Is the tenant causing damage?

Perhaps they’re playing Grand Theft Auto really loud and the upstairs neighbor thought they were smashing things.

Or… maybe they are damaging the property. If this is the case, commit to taking care of the issue.

The hardest situations are the ones we tend to avoid the most. A situation with a destructive tenant certainly classifies as a difficult situation.

It’s natural to want to avoid this but you need to commit to a time you’ll take care of it. In this instance the best time is ASAP because you don’t want further damage being done to your rental.

Run through the ICE Method in your situation and figure out how you can take control.

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Get Your Emotions In Check

This is tough to do when you’re in a situation where you feel taken advantage of.

However, when landlord’s make emotional decisions it can be costly.

Locking your tenant out of the rental is not a good solution and you could end up paying them for each day they’re locked out of the rental.

Take a moment to get your emotions in check so you can follow the proper procedures.

One way you can do this is by joining our private Facebook community of landlords and ask questions about your situation.

For instance here is one thread from the community…

If you want access to the community just go to in order to get the password to join.

We keep the discussion in the group about managing rentals and no promotion of any sort.

Eric will add you to the community as soon as he can.

Just keep the questions in the group constructive and not just a place to bash tenants.

What Do I Do When A Tenant Damages The Rental Property?

On episode #30 of our podcast we discuss a few ways you can deal with this unfortunate situation.

The topics include “Cash For Keys” and how to use the SODA form for documenting the damages.

You can download a SODA form template from the show notes of episode #30 about what to do when a tenant damages your rental.

Make Sure You Document Everything

Regardless of the offense, if anything crazy happens to your property make sure that you document it properly. Here are some tips to do just that:

Take Pictures and Video

As soon as you discover the damage, grab your video camera and still camera and take video and pictures of every inch of the rental property. This documentation is valuable in establishing the level of destruction for a future court case. Make sure the images have a time stamp and date stamp on them.

Here’s a video we created showing you how you can add a timestamp.

Click here >>> iPhone Timestamp App

Click here >>> Android Timestamp App

Gather Bids for Repairs

As soon as you can, invite experts in to provide estimates on how much it will cost you to restore the unit to its original condition.

Keep copies of the bids and subsequent invoices for your court case.

You should proceed quickly to get the rental property ready to lease again to minimize your financial cost.

Deduct from the Security Deposit

Don’t forget to still follow the laws of your state when it comes to refunding the tenant’s security deposit.

While the cost of repairs in an event like this will more than likely exceed the amount of the deposit, you are still required to send an itemized list of repairs with the costs deducted from the deposit to the tenant within a set number of days.

The form you fill out is called a SODA form or a Security Deposit Disposition form.

It’s important to fill this form out and get it to the tenant within state guidelines. Some states (such as Washington) require this to happen within 14 days of the end of the lease or eviction.

Law Enforcement and the Courts

Once you document everything, you still need to seek legal help.

Here are a few tips if you decide to take legal action:

Call Your Local Police

Always contact your local police department to report the damage and destruction. This helps you with official paperwork to document the event and see if there is enough to lead to an arrest. Note that just because you file a police report, it doesn’t mean there will be an arrest or criminal charges. If the damage is significant enough and numerous valuable items were stolen, the police may consider it a criminal case and file charges.

It’s possible that charges such as criminal mischief could be filed. If there are additional illegal elements that are tied up with the damage, such as making meth in the unit, the police are more likely to take action.

Seek Restitution via Civil Court

Often the police department won’t make an arrest in cases like this so your other option is to seek restitution via civil court. This means you file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the cost of repairs of the damage. It’s best to get an attorney for this action and realize that the process can take a while to work its way through the courts. If the former tenants were having trouble paying rent in the first place, it is likely you won’t recover much in the long run.

Contact Your Insurance Company

Your final course of action is to contact your insurance company if the damage is extensive enough. You may be covered under certain conditions for some or all of the cost to repair damages. Your insurance company will also want to see a police report, so make sure you have copies to send. Your insurance agent should be able to work with you on exactly what else you need to do.

Landlord Nightmares in the News

While every landlord hopes that the angry tenant scene never plays out in his or her rental property, unfortunately, there are incidents where tenants seek revenge.

Here are just a few stories that reflect this all-too-common action:

Evicted Tenants Seek Revenge, Destroy Property Says Landlord

When a landlord served her tenants’ eviction papers for nonpayment of rent, the tenants trashed the property. Read the full story here.

Tenant Sledgehammers Apartment Over $2,500 Deposit Beef

In France, a tenant seeking revenge on a landlord who did not refund his deposit takes a sledgehammer to the apartment, videotapes the act, then posts it on YouTube. Read the full story here.

Landlord on Hook After Tenant Trashes Unit

A teenage tenant, approved by a social services agency, destroys a rental property, and the landlord faces an uphill battle in getting compensation for damages. Read the full story here.

How Can Landlords Avoid This?

Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do to avoid situations like this when an angry tenant is set on causing destruction. One option that is increasing in popularity is known as “cash for keys,”  or when a landlord offers money to the tenants to leave the property right away. This practice may entice struggling tenants to exit without damages in order to get some quick cash.

What’s the worst tenant revenge you’ve ever witnessed or heard about? Share this article and let us know your experiences in the comments below.

Landlord Rights When Tenant Destroys Property

A landlord has rights when tenants destroy their property and this usually comes in the form of financial repayment. The first step is to document the damage and serve a notice to the tenant. If the tenant is evicted or already abandoned the property the landlord can deduct money from the security deposit. If the damages exceed the funds in the security deposit the landlord can sue the tenant in small claims court.

Tenant Damage Property Eviction

When a tenant damages property eviction is a legal recourse. You’ll want to make sure you follow the proper eviction steps which include serving a proper eviction notice. If a tenant is severely damaging a rental property they are violating the lease and may be evicted for this infraction. Don’t want or there could be further damage accrued during this period.