Reason a Tenant Can Sue You!
Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Coastal Real Estate believes that properly implementing quality industry standards in Property Management is your first safeguard against unnecessary lawsuits as a Landlord. Usually there are just a few key areas where a Landlord could incur a legal action against them. Our policy is to follow strict guidelines around these issues, so this problem is minimized.
Maintaining your rental property to an appropriate, safe, sound and sanitary standard is our first priority. We conduct physical home inspections by a professional Property Manager twice a year to verify these basic standards are in affect. The Property Manager should qualify if any visible, broken or damaged home features are discovered during the inspection. They should reinforce to the tenant the importance of timely reporting to the Property Manager damaged or malfunctioning home features. Some tenants may avoid reporting damage in hopes of deferring repair or replacement charges to them. But living long term with inferior home safety issues only invites an unwanted injury or further home destruction. An in person, bi-annual inspection, ensures that the Landlord is proactive in their responsibility toward the tenant and maintenance issues.
Another problematic issue in Landlord/Tennant lawsuits relates to handling of the escrowed “security deposit”. These funds are to be held in a “trust account” by the Property Manager with strict guidelines around how they must be disbursed at the end of the lease term. Unreasonably withholding a tenant’s security deposit, is crucial in avoiding a lawsuit by the tenant. In South Carolina, you have 30 days from termination of tenancy to return a tenant’s security deposit, minus any deductions for tenant damage.
Landlords will withhold items from a tenant’s security deposit such as unpaid rent, cleaning cost, damage that is not ordinary wear and tear, replacing lost keys or remotes and terminating the lease early. Unless one or more of these issues are evident it is in the Landlord’s best interest to return the security deposit promptly to the tenant. If disbursement reservations are violated, it is essential for the Property Manager to document the contractual breaches by the Tennant. The Property Manager should only back-charge the tenant’s actual repair and replacement costs associated with making the property “Market Ready”.
Courts in Horry County and surrounding communities require strict proof of property damage and contractual breach of the Lease Agreement. Our approach is to keep the properties we manage well documented with appropriate tenant communication support. Also, we report damage/malfunction repair to avoid any hint of taking advantage of their security deposit.
Avoiding a potential lawsuit is our way of protecting all parties involved, so this type of unpleasant experience never occurs. Let Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices - Coastal Real Estate be your Property Management Team to avoid potential lawsuits.