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Are You Responsible for Damage Caused by Halloween Mischief?

Houston Rental Property with Toilet Paper in the TreesFor several people, Halloween is a night laden with costumes, parties, and candy. Though 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. Even though it is the property owner’s responsibility to keep their Houston rental in habitable condition, most leases require the tenant to keep the property immaculate and in good shape. Presuming holiday pranksters have brought disarray to the front yard, the subject of who is in charge of the clean up may lean on the lease and the amount of damage the prank has truly created.

Although landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state, in general, a property owner is not responsible for mopping up the aftermath of a Halloween prank. Common pranks tend to be more of a nuisance than a legitimate problem. For instance, flinging toilet paper or smashing pumpkins on the driveway are equally abrasive and chaotic problems, but infrequently create severe destruction. Even though the untidiness is not your tenant’s fault, unless you are already doing yard maintenance for them, they will need to be resourceful and clean the mess away themselves.

Despite that, if the prank does result in property damage, mainly the types of damage that would make the house uninhabitable, it is the responsibility of the property owner to make repairs. Even if soaping windows and egging a house can seem like simple enough, these pranks can damage to the exterior surfaces of a house. If the vandalism has caused even more damage to include broken windows, damaged trees or shrubs, or even spray paint, in any case, it is unreasonable to expect a tenant to shoulder the financial burden of the repairs. Most landlord insurance policies will cover vandalism that develops into crucial property damage, but you will need to resolve whether filing a claim is helpful in these predicaments.

You should likewise consider your tenant’s safety when debating responsibility. If the mess from the prank is excessive or would force your tenants to get on a ladder (like clearing toilet paper from the roof or a high tree), it is a good idea to support them with this or hire someone to do it for you. There are roughly 36,000 deaths and more than 164,000 injuries attributed to falls from ladders in the United States each year. By permitting tenants to accomplish cleaning or fixes that require ladders, you are exposing yourself to a high degree of liability. Tenant safety must be a priority when making decisions regarding cleaning up following Halloween chaos.

As the property owner, there are several things you can do to help deter Halloween pranksters. For example, installing motion-sensing lighting throughout the home’s exterior could discourage any aspiring vandals. You can also encourage your tenants to leave exterior lights on during Halloween night. It’s also a smart plan to check your insurance coverage to secure that you will be protected should any Halloween shenanigans culminate in extensive property damage.

Though these are not demanding goals, they do take a long time, and as they say, time is money. To ensure your property is secure and keep hooligans at a distance, think about recruiting a Houston property manager to keep track of things for you. At Real Property Management Avitus, we can evaluate the consequences of any Halloween mayhem and let you decide your next steps. We can also ensure that your renters will execute their tasks, should any messes need to be cleaned up. To find out more, contact us online or call us at 281-570-6357.

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