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Are You Responsible for Damage Caused by Halloween Mischief?

Elkhorn Rental Property with Toilet Paper in the TreesFor numerous people, Halloween means a night filled with costumes, parties, and candy. But Halloween also tends to bring out the mischief-makers, those who take advantage of the holiday to pull pranks and cause mayhem. In the event 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 keep their Elkhorn rental in habitable condition, most leases require the tenant to keep the property clean and in excellent shape. In the event that holiday pranksters have created an eyesore in the front yard, the issue of who is held liable for the clean-up may rely on the lease and the amount of damage the prank has actually caused.

Even though landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state, normally, a property owner is not responsible for cleaning up the aftermath of a Halloween prank. Common pranks tend to more of a nuisance than a legitimate problem. For example, flinging toilet paper or smashing pumpkins on the driveway are both annoying and messy nuisances, but hardly ever bring about lasting damage. While the mess is not your tenant’s culpability unless you are already taking charge of yard maintenance for them, they will need to take the initiative and clean up the mess themselves.

Nonetheless, lest the prank results in property damage, particularly the types of damage that would render the house uninhabitable, it is the responsibility of the property owner to make repairs. While soaping windows and egging a house can seem harmless enough, these pranks can result in damage to the exterior surfaces of a house. If the vandalism has gone even beyond to include broken windows, damaged trees or shrubs, or even spray paint, still, it is unreasonable to expect a tenant to assume responsibility for the cost of the repairs. Most landlord insurance policies will cover vandalism that results in serious property damage, but you will have to decide whether filing a claim is worth it in these conditions.

It would be good to also consider your tenant’s safety when debating responsibility. In case the mess from the prank is excessive or would force your tenants to get on a ladder (such as getting rid of toilet paper from the roof or a tall tree), it is a great idea to help them with this or hire someone to do it for you. There are an estimated 36,000 deaths and more than 164,000 injuries attributed to falls from ladders in the United States each year. By tolerating tenants do the cleaning or maintenances that involve ladders, you are exposing yourself to a high degree of liability. Tenant safety must be a priority when making decisions about how to clean up after Halloween chaos.

As a property owner, there are several things you can do to help deter Halloween pranksters. For instance, installing motion-sensing lighting around the home’s exterior could ward off any would-be vandals. You can likewise encourage your tenants to leave exterior lights on Halloween night. It’s also a great time to check your insurance coverage to make sure that you will be protected in the event that Halloween shenanigans do end up causing property damage.

While these are not hard tasks, they do take time, and as they say, time is money. To help keep your property safe and vandals at bay, consider hiring an Elkhorn property manager to keep an eye on things for you. At Real Property Management Legacy, we can assess the aftermath of any Halloween mayhem and help you determine your best next steps. We can also ensure that your tenants will follow through on their responsibilities, should any messes need to be cleaned up. To learn more about our services, contact us online or call us at 402-983-8365.

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