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What can I do to prevent or address home damage by a renter?

When you rent a vacation or residential home to tenants, there are a great deal of things to worry about, not the least of which is potential damage the tenants may inflict upon your property. Ordinary wear and tear is to be expected in Illinois rentals, but accidental or intentional damage beyond the norm can be costly and have a huge impact on your investment.

According to the American Apartment Owners Association, your tenants should not be held financially responsible for the usual wear and tear that occurs in any home, which includes carpets gradually becoming threadbare in traffic areas, cabinet door hinges wearing out and small scuffs and scratches appearing on walls and baseboards, as well as other forms of minor damage. On the other hand, damage that you may hold your tenant responsible for can include the following:

  • Accidental damage, such as a burn on the carpet when a hot iron fell onto the floor
  • Damage that could have been prevented, as in water damage resulting from a clogged toilet
  • Willful and intentional destruction of your property, such as breaking or stealing fixtures and appliances belonging to the home

The security deposit your tenants place before moving in is meant to cover the costs of wear and tear and small amounts of damage. However, if the costs to repair accidental or purposeful damage exceeds the amount of the security deposit, you may be entitled to take your tenant to court. You may also be able to evict a tenant who is repeatedly causing significant property damage, even if it is accidental. Since this topic may be complex, this information is not meant to replace the advice of a lawyer.