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Are You Responsible for Damage Caused by Halloween Mischief?

Brewer Rental Property with Toilet Paper in the TreesFor several people, Halloween is a night full of costumes, parties, and candy. Still, Halloween also tends to bring out the mischief-makers, those who take advantage of the holiday to pull pranks and cause mayhem. Whenever those pranks create messes or even damage your rental property, it can be difficult to know who is responsible for the cleanup and repairs. Although it is the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that their Brewer rental is in habitable condition, most leases require the tenant to keep the property orderly and in good shape. If holiday pranksters have made a mess in the front yard, the question of who is liable for the cleanup may eventually depend on the lease and the amount of damage the prank has actually made.

Even though landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state, overall, 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 instance, flinging toilet paper or smashing pumpkins on the driveway are both frustrating and untidy problems, but seldom induce permanent destruction. Although the mess is not your tenant’s liability, unless you are then taking care of yard maintenance for them, they will need to be intelligent enough to clean up the mess on their own volition.

Nonetheless, if the prank results in property damage, particularly the types of damage that would make 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 end in damage to the exterior surfaces of a house. If the vandalism has gone even out of hand to include broken windows, damaged trees or shrubs, or even spray paint, yet, it is unreasonable to expect a tenant to carry the burden of the repair costs. Most landlord insurance policies will cover vandalism that happens in severe property damage, but you will need to decide whether filing a claim is worth the time and effort in these cases.

You also need to 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 (such as eliminating toilet paper from the roof or a tall tree), it is an excellent 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 permitting tenants to administer cleaning or renovations that would need 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’s destruction.

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

While these are not tough tasks, they do take time, and as they say, time is money. To help keep your property safe and vandals at bay, contemplate hiring a Brewer property manager to keep an eye on things for you. At Real Property Management Acadia, 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 207-561-7482.

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