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Are You Responsible for Damage Caused by Halloween Mischief?

Charleston Rental Property with Toilet Paper in the TreesFor many, Halloween is 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. 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. While it is the property owner’s responsibility to keep their Charleston rental in habitable condition, most leases require the tenant to have the property clean and in good condition. If holiday pranksters have created clutter in the front yard, the question of who is responsible for the clean-up may ultimately depend on the lease and the amount of damage the prank has created.

Even though landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state, as a rule, 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, tossing toilet paper or smashing pumpkins on the driveway are both exasperating and messy bothers, but rarely cause lasting damage. While the mess is not your tenant’s fault, unless you are already taking care of yard maintenance for them, they will have to take the initiative and clean up the mess themselves.

Nevertheless, if the prank results in property damage, specifically 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 innocent enough, these pranks can result in damage to the exterior surfaces of a house. If the vandalism has gone even farther to include broken windows, damaged trees or shrubs, or even spray paint, however, it is unreasonable to expect a tenant to bear the cost of the repairs. Most landlord insurance policies will cover vandalism that results in serious property damage, but you will need to choose whether filing a claim is worth it in these situations.

You ought to similarly 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 a good 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 letting tenants accomplish the cleaning or upkeeps 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 mess.

Being 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 scare 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 certain that you will be protected in the event that Halloween shenanigans do end up causing property damage.

Whereas these are not challenging duties, they do take time, and as they say, time is money. To help keep your property safe and vandals at bay, think about hiring a Charleston property manager to keep an eye on these things for you. At Real Property Management Charleston, we can assess the aftermath of any Halloween mayhem and help you identify your best succeeding steps. We can also guarantee that your tenants will see-through on these errands, should any messes need to be cleaned up. To learn more about our services, contact us online or call us at 843-900-4061.

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