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Are You Responsible for Damage Caused by Halloween Mischief?

Lexington Rental Property with Toilet Paper in the TreesHalloween is a night filled with costumes, parties, and candy, and for so many people, it can be more than just a fun night. 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 clean-up and repairs. While it is the property owner’s responsibility to make sure that their Lexington rental is kept in habitable condition, most leases require the tenant to keep the property clean and in good condition. If holiday pranksters have created a mess in the front yard, everybody is asking– who is going to be held accountable for the clean-up? It will eventually depend on the lease, and the amount of damage the prank has actually caused.

Even though landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state, most of the time, 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, hurling toilet paper or smashing pumpkins on the driveway are both frustrating and messy nuisances, but they seldom bring about lasting damage. While the mess is not your tenant’s doing, unless you are already taking care of yard maintenance for them, they will need to take action themselves and clean up the mess.

Nevertheless, in case the prank results in property damage, especially 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 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 take care of 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 situations.

It would help if you also considered 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 removing 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 letting tenants do 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 mayhem.

As a property owner, there are several things you can do to help deter Halloween pranksters. For example, 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 covered 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 a Lexington property manager to keep an eye on things for you. At Real Property Management Commonwealth, 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 617-299-2342.

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