Every landlord has had a tenant lie to them at some point. It goes with the job.
“Where did that stain come from?” “I don’t know. I think it was here when we moved in.” “No, I have pictures from the day you moved in and there was no stain on the carpet. A matter of fact, it was brand new carpet.”
Battles over security deposits have become the hottest item in our business. Just look at our reviews and you will see comments from previous tenants that we ripped them off, stole their money, and were total jerks when they moved out. Always take before and after pictures. Store them on your computer with clear notes. Have the tenants fill out a move in sheet when they lease. You will still have fights but at least you will have proof.
On the other hand; there are times when you need to give your tenant the benefit of the doubt. Things happen. Weird things happen. They may sound like an obvious lie but….the tenant could be telling the truth and there is no explanation.
I rent my office. I have a commercial grade double pane (thick) window in a metal frame that stands between a refrigerator and a wall and needs to be kept to re-install when we vacate. It is in a corner and has not been moved for three years. This morning we came in to find the top corner shattered on the wall side with small glass chips all over the floor. Unless someone broke in over the night, pulled the window out and threw a rock right at that spot we can only assume that a stress fracture finally gave way. I’m no glass expert but I don’t see any logical reason for this.
I will need to pay for this when I move out and it gets re-installed. I’m in a commercial lease and I pay for everything. But it made me think – how many times do I blame a tenant for something that can’t be proven?
Here’s my test – do I have proof? How long has the tenant lived on the premises? How good of a tenant are they in payments, cleanliness, cooperation, etc.? Do I want to charge someone when it can’t be proved what happened (who really put paper towels in the sewer?) and do I want to lose a really good tenant? There are a number of questions to ask when assigning blame – just make sure it is worth it. Sometimes weird things happen like exploding glass.