A house that was trashed by a disgruntled tenant has brought to light the need for landlords to take out insurance.
Recently, a family home in west Melbourne was left in a state of disarray, with broken furniture and debris scattered across the lawn of the house, a couch on the roof, and an ironing board hanging from a tree after a self-managed landlord evicted his tenants from the home.
The investment property had been self-managed by a landlord who had spent $25,000 renovating it last year.
It’s not uncommon for rental homes to be trashed if a tenancy turns sour, RentCover general manager Sharon Fox-Slater said, and even the most rigorous checks at the start of a tenancy are no guarantee.
“People are complex and personal circumstances change,” said Ms Fox-Slater.
“Tenants might fall in with the wrong crowd or react badly to pressure or trauma in their lives – taking their ‘frustrations’ out on the property."
According to Ms Fox-Slater, the eviction process is best left to a third party like a property manager, and insurance cover will give the landlord peace of mind.
“Eviction, in particular, is inevitably fraught with emotion for tenants and unfortunately, some choose to literally hit back at the landlord by damaging their property,” she said.
“Claims for this sort of deliberate damage are actually not uncommon. We’ve paid out claims for smashed walls, extensive graffiti and worse.
“When a house is damaged, there’s a direct cost in performing repairs and an indirect cost because there’s no rent coming in while the place is fixed. For any property investors who don’t have landlord insurance, this case should act as a wake-up call.”
According to media reports, friends of the tenants had moved in over the weekend and had trashed the property in a revenge attack. Police were currently investigating an allegation of criminal damage.
In an interview with Neil Mitchell on 3AW, one of the tenants, ‘Nick’, phoned in to say that his housemates were not the culprits.
“We did not trash the place,” he said. “That was done by I don’t know. We were there on Thursday, we put all the rubbish on the front nature strip and then I left because we were told to leave by the landlord.
“The owner gave us a week to clean up the place and then he came back with the police on the Friday and he told us to leave. By 9pm that night he didn’t give us no keys and no nothing and we left.”
The tenant said he had been evicted for being a couple of months behind in paying his rent, but refuted allegations that friends of the tenants were behind the act.