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Are You Responsible for Damage Caused by Halloween Mischief?

EvanstonRental Property with Toilet Paper in the TreesFor some people, Halloween is one evening where you can find a variety of costumes, parties, and candy. Nevertheless, Halloween also tends to bring out the mischief-makers, those who take advantage of the holiday to pull pranks and cause mayhem. In the event that those pranks create messes or even damage your rental property, it can be difficult to know who is responsible for the cleanup and repairs. Plus, even if it is the property owner’s responsibility to keep their Evanston rental in habitable condition, most leases require the tenant to make sure that the property is kept tidy and in good shape. If holiday pranksters have already created a mess in the front yard, the issue of who is held liable for the cleanup may ultimately depend on the lease and the volume of damage the prank has actually caused.

Even though landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state, the majority 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 instance, launching toilet paper or smashing pumpkins on the driveway are relatively annoying and messy bothers, but very seldom can cause lasting damage. Even though the mess is not your tenant’s doing, except if you were previously taking responsibility for yard maintenance for them, they would have to make an effort to clear-out the mess themselves.

But, if the prank results in property damage, mainly 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 farther to include broken windows, damaged trees or shrubs, or even spray paint, still, it is unreasonable to expect a tenant to bear the burden of the value of the rehabilitation. Most landlord insurance policies will cover vandalism that results in serious property damage, and you will have to determine early on whether filing a claim is worth it in these incidents.

Moreover, you also have to consider your tenant’s safety when debating responsibility. In the event that the mess from the prank is excessive or would force your tenants to get on a ladder (such as eliminating the toilet paper from the roof or a high tree), it is an excellent plan to assist them with this or hire someone to do it for you. There are reportedly 36,000 deaths and more than 164,000 injuries attributed to falls from ladders in the United States each year. By authorizing tenants to do cleaning or upkeeps that include 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 such as installing motion-sensing lighting from one place to another; the home’s exterior could ward off any planned vandals. You can moreover encourage your tenants to leave exterior lights on Halloween night. It’s also a great time to check your insurance coverage to confirm that you will be protected in the event that Halloween shenanigans do end up causing property damage.

While these are not difficult tasks, they do take time, and as they say, time is money. To help keep your property safe and vandals at bay, consider hiring an Evanston property manager to keep an eye on things for you. At Real Property Management Chicago Edge, 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 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 773-904-7700.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.