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Are You Responsible for Damage Caused by Halloween Mischief?

Haskell Rental Property with Toilet Paper in the TreesFor many, Halloween is an evening packed with costumes, parties, and candy. Though Halloween also tends to bring out the mischief-makers, those who take advantage of the holiday to pull pranks and cause mayhem. If 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 have their Haskell rental in habitable condition, most leases require the tenant to keep the property tidy and in excellent shape. If holiday pranksters have made a mess in the front yard, the subject of who is accountable for the clean-up may eventually depend on the lease and the amount of damage the prank has caused.

While landlord/tenant laws vary from state to state, generally, a property owner is not responsible for tidying 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 frustrating and messy problems, but seldom create permanent harm. While the mess is not to be blamed on your tenant, unless you are already taking care of yard maintenance for them, they will need to take the lead and clean up the mess themselves.

Nevertheless, if the prank results in property damage, particularly the types of damage that would render 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, though, it is unreasonable to expect a tenant to accept the cost of the repairs. Most landlord insurance policies will cover serious property damage that is the product of vandalism, but you will need to determine whether filing a claim is worth your time and efforts under these circumstances.

You could also consider your tenant’s safety when debating responsibility. In case the mess from the prank is excessive or would force your tenants to get on a ladder (such as taking all the toilet paper from the roof or a tall tree), it is always 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 permitting tenants to fulfill any cleaning or repairs that necessitate the use of 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 scare off any would-be vandals. You can also encourage your tenants to leave exterior lights on Halloween night. It’s also a great time to check your insurance coverage to check if you will be covered in the event that Halloween shenanigans do result in triggering 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 a Haskell property manager to keep an eye on things for you. At Real Property Management Hometown, we can assess the aftermath of any Halloween mayhem and help you identify your best next steps. We can also ensure that your tenants will see through their everyday jobs, should any messes need to be cleaned up. To learn more about our services, contact us online or call us at 501-701-4702 or 501-303-6870.


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