Got trashed during spring break- to sue or not?

Discussion in 'Rentals - Vacation' started by Mango, Apr 9, 2006.

  1. Mango

    Mango SoWal Insider

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    My neighbor and I rent our side by side units together for larger groups. We had spring breakers who we spoke to the mothers and they said they would be supervising 8 girls with 4 moms. Sounded reasonable.
    Found out from one of the other owners they threw a party, and cars from Alabama were parked up and down our driveway, in the street etc.
    The other owner called prior to the party and she said she spoke with one of the moms. WE called after the party and asked the other on-site owner to stop by and ask to speak with a parent under the pretense of a maintenance issue. This was 8:30 am. Girls claimed parents were out. Got a call from a Mom on cell who claimed she was at the beach. Assured me she was supervising, that the party was the next door unit to ours, and that she owned a house in Gulfport once and understood our concern.

    My neighbor who I rented with came down the beach that Friday night to check it out and stayed in my other house on grounds, and found a hellish nightmare. Margarita mix all over her down comforters, down the banisters , broken twin metal frame, our toilets were all backed up, my sinks backed up, and broken disposal. She seemed to get the brunt of it. But we knew the moms could not have been there when we found vomit glued to our decks and railings!
    We had a $600 security deposit, and fortunately her husband was able to repair everything himself in my unit and his, comforters were replaced, and they even managed to lightly power wash the deck (which was just stained!) to get the vomit off.
    I gave her all the deposit collected, but I have a couple of questions?
    1) If my lease has a limit of occupants, and a party is thrown, and my lease says they can be evicted, cars towed off grounds for violation, can I deadbolt the unit and leave their stuff by the curb?
    2) Can I sue for additional damages? The deposit just covered the new linens, comforter, disposal, not to mention the time involved for my friend who did the work while on spring break with her family.
    We are not sure it is worth persuing further, but seething from doing our due dilegence and then being outright lied too by adults! We decided only families from now on. No groups! even adult groups, since only one person is signing lease usually.

    Thanks,
    Donna a/k/a Mango
     
  2. imasunbum

    imasunbum Beach Fanatic

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    Donna - Afraid I don't know your legal rights on this, but just wanted to say how sorry I am that happened. I worry about that nightmare too, just as I am sure everyone else thats rents does. What really concerns me is that anyone can get on the phone and profess to be a parent these days. Do you think that could have happened, and that there were actually never any parents involved?
     
  3. Mango

    Mango SoWal Insider

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    Being a native New Yorker, (we don't trust anyone) I made two of the parents sign the lease, and spoke to both. I am certain that they were adults. I even googled them, and found the father and mother and believe it or not, the father is a lawyer. I got checks from them, so unless she has an adult sister and they stole a check from Dads checkbook, no, the moms lied.
    I believe they were at the beach, just not staying with the girls.
    I even called their house at 5 am in Alabama to see if I got a Mom on the phone, and no one answered. I would assume that they would have answered a call that early if they had any concern for their daughter, especially after what happened to that other girl -was it Lacey, who was abducted on one of the carribbean islands.
    Donna
     
  4. imasunbum

    imasunbum Beach Fanatic

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    man what a shame - I hope you get some satisfaction.
     
  5. Destiny

    Destiny Beach Lover

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    :welcome: Mango,
    I am sorry to hear your sad news. We are renters and always appreciate the opportunity to stay in clean, nice accomodations when away from home. I have posted on the board in the past that some accomodations have been cleaner when we leave than we were arrived. I suppose that has to do with the previous renters. :bang: :confused:
    I don't know what legal recourse you may have but wish you well and hope you have better luck with future renters.
     
  6. Cork On the Ocean

    Cork On the Ocean directionally challenged

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    I'm not a lawyer but have rented for many years. The answer to #1 is definitively NO. You can't take eviction upon yourself and lock them out or remove their belongings or YOU will be sued!

    You can sue for additional damages but whether you will win or not is a different story. I had a long term lease one time where malicious damage was done. A tenant got mad at his girlfriend and literally went through my house with a baseball bat. I called the police and was told they couldn't do anything because the people had my permission to be there and they could just say that's the way we live. So I couldn't file criminal charges in that case but maybe civil.

    In my case, the guy was in bad financial shape by the time he left and there was nothing to get. In yours, if you have the parents signatures on the lease and they have assets, you may be able to get damages but I would think that if the dad is an attorney, he'll drag you through a bunch of legal hassels that will cost more time and money than it's worth. Maybe small claims court where you could file yourself and you wouldn't have a lot of legal expenses but have an attorney review it first to see if you even have a standing. Personally, I wouldn't do it out of emotion, only if the remaining expenses are extensive and worth your trouble.

    So sorry about the damage. This is one of our biggest concerns with doing property management.
     
  7. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    Sorry about the damage Mango. We haven't had that yet, and hope we never do (but it's possible...).

    Cork, if people lie on a lease (e.g. parents are not around or you catch them doing damage), you really can't evict them? For example, if your rental says that no one under 25 allowed to stay at the rental without a parent present and there's no parent present, can't you evict them because they lied (and it's clearly unsafe and then you could get sued for not supervising your rentals if someone falls off a balcony?).

    Anyway, Mango, as I've said before on this board, I advertise our rentals as family-friendly and the area as inviting to little kids with lots of safety things around so that teenagers and partiers will choose to go elsewhere rather than share a community with little kids and parents who treasure their peace and quiet and who will go absolutely insane if anyone wakes up their peacefully sleeping toddler.
     
  8. Cork On the Ocean

    Cork On the Ocean directionally challenged

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    Paula, telling them that they've breached their contract and asking them to leave is different than evicting them. The contracts that we've considered using do say that violation of the contract is a breach and they can be removed but physical eviction is a legal process that can't be taken into one's hands. Like you can't turn off utilities, lock them out, take their stuff. It's my understanding that only the sherriff can physically remove them after an eviction order has been received. I have a client in PC going through it now and believe me, he'd love to kick their a$$es out but he's got to evict them. Surprisingly the county said it would only be a few weeks. Some places it can be months. I would definitely tread lightly and ask an attorney before doing anything forceably. I've always had great luck with the "threat" of eviction - A required 3 day written notice before you can start eviction. Once they get the 3 day notice, they generally move. Only had to ever evict once.
     
  9. Mango

    Mango SoWal Insider

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    The $600 was sufficient to cover losses, and cover my friends time in repairs, and e learned a valuable lesson. We sent a well worded professional letter to the parents
    Its funny, the Mom asked me to send lease to daughter etc. since she wanted her to learn responsibility! :floor:
    Too bad the daughter has no model to exemplify.

    On the whole, most of my guests are clean and take care of my homes to the point of detailing even small items which I appreciate.

    Donna ;)
     
  10. Cork On the Ocean

    Cork On the Ocean directionally challenged

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    Now that's enough to want to teach the mom her responsibity but I guess just use the experience as a lesson and move on.
     
  11. Paula

    Paula Beach Fanatic

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    Thanks, Cork. Hope I never need to use that advice!

    Mango, maybe you could write an open "letter to parents" and have newspapers, including the newspapers in the towns where the kids' parents are from (since you saw their info on the Internet) publish it, explaining how dangerous it is and how expensive it is for the parents who lose their deposit. And you could say that the children of a local lawyer, etc., were on spring break and describe the damage that was done and the safety risks. Some parents who are professionals don't realize that their kids could be the problem.

    You could post drafts here and we could help edit them! Sounds like a job for the SoWal SWAT team. Where were the families from based on what you found on the Internet?
     
  12. audie

    audie fartblossom

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    these happenings just make me sick, and it gives people who rent the beach houses a bad name in general, even tho my hubby and i would never do anything like this. so sorry it happened, maybe the same type thing will happen to the parents one day with their own home, and they will know how you feel.
     
  13. Mango

    Mango SoWal Insider

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    We realized it could have been worse- a lot worse. Its just things.
    Fortunately our damage deposit covered our tooties. I felt bad for my neighbor who took the brunt of it, and fortunate they were able to come down the week when they left to fix things back up.
    I've moved on and forgotten about and I think she has too.

    Thanks Cork for your experience.
    It would have felt really good to lock em out, but figured the possible recourse wasnt worth the effort. They got the picture when we hunted down the Moms down on Monday after their bash.

    Here's a good laugh. One of the girls had the nerve to call and ask if we found her black leather jacket. I told her that I think my cleaning lady used it to clean the vomit off the deck :floor:

    mango
     
  14. Pirate

    Pirate Beach Fanatic

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    I would write a letter to the mother and give a break down of your expenses and losses and ask nicely for the additional funds including a deck re-stain. Hopefully she really does want to teach her child some responsibilty and will make this happen for you.

    I wouldn't count on getting the money but it would make me feel like I did something. I have been in a similar situation more than once and a lawsuit will definitely cost you more than you recoup. Unless you really want to prove a point it isn't worth the considerable effort.

    No renters under 25 for me. Sue me.
     
  15. Sheila

    Sheila SoWal Insider

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    Mango,

    I have a friend that has a large house in Seacrest beach. She had almost the identical thing happen to her three weeks ago. She lives locally so she had actaully met the group to give them the keys and make sure there was adult supervision. She even helped them haul their stuff into the house and made sure they knew where everything was before she left. Got a call at 2am from the Sherriff's ofc. to report they were on their way to check out a disturbance at her home. She got there right after the deputies arrived. There were almost 100 kids! Mom's were no where to be seen, they had hightailed it back to Montgomery! She kicked them all to the curb! She waited for the Mom's to get back and then had the deputy come over and have a little chat with them all. In the end, they were more than happy to pay for all damages and surrender the security deposit. I don't think option B suited them!
     
  16. Cork On the Ocean

    Cork On the Ocean directionally challenged

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    Boy, hadn't heard about that one GTTBM! Have to ask Kat, she's called for everything. We had a BUS full of kids last week. Yes a BUS full of teenagers and Kat told them they couldn't park the bus here. Called Coastal's rental division, they didn't stop them. They just wouldn't obey the rules and park the bus outside the subdivision. It was on the agenda for the BOD last week but they never got to it and they were scheduled to leave the next day.

    You would think with such nice homes these kids couldn't afford to trash homes like these and would have to stick to the old hotels on PCB. It's a real problem and if the management companies kept the homes they managed reasonable, you would think that they could stop by on day 2 of the week and see if there's an adult there.

    We went to a condo that we had listed and found a big dog that wasnt supposed to be there. We called our client, who called the management company and the dog left to stay with the renters friends. It's so sad that people just don't have respect for people's property. I wonder if a camera on the entrance of the house is legal so you can see who's going into your home? :dunno: Might be something to check out for owners.
     
  17. DBOldford

    DBOldford Beach Fanatic

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    Mango, so sorry this happened to you. We have had two separate incidences of this at our Grayton home. One was just two weeks ago. Paula, I like your idea of writing a letter to the editor of their hometown newspaper and I will be penning one to the local paper in Anderson, NC. After the most recent incident, we had the house completely blocked out next year for the month of March and in April up until Easter week, when real familes come. Even if there isn't outright damage, the angst is not worth it, not to mention the concern of some kid being hurt badly or worse while there.

    I am appalled at how many parents will swear and sign agreements to the effect that they will be on the premises at all times, then head for the hills after procuring the keys for their angels. Do not ever believe that your rental/management company is screening effectively, because that practice stops with handing out the keys. In fact, in our instance the County Sheriff was called out and the management was on a vacation of their own. Rentals are apparently down considerably and they will rent to anyone. They won't even charge these people the actual cost of the cleanup for fear that the abusers won't come back next year.

    In our house, housekeeping stopped counting at 20 empty cases of beer and multiple half-gallon empties of liquor, hundreds of cigarette butts on the decks (a deck table used as an ashtray) and pool area, projectile vomiting on several walls and all along baseboards, and a bucket of vomit left in the walk-in food pantry. I don't even want to think about how drunk one has to be to throw up onto a wall. The mother, a registered nurse, swore she was there with these nine girls. When I called the house, the "parent" on the premises thanked me for "taking a chance on these girls." That should have been the first clue. I will also add that this woman did not sound like the parent of a teenager. I will say it again: Parents, you think this kind of thing is always done by someone else's kid. Think again. Left unsupervised, what you have is an alcohol-fueled free for all with drugs and sex (yes, we find evidence of those, too), and other unspeakable activities. You are out of your minds to let your children go off on a group trip like this without responsible parents along. Forget this chaperone stuff, because our experience is that is the person who buys the alcohol!

    As to recourse, our management company has collected damages from the charge card on both occasions when we had problems. They have also required the renters to pay for extra cleaning or carpet cleaning. They take photographs of the house to make their own case and you are entitled to have copies of these. We sent these indecent photos to the first problem parents, who assumed all damages and actually strictly disciplined the kids through their college counseling office. (Parents left the house because the grandmother took a turn for the worse and actually died...house was overrun by kids evicted from another house.) In the second instance, we will send photos to the parents and write that embarrassing letter to their local newspaper.

    You have the right to evict anyone who is occupying your home under breach of the contract. Our management company kicked the first offenders out; they lost both rent and their entire deposit, plus damages. If you have occasion to think there are unsupervised underage kids drinking alcohol and disturbing the peace, you can also call the County Sheriff and have him arrest the entire bunch. More than likely, drugs will be found on the premises, too. (This is when you will see parents, by the way. They will be burning up Hwy. 331 to make bail so their angel doesn't have a record that would be of interest to an Ivy League recruiter.)

    In the end, the only way to make sure this doesn't happen is to not allow your property to be rented during the key time slots. In addition to March through Easter, you should also take care of the last week in May/first in June. That is senior trip week and most younger children are not yet out of school. Parents are not firmly tethered to Planet Earth about the realities of young people and alcohol, drugs, sex. Management companies are oriented to your renters, not to owners, and they flee the area at the end of the day or go on vacation to miss the entire mess. Maybe when their revenues are reduced considerably, they will start to do something meaningful in the way of prevention. But probably not. I was recently told, "Well, maybe they had a little too much fun." Vomiting on a wall doesn't sound like much fun to me... :dunno:
     
  18. Jdarg

    Jdarg SoWal Expert

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    Reading these posts has been helpful to me as a parent- even though my son is only 13, we have already had conversations with other parents about Spring Break. Sounds like SUCH a nightmare for property owners.

    As of now, our future plan is to rent a house in Grayton, and BE THERE, with our kid, and his friends. He can invite a set number of friends and the trip will be on my dime, BUT- I will be there, with not only rules, but lots of ideas for cool things to do. The choice for him will be easy- he can go to the beach with his friends and have a good time, with his parents there, or he can stay home and do nothing. There will be no option C,D, or E! Hopefully, we will like some of his friend's parents, and they can come too!
     
  19. Unplugged

    Unplugged Beach Fanatic

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    Donna: I agree with you about blocking off the property during Spring Break - our experience shows Memorial Day to Labor Day is the optimum time to rent. For us, the meager revenue $$'s and risks just aren't worth it during rest of the year.

    Jdarg: I wish all parents were as responsible as you!

    Cork: This is why we haven't launched a management company: way too many headaches - even the best company will occasionally get fooled by Spring Breakers who are intent on renting under false pretenses....
     
  20. Sheila

    Sheila SoWal Insider

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    This one was not in our neighborhood. This house is on the south side of 30-a in a neighborhood west of us. This particular home had it's own pool. It was trashed as well. The owner was so upset when she was trying to tell us about it. She said at one point while she waited for the Mom's to get there she almost called Walton county just to haul them all off to jail and let them deal with trying to explain to the rest of the groups parents why their kids were in the pokey, while under their supervision. She was amazed at how offended they were that she would dare evict them. :confused:

    I can't belive our board of directors didn't deal with the group in our neighborhood. Bad thing is once you allow it.....it's hard to unring that bell. I hope if something of that nature takes place at my home, I get a call. It may take several hours but I would be there in person to take care of it. Although, I have a good managemnet company that makes drop in visits if they suspect things are not as they seem.
     

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