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Can you go to jail for damaging rental property?

In the domain of property regulation, rental property harm refers to any mischief caused by an occupant upon a landowner’s property. This can envelop many situations, from accidental incidents like broken windows or spilled drinks, to severe intentional acts like vandalism or arson. For instance, a study in 2018 reported 35,128 arson accidents in the US. The obligation regarding such harm regularly falls on the occupant, except for minor mileage. However, the legitimate ramifications and severity of the consequences rely upon the nature and degree of the damage. Understanding the legal framework encompassing rental property damage is crucial for landowners and occupants to navigate potential disputes and liabilities. Therefore, if you’re wondering whether can you go to jail for damaging rental property then you’re going to find all the information related to it today in this blog and get the desired answer.

Definition of Rental Property Damage in Law

According to law property damage is any harm caused by a tenant to a landlord’s property. For example, breaking a glass door or window, burning down the house, multiple holes in the walls, cigarette burns or liquid stains on carpet and curtains, or vandalizing someone’s car.

The damage can be caused by a random individual or the tenant in the case of rental property. 

Who is chargeable for rental property damage?

Usually, the tenant is legally accountable for property damage other than minor wear and tear. However, the proof of negligence by the tenants in terms of documents like photos or estimated damage amounts, and reports is essential before any legal action. 


Accidental vs Intentional Property Damage:

It’s important to identify the cause of damage before estimating the liability against the responsible person. Accidental damage can include but is not limited to such as a broken window or spilled drink on the carpet. It’s important to note that minor wear or tear does not come under any damage.


Intentional damage holds profound implications legally. It could be minor such as punching a wall or very serious, for example, setting a property on fire. The extent of damage matters for the offender’s punishment, but the scale of risk involved can also be a key factor for determining the charges in the legal proceedings.


Legal Implications of Damaging the Property:

The consequences of facing the legal implications depend on the type of damage and severity. If the damage was intentional, the person may get criminal charges, jail time, fines, and compensation costs for repair. If it was accidental, the individual still must face the repair costs minus the criminal charges. 


Types of charges against property damages:

The severity of damages falls into two categories; misdemeanor and felony. 


If the damage is mild for example, a broken window may be charged as a misdemeanor.

Accidental split on carpets.

The intentional and high-severity damage, such as setting a house on fire, comes under serious felony. This offense can get the person a penalty of 1 to 15 years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.


The main difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is that during the act of damage, if no threat was intended to cause human life, then it’s a misdemeanor; otherwise, it’ll be a felony crime.


In conclusion, rental property damage carries legal implications that vary based on the nature and severity of the harm. Landlords and tenants must understand their responsibilities and rights, as well as to maintain documentation to support their claims, ensuring fair outcomes in legal proceedings. However, you can always find help through Maus Law’s attorney and figure out the solution to any unforeseen situation related to property damage. Just contact us right away and get your legal issue sorted out!


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