A Hoppers Crossing landlord has been left with a $40,000 damage bill and no explanation after his tenant destroyed his rental and disappeared.

Peter Papas had privately rented out the four-bedroom Hoppers Crossing house to a mother with five children.

The rent was often late, but the tenant was respectful enough that he let that slide every time, Mr Papas said.

“Her rent would get behind but she’d come up good and she’d pay more than her usual rent,” he said.

Eventually, the rent stopped coming.

When his emails went unanswered and the arrears built up, Mr Papas went to the Kathleen Crescent property.

“When I went down, she was just gone,” he said. “The carpets have been ripped off, the walls have been bashed in. It’ll need a repair and paint job and a re-carpet.

“I was shocked – I didn’t think she’d be like that.”

Some doors were missing from wardrobes and doorways. The remaining doors were missing handles. Windows were broken and blinds and curtains missing.

Terri Scheer Insurance executive manager Carolyn Parrella said taking on a tenant privately could lead to a bad time for landlords.

“It can be riskier,” she said. “Being aware of the Tenancies Act and your obligations is important. Keep in touch with the tenant and keep on top of rent arrears.”

Ms Parrella said malicious damage was one of the more common claims Terri Scheer dealt with. “Loss of rent is the most common claim we have,” she said. “Very often, you get a malicious damage with a loss of rent claim.

“If things are going wrong, there can be malicious damage done to the property.”

The first sign of trouble for Mr Papas was when he dropped by for a visit when he was in the neighbourhood. Because he hadn’t provided notice, he couldn’t inspect the property – but something seemed not quite right.

“Every time I’d go to make an appointment [for a full inspection], she’d make some kind
of excuse,” he said. “I was too bloody nice to her.”

Insurance agents estimated there had been about $40,000 of damage done to the house. Mr Papas said he expected to receive compensation for most of it.

He said he was unsure what prompted the damage and disappearance.

“I have no idea what she’s done with the carpets and the door handles,” he said. “But if you’re going to get some a…hole who’ll rent it and abuse it, you will.”

However, the episode has put him off privately leasing for good.

“We’ve got a few properties now and they’re all managed by agents,” he said.

“I don’t have anything to do with tenants any more.”

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