The Mystery of The Mauled Birch Tree

Property Manager with Investors Choice Property Management CAL BRE LIC# 01124954

We have a small Sacramento-based management company serving the greater Sacramento region. I have been a property manager for over 16 years now (I started at 24, and am told 41 is young in property manager years). I love the variation that every day brings. New challenges, new laws to work with every year, it is anything but dull.

I am 3 days away from renting a home near Elk Grove. It has been a trying market out there, but we managed to find a well qualified tenant that is ready to move in. I went to the home yesterday just to check up on things, and what do I find?

Someone has stuffed at least one half of a tree worth of large limbs into our green-waste can. Sounds simple? It's not. The limbs are birch, very distinct, yet not one neighbor has a butchered stump from a birch tree in their yards to speak of. Not only that, we are talking about a neighborhood where the trees are too small to generate limbs the size of which were dumped in our can. The owner does not want to pay the $75-100 hauling fee to remove them. Here is a theory I am looking into:

Our ex-tenant purchased a home about 1/2 a mile south of this rental. I am headed over there tomorrow during my pre-move in walk through to see if they have a mauled Birch tree in their yard. Here's the question for those that like these legal what ifs....if I spy an appropriately sized Birch tree with obvious recent chopping done, then I photograph their tree and the tree limbs left in our can, could I make a convincing argument to charge the cost of removing the branches from their security deposit, even though these "damages" occurred at least 2 weeks after possession was surrendered?

Anyone know the answer? I suspect I do, and the words "circumstantial" and "coincidental" come to mind, but I hate to let something like this go. If harm is done to one of my clients, those responsible should be held accountable. Justice for all, etc. etc.


Investors Choice Property Management (ICPM) manages 110 single-family units with the care and diligence our Landlord clients deserve, in a manner that has them referring their friends, co-workers and family members. With over 16 years professional property management experience, our business is 95% word-of-mouth referral, we do NO Sales, we do NOT markup repairs, and pay among the highest referral fees in the industry for management accounts. Visit our website at today for more details, and find out what we mean when we say: “Experience Property Management the Way it Should Be.”



Comments (3)

Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239
Real Estate One - Commerce, MI
Michigan homes for sale ~

I would take it from their deposit and let them fight it out.  I doubt they would if they were caught

Feb 24, 2009 01:06 PM
Mattie Lane, Property Mgr, Merced

If it is under their 21 day deposit return limit, if it can be shown that they did indeed fill the can with birch, I would deduct it from their deposit. Too many times, departing tenants "stiff" the owner with their own irresponsibility. 


Feb 25, 2009 12:45 AM
Thomas R. Martin Broker/Owner ICPM
Investors Choice Property Management - Sacramento, CA
Property Management the way it SHOULD be.

We went to the tenant's new address yesterday, and guess what we saw? The stump of a recently cut birch tree in their front yard. We photographed it and will be deducting the dumping fees to their already dwindling deposit refund. Some people never learn...

Mar 02, 2009 03:46 AM