Earlier this week, with just a month left on his six-month tour of South America, Zachary Nenson received a call that forced him to cut his trip short. His home in Regina had been trashed by his tenants.

“(My mom) just texted me and said, ‘Your house is destroyed. Phone me.’ So, I didn’t know the extent of it,” said Nenson.

“I got on the phone with her and she was devastated. She said every floor was wrecked, every wall, every bathroom.”

Before renting out his home, Nenson said he called the tenants’ references, and everything checked out. His mom managed the property while he was away. After the tenants failed to pay rent this month, she went to the house and discovered the mess, and the tenants nowhere to be found.

“Its $40,000 (in damage) with all the flooring, the bathrooms, the walls, the paint (and) new appliances,” said Nenson.

Nenson contacted police, who say they are investigating the damage. But, Nenson was told it is unlikely police will be able to press charges because no one witnessed the renters cause the damage.

Insurance won’t cover the cost of the damage because it was caused by someone living in the home. In cases of vandalism, insurance will only cover damage on rental properties if it’s caused by a stranger.

“In most insurance markets, if not all, that any tenant caused damage is an exclusion,” said Kenn Domm of Knight Archer Insurance.

Domm recommends landlords notify their insurance broker of any occupancy changes, to ensure they have the right coverage. But actually preventing tenant damage can be difficult.

“I know landlords that will periodically do smoke detector test to ensure that the property is maintained,” said Domm.

Nenson now plans to contact the Office of Residential Tenancies for help. In the meantime, his family has started a GoFundMe page to help cover costs. Nenson's hope is that this serves as a warning to other landlords.

“If you are renting out your house, do every background check possible, do criminal record checks, phone references, phone jobs,” said Nenson.

“Hopefully, it doesn't happen to anyone else.”