Tenant moved out - things that are chargable?

13 Replies

I had a tenant for 5.5 years who just moved out, and it is my first time turning over a property. I spent several days repainting (lots of holes, marks, etc), cleaning, steam cleaning the carpet - am not planning on charging since this fits in with 'wear and tear', sanding out all of the writing her boyfriend's kids did on the cedar walls in the living room. I also placed craigslist "free" ads for items that she left - 24 containers of flooring adhesive, 10 rolls of carpet & padding remnants - and don't plan on charging for my time to deal with the ads and the people.

Things I am planning on charging her for are the supplies for a broken ceiling light, 2 missing smoke detectors, missing window screen, ruined screen door, hazmat disposal facility fee, landfill truckload of garbage fee.

One of the bedroom doorknobs was in 2 pcs - is this wear and tear on an older house?

Two exterior doorknobs have huge dents and are misshapen from her dog - they technically work, but look like cr*p. If I replace them, they will be on different keys unless I pay to have them re-keyed.

She replaced the front door locks after her roommate died, and changed another 2 locks due to dog destroying the doorknobs. When they moved in there were 4 exterior locks on one key - now they are 4 on 4 keys. Can I charge her the re-keying cost?

Thanks for any advice! I read through a lot of the older threads on turning over rentals, but am looking for a bit of reassurance before presenting the tenant with the final bill & the remains of her damage deposit.


I would not sweat any of the above listed items. If someone was with us for five years and was decent and always paid and was reasonable with us than I would not worry too much about those things you listed. Some of those things I would replace anyway like an occasional light fixture etc as part of my "upgrade". My bottom line if they helped me making my money with no hassle no problems for me than I let it go.

Now if it was a 12 months lease than I would obviously charge them for all items exempt the paint job.

Good luck to you!

I would just remove the screen door and not supply new one. I did supply them for a few years but they are just money pit and extra work for you with no real benefit to the tenants.

Have you done any inspections during this tenancy? After 5 years its certain things I would expect to change/repair/upgrade. What ever you decide to charge the tenant for, I suggest you document it clearly and send them an invoice explaining all the deductions and the cost of repair including materials and labor and keep a copy for yourself. Take a few pictures for your records prior to replacing/upgrading in case this doesn't go over well with the tenant.

Most of the items you mentioned are missing items or damages, not ordinary wear and tear. Don't sell yourself short. Charge for both materials and labor. During the course of a tenancy it is best to do periodic inspections and charge for damages along the way, instead of waiting for move out.

My primary home is 28 years old. No writing on cedar walls, no broken ceiling lights, no missing window screens, no missing smoke detectors, no ruined screen doors, no door handles beat up by dogs....

However, keep in mind the normal lifespan of certain things. For example the Fire Marshal recommends replacing smoke detectors every ten years. Do you know the age of the missing smoke detectors? If over ten years, don't charge for them. If less than ten years, you would be justified in charging the remaining value. We keep a log book with the date of manufacture and the date put in service for items such as smoke detectors, appliances and toilets.

One of my favorite tools for estimating the cost of items commonly found in an apartment/house is the HD Supply catalogue. If I must replace something prematurely because of a tenant's actions, I use that catalogue to estimate value or I use the actual cost if I am able to get the work done before my final report on deposits is due. Don't forget to put a value on your time and expertise too.

We did inspections when we were turning on and draining the sprinkler system - so twice a year - but evidently she just didn't give a darn about anything towards the end. There was nothing to show the bf & kids were either staying over a lot or moved in (except for the damage to walls in the finished basement). Her response when I asked when she was clearing out the shed in back (10x15, half filled with junk) or the shelves full of automotive fluids and junk outside the garage was to say that the new tenants could just put their things around what she was leaving.

I admit I am more interested in charging for things because we lowered rent for her after her partner died (I know - mistake), and then suddenly there are over $300 in repair supplies (not labor, or the abundance of needed cleaning supplies) on things that I wouldn't have expected to have to replace after a few years. And the lease is clear on repairs/property condition expectations.

The house was a foreclosure in bad shape when we got it, so pretty much everything was refinished/new (smoke detectors included.)

I have receipts for all the supplies and an itemized list of issues with the house, so I can show her what I did not charge her for (eg 2 broken inexpensive window blinds that probably don't have a huge lifespan, 6 days of our labor) vs the durable items that I am planning on.

What you want to charge her for sounds like how I would handle it .

I agree with @Matthew Paul --charges sound fair enough. But just make sure you document! Take lots of pictures -- really good ones. why the heck would new-ish smoke detectors be removed? People are crazy!

Paint that is 5+ years old is wear-and-tear, not damage. A ceiling light is on the ceiling. If it falls and breaks, wear and tear, not damage.

I would charge for the clean-up/dump fees though.

I am not planning on charging her for paint, carpet cleaning & stain removal, cleaning the whole house, picking up dog waste and garbage outside, those types of things. Also not charging her for the 2 hours it took to sand down and re-treat the cedar walls where the teenagers were writing on it with marker and ballpoint pens, or sanding the wall where they had made a booger collection (art installation? yikes). No labor at all even though the lease states that she needs to leave the property in the same condition it was in when she moved in. When I was part owner in a coffee shop, I was told by an accountant that my time is not deductible.

I figure the old doorknob that was broken in 2, or the 2 window blinds that were broken, those types of things are wear and tear.

The light was put in new 5 years ago, and they took it down. Same with the new smoke detectors and one of the window screens - they removed them entirely (she said she didn't go in the basement and didn't know what her boyfriend's kids were doing after she had let them move in, which was in violation of her lease).

When the dishwasher or disposal broke she would call me and let me know, she never did with these things. They were just missing.

Would it change from wear and tear to a chargable item in your opinion when they actually remove something? (Not being snarky here - honestly wanting your opinion.)

Thanks.

Originally posted by @S Harper :
I am not planning on charging her for paint, carpet cleaning & stain removal, cleaning the whole house, picking up dog waste and garbage outside, those types of things. Also not charging her for the 2 hours it took to sand down and re-treat the cedar walls where the teenagers were writing on it with marker and ballpoint pens, or sanding the wall where they had made a booger collection (art installation? yikes). No labor at all even though the lease states that she needs to leave the property in the same condition it was in when she moved in. When I was part owner in a coffee shop, I was told by an accountant that my time is not deductible.
I figure the old doorknob that was broken in 2, or the 2 window blinds that were broken, those types of things are wear and tear.

The light was put in new 5 years ago, and they took it down. Same with the new smoke detectors and one of the window screens - they removed them entirely (she said she didn't go in the basement and didn't know what her boyfriend's kids were doing after she had let them move in, which was in violation of her lease).

When the dishwasher or disposal broke she would call me and let me know, she never did with these things. They were just missing.

Would it change from wear and tear to a chargable item in your opinion when they actually remove something? (Not being snarky here - honestly wanting your opinion.)

Thanks.

Your assessment sounds very fair. I would follow what @Marcia Maynard says to the T. Hands down she has the most efficient approach to landlording (imo), and I am in the process of crafting a lease to model her system.

@S Harper

A lot of things you are doing could probably be charged for. We have our rentals professionally cleaned when we put them into operation and we expect the tenants to return them to us in the same condition, minus any normal wear and tear. Any damage, any pencil, pen marks left, any uncleaned appliances or carpets, we would charge for. You shouldn't run a rental business like a hotel/motel, sending in maids to clean rooms without charging. As @Marcia Maynard said, you should inspect and correct problems as they occur and charge the tenant accordingly. This makes turnover much easier instead of letting things pile up at the end. When we hear a tenant is moving out, we immediately send them a move-out package explaining the process of what we expect them to do to return the rental to us in move-in condition, minus any normal wear and tear. We include their move-in inspection report for them to refer to so they can be reminded of what the condition was when they moved in.

@S Harper ...I had a similar case with a long term tenant who was great!!! I only charged carpet cleaning and took from the deposit. I didn't want to nickel and dime her for normal w/tear..She moved to a family house that didn't work out..Guess who she called? Yes, she called back. Hopefully, I can get her back in soon!!!..

Marcia is right. You should charge for all of those items, except paint. They wrote on walls, removed things and broke things. Charge for all of that, including your time. I just hate it when a tenant leaves a bunch of their crap at the house. They just don't care that someone else now has to deal with it. I would not let her off the hook for any of it. Whatever it costs to get the house back in the same shape it was when she left, charge her for it, except obvious wear and tear.