Help with first time handling deposit/walkthrough in Texas

2 Replies

We are going to sell a a house we own that we have been renting out for the last three years. The tenants' lease was up Wednesday; they have lived there for one year. The property manager told us they would conduct the final walkthrough and handle the return of the deposit.

On Thursday morning, I went by the house to take a look. The carpet has been ripped down to the pad in four places by a dog. The walls are filthy and filled with screws and nails. The bathtub is stained and very dirty. The grout is stained in the bathtub and shower. There is a room that has been painted (poorly) without permission.

We had painters come around 11 to start working. (We want to get the property on the market quickly.) We called the property manager about another matter and they informed us they hadn't performed the final walkthrough yet because the tenant hadn't returned the keys yet. We told them to get over to the property quickly because the painters were about to start working. They didn't make it over until 3 or 4 p.m.

Today we got an email from the property manager telling us they couldn't perform the final inspection because we had painters working already (they were just filling cracks and nail holes at that time) and we would have to handle it.

We emailed back and said we would need the initial walkthrough checklist and photos of the condition of the property at move-in. We have heard nothing back yet. This PM sucks so I wouldn't be surprised if neither existed.

I don't have any photos from before this set of tenants moved in a year ago. I have just a few photos taken Thursday before the painters came (I didn't take more because I thought the PM was handling it.)

The carpet was installed in 2006, but was in clean, whole condition when these tenants moved in in 2013. Now it is filthy and torn up. The walls were freshly painted and repaired in 2011, and now they are filthy and filled with screws and holes. The bathtub and shower are truly gross and they clearly didn't make any effort to clean them before they left.

What is our responsibility as far as the return of the deposit? Can we charge them for flooring, painting, and cleaning? We are in Texas.

This is what the property looked like before we started leasing it in 2011, and the approximate condition of the property last year (but as I said, I have no photos from right before these tenants moved in).

Here is what these rooms looked like Thursday morning. You can't really see in this photo, but the carpet in the first photo is ripped in several places and unfixable.

Thanks for any input.

Edit: They also kicked in a door that we installed and painted in 2011. Here are photos of the door and tub.

Around here charging tenants for replacing eight year old carpet wouldn't hold up in court, so I wouldn't charge them for that. If the carpet can be cleaned and is good enough for selling, I would charge them for that.

I also would not charge them for repainting the entire house. The room they painted, yes. Touching up the rest of the house, yes, that too.

If its dirty and not up to "broom clean" or whatever your lease says, I'd charge for cleaning.

But, you cannot charge them for everything you have to do to get the property ready to sell. When you rent a property for a while and then sell it you're going to have significant work to do to get it prepped for sale.

I think you jumped the gun having your painters working before the moveout was complete. But hopefully you have pictures and documentation to support whatever charges you're going to make against the deposit. Have you tried calling the PM?

It also sounds like someone dropped the ball on timing of the moveout. Assuming they were supposed to be out on the 30th, I would have expected to have the keys handed over on that day. If not, they're not out and rent for May is due on the 1st.

Jon Holdman, Flying Phoenix LLC

Some more information:

The lease says the tenants must leave the house in the same condition they found it, besides normal wear and tear. There are 1-foot rips in the carpet. They certainly did not find the house that way.

Also -- they had a dog, which is what caused the carpet holes. (It also smells in there, like wet dog. He probably peed on the floor, too.) Re-reading the lease, I see the tenants did not get permission for a dog, notify the PM about the dog, or pay the nonrefundable pet deposit.