My tenant is moving out this month and she is claiming that we have to give her a cashiers check for the security deposit and the pet deposit right away after the walk through or else she will go to court.
I know we have upto 21 days to refund the money but what is the procedure as we wont know right away what the condition is by just doing a visual inspection while they are they standing there. How should we handle this. This is my frst time dealing with a tenant leaving and she is leaving as she has been nothing by headache with exteremely ridiculous demands. The property is in California.
What are some of the top things to watch for after she vacates. Should we bring in carpet cleaners and deduct that from the deposit if the place is in a condition bad that what it was when she rented mainly because she has 2 dogs. She has lived there for 1 year exactly.
What should i tell her as she is expecting the cashier check but I would think I need to evaluate after she leaves rather than doing on the spot.
As far as the return of their deposit that can vary from state to state and city to city. That is something you need to be aware of prior to rental and inform your tennent at the time of move in. Same with your dog issues. Make some rules....inform them of the rules before they move in so they know what to expect. No one likes suprises at the last min when they are moving. Myself, I let them know if the house looks and smells the exact same as it did the day they moved in they get their deposit back. In as much of on the spot no...it takes me a few hours to go thru everything. I just have them let me know when they are out and gone. I have them leave the keys on the counter and lock the door. I then come in and inspect. Thats my system.
Video with tenant. Turn on faucets, dishwasher, stove, etc. Open windows, check screens. Ask tenant what was done prior to moving (on camera), carpets professionally cleaned? Cleaning service? Paint touch ups? Receipts? Know you local law on deposits and don't be bullied. Video is your friend.
Don't get bullied in this situation. Check the local law and see how long you really have. Think about this on the surface level.... Let's say the moveout was on a Sunday right... and she says you would have to have a cashier's check right then and there... you get those checks from banks right? Most aren't open Sunday and would you then go and get the full security deposit for the cashier's check and assume nothing was wrong at the house?
Ask the tenant this and call her on the bs. You likely have 30 days to 60 days to mail whatever check you want to her, if there isn't any damage. You need plenty of time to fully evaluate the damages there and then seek bids/handymen to repair damages. Could you honestly assess a bunch of holes in the wall, broken light fixture, and other stuff on the spot? Pros and experience people could, but I'm sure the law factors in that average home controllers can't and need time to get quotes. Consider that.
In Washington state we have 14 days and we can refund with personal check. Check your local tenant landlord law.
Walk through with her if she wants, point out any obvious issues, tell her it will take more time to take a closer look.
We require a receipt for professional carpet cleaning or we charge them for it, but it is in the agreement that way. Agree the smell and look test is best. Smell the carpet, especially if small dogs.
Figure out what you can do to better weed out high maintenance tenants, annoying is not a protected class.
Tell her not to threaten you with a good time in regards to that whole going to court thing. Chances are once she sees how much money it'll cost she'll be singing a different tune.
Now as far as your rights as a landlord and hers as the tenant, here are a couple tidbits from the California Department of Consumer Affairs website (http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/sec-deposit.shtml):
"California law specifically allows the landlord to use a tenant's security deposit for four purposes:
- For unpaid rent;
- For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in;
- For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant's guests; and
- If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear."
The CDCA goes on to mention this other tidbit that will support your case should she decide to continue her attempted bullying:
"Under California law, 21 calendar days or less after you move, your landlord must either:
- Send you a full refund of your security deposit, or
- Mail or personally deliver to you an itemized statement that lists the amounts of any deductions from your security deposit and the reasons for the deductions, together with a refund of any amounts not deducted."
Print that out and hand her a copy then tell her she'll have her security deposit within the next 21 days minus any deductions for damages to your unit. Make sure to do it with a Kool-Aid smile on your face as well!
Your goal is to get the tenant to do as much clean up as possible so you don't have to.
Buy the Nolo California Landlord's guide:
You should have a document signed by the tenant listing the condition of the apartment upon move in. If you don't, have one next time.
Yes, I would take carpet cleaning fees out of a pet deposit. 'My next tenant deserves to rent the unit in the same great condition in which you received it.'
Try to defuse the situation a little bit by committing to having the net security deposit back in 21 days according to California law. For a lot of tenants that deposit could be their only 'savings.' Be calm, smile.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!
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