Fixture- Who gets to keep what?

8 Replies

In my rental, there's this open loft /room that used to look like this:

office/3rd bedroom photo IMG_2720.jpg

Tenants in the past used that space as another bedroom even though its small and didn't have any closets. But, the biggest hurdle to using it as another bedroom was the lack of privacy.

I didn't give the tenant permission to do this, but the tenant went ahead anyways and permanently attached some curtain rods all over that space to hang some curtains:

Loft space can be used as 3rd bedroom photo newport.jpg

And, the tenant took down the functional blinds in this space and attached curtain rods and curtains to replace those blinds. 

Since those curtain rods are permanently attached to the walls, does means it has been converted to real property and thus part of the property now? From what I can tell, it would be more trouble than its worth to take down those curtain rods because it would leave all these holes in the walls.

And, if I can keep the curtain rods, are there any cases where I can then also keep the curtains too? If I leave those curtain rods in, then it seems like I'd need to have curtains for them but I don't know how easy it'd be to replace those or if the tenant's curtains are standard size or anything.

The tenant's lease is about to expire. If he re-signs, what could I put in the lease to clarify that the rods he installed and the window coverings in this space are now part of the property?

The tenant put in his own window coverings in all the other rooms too, but those rooms already had curtain rods that he piggybacked on so I don't care about the window coverings in any other room. 

If they renew the lease I wouldn't try and include any thing about the curtains.  Remind them of what was in the property & that either they will restore it to its original condition prior to move out, or you will and will deduct the cost of the repairs from the security deposit.  Tenants are free to decorate, but you would like your property back to the way it was before they moved in.  Just my though on the subject.

Agreed above, at least you tenant is somewhat tasteful.  If they are good tenants, which I assume they are because you said you were not sure if they were renewing or not, I would not say much about it - sometimes you have to pick you battles, but at the same time you don't want to create a snow ball effect where you let one thing (like curtain rods) slide, then before you know it they are late on rent. You give them an inch and they take a mile.  I would just mention to them that when they do leave, return to original condition.

I would say restore it to the pre-rental state including blinds or leave the curtain rod but that is me. I would not get into the curtains. They could be $15.00 curtains ,  they could be $50 curtains. some people will leave them anyway ,  some won't .    It's   not something you want to spend energy on is it?

The distinction is made as the to manner in which personal property is attached and the type of property. Curtains and blinds are personal property as well as the hardware. Just because they may be held in place by a small screw doesn't meet the permanent nature or intent of turning personal property into real property. That can be different when you have custom windows, nonstandard openings that require blinds or hardware to be specifically fabricated for a window, in that case window coverings become specific to a feature of the property and can not be replaced by commonly acquired products.

From your pictures I'd say no, they are not real property. The tenant is responsible to generally to keep the property  in like condition as at the time of leasing less normal wear and tear. Judges, from what I heard (I wasn't in the courts) seem to put small nail and screw holes in the normal wear category, such are customary as most everyone uses window coverings. Now, if the screw used was too large and split the trim, that can be damage as the tenant was negligent in using such a large screw.

If woodwork is at a higher end, unusual such as solid milled hardwood, and that is defaced, then that can be damage, your lease should also state more specifically the care expected to such features. The pictures shown don't indicate the higher end quality that would justify claims of damage requiring replacement of window casings or trim, unless it has been split out and won't hold hardware being replaced. 

The tenant should be taking down what they put in and replacing items with the coverings that were installed when they leased. If they do not, then the cost or replacing the coverings would be a reasonable charge, perhaps one hour of labor plus costs of hardware required if they lost it, or the coverings if they don't have them.

Now, if your lease agreement had specified the replacement of window treatments the contract would govern, obviously this matter wasn't addressed.

The same thing applies to light fixtures and ceiling fans. Tenants that change fixtures need to replace the fixture with the original.

An example of something that becomes RE might be a tenant adding hand rails on steps, grab bars in a shower, cabinet hardware or a fireplace mantel. These items are not customarily added, they may cause damage or an unsightly appearance if removed. Under the ADA, tenants with disabilities are entitled to add safety features and are responsible to remove them and put the property back in the original condition. Drilling holes in tile may require the tile to be replaced, a shower enclosure may need to be replaced as holes destroy the functionality of that unit.

Selling RE is another area where the parties may have assumptions of what is attached, window coverings and ceiling fans are seen as personal property under the same views mentioned above, the sale contract should address such items as being included with the property or being reserved and kept by the seller. Such are considered personal property being included with the real property. BTW, I was involved with the sale of a home that had over $20,000 in custom window treatments and fixtures, it was personal property and viewed as a seller concession and most of that value was reduced from the sale price for financing. (Not a big deal in that price range, but the point being, it's personal property.)

Landlords that expect their property to be handed back in identical condition or better aren't facing the reality of the business, part of your rents charged is for repairs and upkeep from normal use that should be expected. Damage is usually viewed as some condition that effects the marketability of the property at the rent levels charged. If others will not rent it due to some matter, then marketability is an issue to make the landlord whole, at that point retaining damage deposits is justified. Filling small holes in walls with putty is not considered damage.    :)

I'd be more concerned with them turning an open loft into a nursery if that's what they did, does that loft have railings, ballisters, steps that meet code? You may be held liable to some extent if you allow a dangerous condition to exist even if it's in connection with the stupidity of a tenant. :) 

Originally posted by @Bill G.:

I'd be more concerned with them turning an open loft into a nursery if that's what they did, does that loft have railings, ballisters, steps that meet code? You may be held liable to some extent if you allow a dangerous condition to exist even if it's in connection with the stupidity of a tenant. :) 

 I was thinking the same thing. Looks like a bedroom with a open staircase. I hope that's not the case.

I looked at a house that someone did that with a bed right next to the staircase. All I could envision was someone half asleep falling down the stairs......I didn't buy the property.

Curtain rods will be the least of your worries.

Originally posted by @Jesse Waters :

If they renew the lease I wouldn't try and include any thing about the curtains.  Remind them of what was in the property & that either they will restore it to its original condition prior to move out, or you will and will deduct the cost of the repairs from the security deposit.  

 But, isn't a bad idea to let the tenant try to restore it to its original condition before they move out because you won't know how good of a job they'll do and they might even make it worse when they try to fix it?

Like I said, it looks fairly complicated to remove all that stuff. To attach some of the curtain rods, they also made to make all these insertions and holes and attachments through the ceiling because there was no wall to hand that rod onto. If they remove the curtains and curtain rods, there's going to be a significant number of holes all over the room to deal with.

My thinking was it would be less of a headache to write it in the lease now to clarify this situation rather than let the tenant do a poor job of fixing it or dealing with security deposit issue if the tenant removed all those curtains and curtain rods when they moved out.

Originally posted by @Josh L. :
Originally posted by @Jesse Waters:

If they renew the lease I wouldn't try and include any thing about the curtains.  Remind them of what was in the property & that either they will restore it to its original condition prior to move out, or you will and will deduct the cost of the repairs from the security deposit.  

 But, isn't a bad idea to let the tenant try to restore it to its original condition before they move out because you won't know how good of a job they'll do and they might even make it worse when they try to fix it?

Like I said, it looks fairly complicated to remove all that stuff. To attach some of the curtain rods, they also made to make all these insertions and holes and attachments through the ceiling because there was no wall to hand that rod onto. If they remove the curtains and curtain rods, there's going to be a significant number of holes all over the room to deal with.

My thinking was it would be less of a headache to write it in the lease now to clarify this situation rather than let the tenant do a poor job of fixing it or dealing with security deposit issue if the tenant removed all those curtains and curtain rods when they moved out.

Sheetrock repairs are not complicated repairs.  When a tenant moves out I typically do through a one-pass sheetrock repair.  Nails holes, screw rips, ceiling, walls, those are fairly standard straight forward repairs.  If you have textured ceilings, wall paper, or custom wood work that's been drilled into or ripped apart, then yes, that may be a concern.  Otherwise I don't even think about charging for these minor things.  Personally I prefer they leave the holes behind, instead of trying to patch anything.

Are these rod brackets mounted to the furring or wood backing or just sheetrock screw anchors?

Join the Largest Real Estate Investing Community

Basic membership is free, forever.