Security Deposit- do it myself repairs

10 Replies

Hi-

First time tenant turnover for this landlord . . . would like some feedback on security deposit use questions.

We have a lease rider attached with costs spelled out for certain things that need repaired, replaced, or cleaned. In addition, I gave tenant a move-out checklist that was very thorough and included damages that I already knew about. Some of the things he did, others he did not.

As I am itemizing it all out, I am coming up with nearly double his deposit. However, some of the things my husband and I will be fixing ourselves. So our actual out of pocket cost will be parts only. However I think it is reasonable to charge for our time as well, seeing as if we didn't do the repairs, a repairman would charge us for labor. How to document this? As a general question- can you charge for damage without actually fixing it? ie a fee for carpet damage but not replace carpet right now?

Here is a rundown of what I am charging. I would appreciate any input regarding these items:

1) Missing blinds $50 ea

2) Holes busted in doors $200 ea (there are 2 with holes . . . one of them already had one hole in it prior to tenant move-in but he has put additional holes in it)

3) Carpet cleaning. Lease requires tenant to have carpets professionally cleaned which he did and provided me the receipt. However, there were 6 quite noticeable red spots (not to mention the blue spots) still left in the carpet. I had those spot cleaned and they cleaned up nicely. Can I charge for this? In addition there is a sizeable chunk of carpet torn out of one of the stairs. Is this normal wear? Carpet is 6-7 years old.

4) holes in walls: lease rider itemizes this at $75. Tenant did a poor job of patching and painting 2 holes in living room. Upon inspection I found another in living room, one in bathroom, and several small ones in a bedroom. I am waffling between charging $75 once or twice for this damage (that would include patching and painting)

5) Trash removal- tenant left an overflowing city can full of trash plus extra that wouldn't fit in can, including broken window glass. Per rider this is $100

6) two bedroom closet doors were off their track, one with a broken roller.

7) broken sprinkler heads $85 for my service to repair

8) leak in the sink faucet sprayer. Must have been leaking because there was water damage in the cupboard bottom.

9) Kitchen cabinets- one broken hinge. several spots where the refinish (it is like a wrap) was chipped out, another where it is all coming off of door due to baby lock that was rubbing against it. Not sure how to charge for this. Cost of full refinish?

Wow, this is getting long. I appreciate any comments! 

Thanks,

Carrie Westover

If it ever got to court - I imagine that a judge may well set-aside some of those charges.  Carpet especially is always going to be an argument - unless you have many clear and graphic before and after pictures or video.

But if it were me I would write a separate 'invoice' for each item - with it's price.  And then send them in a group by registered mail to the tenant as 'bills - stating that the charges be immediately paid.  All you know you will 'get paid' is the security deposit but you can go as far as you like with the remainder.  I have a bunch of will-never-be-paid liens against former tenants which came about in this exact way. <g>

stephen

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If you hire a repairman to do the repairs, you can charge the entire amount billed from the Handyman to the tenant.  Usually the Handyman (Repairman, individual contractor) will usually include their time, labor, material, etc., in the bill).  However, when a landlord does the work themselves, they can't charge for their time.  The courts feel that is our job as a landlord. (at least that how it has been, unless things have changed) to do repairs after a tenant moves.  They feel we have been paid enough rent throughout the years of a tenants occupancy, and therefore, they've paid their fair share.  (unless you happen to have a Judge who is also a landlord, then they may award you a larger Judgment because most damages (wear and tear) is based on a Judges decision, and not on any written law listing what is considered damages or normal wear and tear)

Carpeting is depreciated per year, so you would need to know the going rate of depreciation per your state laws. 

You should always have receipts whether you do it or a handyman.  Judges want to see proof.  If you do it yourself, you better have receipts.  If a handyman does it, you better have his bill handy.

You have a lot of actual damages that you bring to court, however, better take pictures, hopefully you have before pictures, and documented proof that you have taken care of the repairs.  

Nancy Neville

I never charge for my own time.  That's not likely to hold up in court.  But it may depend on your state.

Cheap blinds are maybe $10, and five minutes to install if you buy the same kind as was there before.  Charge for the actual cost.

If the doors were already damaged, I don't see how you can charge anything to replace them.

Charging anything for six year old carpets would be thrown out here. Anything older than three years and judges consider you've gotten your money's worth.  Even the IRS says they only last five years.  If you're going to have carpets in your rentals, just budget for replacing them on your own dime not more than five years apart.

Charge for the actual costs of wall repairs and repainting.

Charge for the actual cost of trash removal.

Charge for the actual costs of repairs to the closet doors.

Charge for to the costs of sprinkler repairs

Charge for the costs to repair faucet, assuming it was in good condition before they moved in.  Same for the cabinet.

Actual costs to repair cabinets.  Is the finish perfect other than the items you mention?  Or, are these just more bad spots on top of what was already there?


Your checklist is, frankly, gouging.

$50 for missing blinds?!!? Absurd.  

Charging $200 to replace already damaged doors?

Charging anything at all, even a single penny, for 7 year old carpet?  

I'm not going to say a judge here would laugh at you, because that is not true.  He or she would yell at you, and throw out your charges.

Originally posted by @Richard C. :

Your checklist is, frankly, gouging.

$50 for missing blinds?!!? Absurd.  

Charging $200 to replace already damaged doors?

Charging anything at all, even a single penny, for 7 year old carpet?  

I'm not going to say a judge here would laugh at you, because that is not true.  He or she would yell at you, and throw out your charges.

The blinds I bought actually cost about $55 dollars each. And they were the exact kind that were in there. No, they weren't the cheapest, but it did bring it back to the condition that was provided. As I understand it, that is a tenant's responsibility, to leave the unit in the condition that they took possession of it in, minus normal wear and tear.

The cost of these items were given in advance and signed by tenant as part of the lease agreement. Had tenant repaired them himself, he may not have incurred as high a cost, but he chose not to. I agree that I should only charge for the one door that was undamaged when tenant took possession.

carpet- since my lease provides for tenant to be responsible for professional carpet cleaning, next time maybe I will get it cleaned myself after move-out and then charge actual receipts to tenant's deposit. the point of the cleaning is for the carpet to be CLEAN after all.

In our state you can charge costs but not your time even if it is a job that would cost that much from a handyman.   If you do it yourself you eat the labor cost.  I would carefully document every cost.  In addition if the useful life is gone from something it is hard to justify charging even though you had an item and now you don't and have to replace it. I assume it won't hold up.  Your cleaning of carpet may stand up if you have pictures showing the stains were there and removed. It is unlikely that some of the costs like $75/hole will hold up.  For a door with two holes isn't it  < $200 to replace, I am figuring it is a hollow door but maybe not.  It is best to have pictures and be very concrete and specific about what is damaged and what is charged.  If you have a long blind that cost $50 then specify that specifically-60 inch blind or something along those lines. If it is 5 years old that also won't hold up. Be reasonable.  As for your labor check your state but i doubt you can charge for it. Good luck. 

Originally posted by @Colleen F. :

In our state you can charge costs but not your time even if it is a job that would cost that much from a handyman.   If you do it yourself you eat the labor cost.  I would carefully document every cost.  In addition if the useful life is gone from something it is hard to justify charging even though you had an item and now you don't and have to replace it. I assume it won't hold up.  Your cleaning of carpet may stand up if you have pictures showing the stains were there and removed. It is unlikely that some of the costs like $75/hole will hold up.  For a door with two holes isn't it  < $200 to replace, I am figuring it is a hollow door but maybe not.  It is best to have pictures and be very concrete and specific about what is damaged and what is charged.  If you have a long blind that cost $50 then specify that specifically-60 inch blind or something along those lines. If it is 5 years old that also won't hold up. Be reasonable.  As for your labor check your state but i doubt you can charge for it. Good luck. 

 I actually got an estimate for the door replacement. It is a hollow door and if I could buy it off the shelf and install myself, it would cost just $46. But It has to be special ordered due to its size, then notched for hinges, then painted. With installation the entire thing would cost me $240.

For the door unless the width is really strange if you replace it with solid you can cut the length to size.  The habitat restore is a good  source if you decide to go solid. Maybe not this door but for sure check it out for replacements if there is one in your area.  Not saying you should not do what you need to do with the replacement but finding ways to do things more cost effectively is going to save you with the turnovers. Hopefully they then could not put another hole in it too. It is aggravating when you get a place back and people break things but it happens.

Is there a way to take care of the damage that would be less than or only slightly more than the security deposit?

You probably can't include the carpet(due to age) or the already damaged door.  Going solid for the doors might be a good idea, even if it is more expensive.

Since chances are you will only get the security deposit back, I would try to keep the costs around that level if possible.

In most states, it is not legal to charge the tenant if carpets really not professionally cleaned on moveout. You can put it in your lease that it is required but that doesn't make it legal. Probably adjust our expectations and study up n your state laws regarding he's things. Additionally look for lower cost products to use o you really not out money when you have a destructive tenant.

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