Security claim - how much is reasonable

10 Replies

Hello, 

Can I ask for expert advice on this security claim that I'm considering.

I had a property in S. Florida that came out of rental after 3 years. The house had brand new paint and every thing was functional and very clean at the time of rental. As tenant moved out, I noticed following issue for which I am planning for claim. However, I am not sure how much claim will be reasonable for both me and tenant.

-Tenant left a big fish pond, big garden pavers,  and some personal belongings, old vacuum cleaners, cloth baskets, etc.      Claim Estimate: $100 for haul away / cleanup.

- Found Kitchen faucet leaking (looks like it's been leaking for several months; and tenant never informed me) and kitchen was dropping by about inch down from granite and water leaking. Water leak had caused the bad mold under sink and couple of base cabinets and doors needs to be changed as well as mold treatment is needed. Mold guy alone gave me estimate for about $1500+ and I am expecting about $800 to $1000 for new faucet, cabinet base and cabinets replacement / paint. If I work with Handyman, I might be able to get this done in about $1200 to $1500 fixed with new faucet.        Claim Estimate: $1500

- One closet shelf broken from wall, one shelf missing from a closet and one sliding screen door net torn and out of window sitting in the garage.   Claim Estimate:   $100

- Left pictures, nails, curtain rods and some areas very bad paint. Also fans were full of dirt (looks like they did not really changed AC filters much).  And  master shower was full of bad grime.  I had to re-paint and get professionally clean.        Claim Estimate: $200 (about10% of paint + cleaning estimated charges)

- Few light bulbs missing, one fire alarm not functional (battery popped out), no AC filter at move out.    Claim Estimate:$30

I had old carpet that is totally gutted and messed up with dogs hair. But I'm not charging as carpet was old. I am replacing a new carpet.

I do not have whole lot of pictures from Move-In; but I do have pictures of damages or issues listed above after Move out. In Move-In form none of above issues were reported or listed. Overall I don't have any complain from tenants except that they miss reported number of adults and pets in their application + they did not return the property in condition they were given or as they were asked ( via Move out checklist guidelines). I might be doing some of fixes myself so actual cost may be less for some of the claims.

Would you consider above reasonable? Or should I adjust up / down?

TIA.

Take away your charges for painting and cleaning and you should be good.

Have everything done by a professional and get paper invoices. Don't do it yourself, and don't help to try and make it cheaper. You will not be compensated for your time and labor if it goes to a judge.

Make sure you comply with FL Statute 83 Landlord-Tenant law.
Deduct for expenses for anything broken, etc.
If you have a cleaning charge, deduct.
You cannot deduct for normal wear and tear.
As to the leaking faucet, that might be a touchy situation. It sounds like maintenance inspections were not done. Deducting to replace an entire cabinet may not fly.
Batteries, light bulbs may or may not be deductible. It sounds like you are knit-picking on these issues unless your lease states the tenant is responsible.
Does your lease require tenants to patch and paint holes made by them hanging pictures, etc? Those may be considered reasonable wear and tear unless you have that specifically mentioned in your lease.
Download Chapter 83 for future reference.
Send your notice as required by law. If you fail to timely give notice, you must give every dime of security deposit back regardless of condition of unit. 
Remember, if you end up in court, you want every claim, etc to look reasonable to a judge. 

You may charge only for actual contractor fees to do the work. Any time you spend doing work can not be passed along to tenant, only material costs.

Charge for cost to clean up and remove all junk. Actual contractor fee.

Damage from faucet leak.....Had you done regular inspections you would have found this and corrected before damage was caused. Not likely a tenant responsibility and likely will be denied....landlord negligence.

Contractor cost to repair shelving and screens.

Paint , fans, fire alarm, filter not tenant responsibility.

Summery: Clean up costs, shelf and screen repair  are tenant responsibility. The rest is normal ware and tear or landlord negligence regarding management of property.

Is the security deposit housed in a FL financial institution as required by law? Did you give the tenant notice within 30 days of where it is housed as required by law? Is it segregated as required by law?
Here is the notice that MUST be sent within 30 days:
Security Deposit Notice

To: Former tenant

This is a notice of my intention to impose a claim for damages in the amount of $xxx upon your security deposit, due to damages including the following:
1.broken blind in bedroom $200
2. Broken door knob on master bedroom door $30
3. Broken toilet seat had to be replaced 48.74
4. Broken busted out screens on lanai $225.00
This resulted in total charges of $xxx against your security deposit. It is sent to you as required by s. 83.49(3), Florida Statutes. You are hereby notified that you must object in writing to this deduction from your security deposit within 15 days from the time you receive this notice or I will be authorized to deduct my claim from your security deposit. Your objection must be sent to Mr Wonderful Landlord, 111 Gold Paved Avenue, Naples, FL.

Here is my recent post regarding handling of security deposits:
https://www.biggerpockets.com/forums/52/topics/474340-dear-fl-tenant-i-intend-to-impose-a-claim-on-your-security-depos

Here is some more information to answer questions:

1. Deposit was FL institution. It was personal checking account, but not a dedicated account for security/rental matters (so was co-mingled).

2. I'm in 15 days window, so will be sending notices per laws.

3. I was at property around 7 months ago and there was no sign of leak. Also house was over stuffed. Even according to them, due to lot of items in sink cabinets, they did not notice mold / damage until they removed items from cabinets for moving out.

One additional claim item... ; House is now infested with roaches and I will have to call in Truly Nolen for treatment. Is this cost claimable? We never had this issue before.

Nearly everything you cite, as "damages" are overreaching, typically frivolous claims against the security deposit.

"Landlord may not collect for carpet cleaning, general cleaning of the house and driveway/patio, or painting, as those expenses are in the nature of ordinary wear and tear which are the responsibility of the landlord. Additionally landlord may not deduct from tenant’s security deposit damage caused by landlord’s failure to repair plumbing leak. BURLEY v. MATEO, Court, 17th Judicial Circuit in and for Broward County. Case No. 10-17638 COWE, Division 81. March 2, 2011. Jane D. Fishman, Judge. 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 624a."

Originally posted by @Shahid Iqbal :

Here is some more information to answer questions:

1. Deposit was FL institution. It was personal checking account, but not a dedicated account for security/rental matters (so was co-mingled).

 WHOA! Did you guys read that?! This landlord is all kinds of jacked up. He must suffer from the common BP landlord literacy disability I hear so much about. The plain language for the responsibilities of the security deposit was in the FIRST 3 lines of the statute! At this point, it doesn't matter if he moved the money. This tenant sues, conducts discovery, and has a smoking claim for conversion. In FL that's 3x the amount.

Originally posted by @Shahid Iqbal :

@Brooklyn... I did not use tenant funds; it was that my account had my other funds that I used at times.

The tenant can reasonably advance the theory based on it not just being a contract violation of 83.49. We find here that a tort can arise from a contract violation. The 2 are not mutually exclusive. I won't go any further.

If I read this correctly you are co-mingling personal funds with THE TENANTS money. Violation! If you intend to landlord in any state, KNOW their laws and follow them. IF you end up in court, the last thing you want is the judge to be biased due to improper actions by you.