Would you withhold security and how much?

11 Replies

Tenant of 2 years moved out and left the place barely broom clean, but with food and dishes in the kitchen cabinets, lot of nail holes in the walls, the floors in dire need of mopping and marks on the walls. They were no trouble otherwise.  I have 2250 security. Just suck it up and count myself lucky for another basically good tenant or take some for the cleanup and touching up?

Originally posted by @Johann Jells :

Tenant of 2 years moved out and left the place barely broom clean, but with food and dishes in the kitchen cabinets, lot of nail holes in the walls, the floors in dire need of mopping and marks on the walls. They were no trouble otherwise.  I have 2250 security. Just suck it up and count myself lucky for another basically good tenant or take some for the cleanup and touching up?

 You consult your move-in checklist or pre move-in photos which should have documented the immaculate condition at move-in, then take plenty photos of the kitchen condition and food still present. Then hire a cleaner to document and clean excessive dirtiness of kitchen and other areas that are not broom clean. This should be approx 150-200 maybe and the max I would deduct from the security deposit (only deduct amount from actual invoice). I dont think you can justify cost to fix nail holes and marks on walls, as thats usually considered normal wear and tear and usual turnover costs include having to touch up and patch nail holes. be sure to include send a letter to tenant with a copy of the expenses and ask cleaner to note excessive dirtiness in kitchen on their invoice along with the remaining balance. Make sure you send the security deposit disposition within the state mandated timeframe so you dont get in trouble with that. Then hire a handyman to touch up paint and then re-list for rent ASAP and get it rented. Painting and any repairs are your normal turnover costs and cost of doing business. vacancy costs money so move on and communicate move-out checklist for tenant/ cleaning expectations better next time. Good luck!

I wouldn't charge for the wall damage, sounds typical, wear and tear.  As far as the cleaning, I would do it all and see how many hours it is.  I figure 2.5 hours of cleaning grace per year of tenancy.  So if it takes more than 5 hours to do the cleaning, charge for that excess.  If you make a dump run for the belongings (doesn't sound like enough), charge the dump fees.  But overall sounds like a good move out, congrats!

@Johann Jells ,

It sounds like a mess, but it doesn't sound like anything I'd take more than $100 for cleaning/dump fees.. as mostly sounds like normal wear/tear.  Grab a red bull, and knock it out, sounds mainly like trash and stuff going into the trash is easy.  

Remember that anything removed from the security deposit you need pictures before/after and proof beyond reasonable wear/tear, so pick your battles.     Touch up paint and nails in the wall sound very normal and expected IMO.

Thanks folks, I guess the answer is suck it up. I guess I'm also annoyed at the MtM move out on Jan 1st. Who does that????  This is a very slow month.

Originally posted by @Johann Jells :

Thanks folks, I guess the answer is suck it up. I guess I'm also annoyed at the MtM move out on Jan 1st. Who does that????  This is a very slow month.

 I don't allow my tenants to go MtM. They sign annual lease 12 month renewals and I adjust the lease length to make sure it ends in the April-July timeframe so that my vacancy is low and I can re-rent during a favorable part of the year. Others proclaim how they can get bad tenants out faster with MtM, but now you are experiencing one of the negative qualities of MtM; you don't control turnover timeframe and, in some markets, it's difficult to rent Dec-feb.

if you do the cleanup yourself you may not be able to deduct for it. Hire a cleaner get a bill pay the bill and deduct for that. Small nail holes in the wall are probably considered normal wear and tear.

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I do only month to month and just take the risk of someone leaving at a bad time.  The reality is that if a tenant wants to leave they will leave and a long lease won't bind them.  Some it will, but if they're determined to leave, they will.

If its not broom clean and they have left trash behind I'd hire cleaners and deduct some portion of the cost of the cleaners.  "Broom clean" is often what's allowed by leases, but is not what new tenants expect.  So, I assume I'm going to spend about $200 for cleaners during a turnover to get the place up to what a new tenant expects.  I would deduct the amount over that.

Holes in wall damage is a little trickier.   If "lots" is a dozen nail holes throughout a house I'd just eat it.  If you're talking dozens and dozens of holes and damage that requires preperation before painting, I'd probably deduct for that.  Again, though, I'd hire someone if it was that bad and deduct based on the bill.  If its minor I'd do it myself and touch up the paint.  I never bill tenants for my own labor, but will bill them for materials if I have to buy something.  For whatever reason, lightbulbs always disappear or are burnt out and screens are always damaged.

Take pictures, and hopefully you have "before" pictures.

Originally posted by @Jon Holdman :

I do only month to month and just take the risk of someone leaving at a bad time.  The reality is that if a tenant wants to leave they will leave and a long lease won't bind them.  Some it will, but if they're determined to leave, they will.

 That has been my POV too, though I start with a year lease and then go MtM. In general tenants have not moved during awful months. I've done the work on the place and am just going to eat the cost. I live in this building and it wasn't that big a deal.

Quick question....Did you collect a separate cleaning fee and/or deposit when the lease started?

If so, you can't deduct anymore for cleaning, just damages (at least that is how a judge would rule it here in AZ).

If you did NOT take a cleaning deposit and/or cleaning fee at the start of the lease, then I would charge a cleaning fee and have a cleaning crew go in there and get it rent ready.

We stopped taking cleaning deposits/fees a few years back after a Tenant challenged it and we went to court.  The judge ruled that because we already collected for cleaning, our ability to collect for anything beyond that was not allowed.  We could (and did) collect for damages though, and were able to recoup that way ("damaged" drip pans that needed replacement instead of cleaning, "Grout repair" instead of mopping, or cleaning grout, etc).

What does your lease say in regards to cleanliness, etc on move out? If you don't have anything, I'd look into putting it in there. 

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