Can I deduct from security deposit for my own labor

9 Replies

Hi, My tenant has moved out and there is a lot of little things that need to be done to ready the place for the new tenant.  Ie replace bulbs, clean, paint, fix broken cabinets, patch holes, repair broken appliances.  If I were to hire someone to do the work then I would deduct some of that labor from the deposit, but what if I did the work myself.  Could I deduct for my own labor?  The rental is in California.

You can but I would be very cautious and conservative. Security deposit disputes is the number one reason landlords are sued. You may want to get some bids to get the property rent ready condition so that you have a baseline to go off of instead of just a best guess. I would suggest next tenant coming up with a sheet of potential costs that the tenant reviews and signs along with the lease agreement. This way the issues are already acknowledged and signed by them. Less problems on the backend 

Here is the document that I use, that all tenants must sign with the lease.  (I apologize for the format; my copy is in columns and it did not transfer very well.)

Move-Out Charge Sheet


Cleaning

Clean refrigerator $25.00

Clean stove top $10.00

Clean oven $30.00

Clean kitchen cabinets $30.00

Clean kitchen floor $25.00

Clean kitchen countertops $15.00

Clean tub/shower surround $30.00

Clean sink $15.00

Clean toilet $20.00

Clean bathroom cabinets & floor $20.00

Window cleaning (per window) $10.00

Vacuum/sweep through dwelling $40.00

Flooring

Repair carpet $85.00

Replace linoleum $6/sq. ft.

Replace floor tile $75.00 ea.

Replace laminate flooring $10/sq. ft.

Walls

Remove/treat mildew (per surface) $15.00

Repair hole in wall $55.00

Repaint (per wall/ceiling) $40.00

Doors

Replace door (interior) $165.00

Replace door (exterior) $485.00

Replace weather stripping $25.00

Electrical

Replace light bulb $3.00

Replace light fixture globe $20.00

Replace light fixture $65.00

Replace electrical outlet/switch $15.00

Replace electrical cover plate $2.00

Plumbing

Replace kitchen faucet $150.00

Replace bathroom faucet $105.00

Replace faucet handle $20.00

Replace faucet aerator $10.50

Replace shower head $27.00

Replace toilet $175.00

Replace toilet seat $25.00

Locks

Replace key (door or mailbox) $10.00

Replace cylindrical door lock $35.00

Replace deadbolt lock $25.00

Windows and Window Coverings

Replace window pane (single) $75.00

Replace window pane (double) $125.00

Replace mini blind $20.00

Rescreen window screen $25.00

Replace window screen and frame $50.00

Miscellaneous

Replace refrigerator shelf $25.00

Replace stove/oven knob $20.00

Replace plastic countertop $275.00

Replace mirror $45.00

Replace medicine cabinet $75.00

Replace towel bar $25.00

Replace shower curtain rod $25.00

Replace shower curtain & rings $13.00

Replace shower/tub enclosure $350.00

Replace thermostat $80.00

Replace fire extinguisher $30.00

Remove junk and debris (per area) $35.00

Replace smoke detector $15.00

Replace combo detector/alarm $40.00

Replace alarm battery (per battery) $2.00

Replace drop ceiling tile $10.00

Replace wireless doorbell $35.00

Replace portable window screen $10.00


Actual charges may vary based on condition and/or vendor bill. In-house costs for repairs & cleaning are billed at $25/hour

plus materials & supplies.


In signing this document I (we) agree upon and accept the above charges upon move-out.


Date Executed: _______________ Date Executed: ________________

Tenant Signature(s): Landlord or Property Manager Signature:

____________________________ __________________________________

@wesley This is great, thanks very much for sharing! I’ll be using this with all new leases moving forward!

Originally posted by @Wesley W. :

Here is the document that I use, that all tenants must sign with the lease.  (I apologize for the format; my copy is in columns and it did not transfer very well.)

Move-Out Charge Sheet


Cleaning

Clean refrigerator $25.00

Clean stove top $10.00

Clean oven $30.00

Clean kitchen cabinets $30.00

Clean kitchen floor $25.00

Clean kitchen countertops $15.00

Clean tub/shower surround $30.00

Clean sink $15.00

Clean toilet $20.00

Clean bathroom cabinets & floor $20.00

Window cleaning (per window) $10.00

Vacuum/sweep through dwelling $40.00

Flooring

Repair carpet $85.00

Replace linoleum $6/sq. ft.

Replace floor tile $75.00 ea.

Replace laminate flooring $10/sq. ft.

Walls

Remove/treat mildew (per surface) $15.00

Repair hole in wall $55.00

Repaint (per wall/ceiling) $40.00

Doors

Replace door (interior) $165.00

Replace door (exterior) $485.00

Replace weather stripping $25.00

Electrical

Replace light bulb $3.00

Replace light fixture globe $20.00

Replace light fixture $65.00

Replace electrical outlet/switch $15.00

Replace electrical cover plate $2.00

Plumbing

Replace kitchen faucet $150.00

Replace bathroom faucet $105.00

Replace faucet handle $20.00

Replace faucet aerator $10.50

Replace shower head $27.00

Replace toilet $175.00

Replace toilet seat $25.00

Locks

Replace key (door or mailbox) $10.00

Replace cylindrical door lock $35.00

Replace deadbolt lock $25.00

Windows and Window Coverings

Replace window pane (single) $75.00

Replace window pane (double) $125.00

Replace mini blind $20.00

Rescreen window screen $25.00

Replace window screen and frame $50.00

Miscellaneous

Replace refrigerator shelf $25.00

Replace stove/oven knob $20.00

Replace plastic countertop $275.00

Replace mirror $45.00

Replace medicine cabinet $75.00

Replace towel bar $25.00

Replace shower curtain rod $25.00

Replace shower curtain & rings $13.00

Replace shower/tub enclosure $350.00

Replace thermostat $80.00

Replace fire extinguisher $30.00

Remove junk and debris (per area) $35.00

Replace smoke detector $15.00

Replace combo detector/alarm $40.00

Replace alarm battery (per battery) $2.00

Replace drop ceiling tile $10.00

Replace wireless doorbell $35.00

Replace portable window screen $10.00


Actual charges may vary based on condition and/or vendor bill. In-house costs for repairs & cleaning are billed at $25/hour

plus materials & supplies.


In signing this document I (we) agree upon and accept the above charges upon move-out.


Date Executed: _______________ Date Executed: ________________

Tenant Signature(s): Landlord or Property Manager Signature:

____________________________ __________________________________

WOW. This is fantastic!

Thank you  

So far the answers given are good and correct.  Once again, I will recommend that you have wording in your lease that specifically states that if you are required to do work to restore the unit to a rent-able condition for items NOT considered to be wear and tear, that you charge  $XYZ per hour for labor and management (which includes time spent scheduling work and finding vendors, procuring materials etc.)  If it is not written in the lease, it is hard to get paid for labor you do yourself.  But you can charge for money spent for replacement items.  I like Wesley's list which can be added as an addendum to the lease itself.

Ultimately man... If the moving tenant is going to be dinged and foot the bill... Why wouldn't you hire it out? Your time is worth more than the hourly rate you would pay a handyman or contractor. 

I would say that I can not imagine 100% that these answers are correct regarding your question.

In many states, you can not deduct from a security deposit for your own labor. It must all be hired out if you want to deduct, and the receipt must be itemized to show exactly what work was done.

You need to check your area's rental laws to truly know the answer. I don't see California being on board with letting you deduct for your own labor.

A person can put whatever they want in a lease, but if it contradicts local laws, then it means nothing.

@Vinson Lee   Since your rental is in California, I'll give you the California-specific answer.  Yes, it is legal to charge for your own labor.  If you want to look up the law that allows you to do it, it's under California Civil Code 1950.5 and it says that landlords can charge a "reasonable hourly rate" for their labor.

So then the question is, what is a "reasonable hourly rate"?  One way to determine that is to ask an experienced landlord-tenant attorney in your area what he/she has seen upheld in court. 

I have previously charged $25/hour for my labor, and was awarded that rate when I had to take the matter to court. However, when I consulted with a very experienced landlord-tenant attorney (who has done literally tens of thousands of eviction lawsuits) in my area on this very issue, and he said I actually could have charged more. 

His suggestion was to get quotes for whatever work you intend to do yourself.  For example, if Merry Maids quotes you $35/hour for cleaning your fridge out and - if you can clean as good as Merry Maids - then he said you can charge $35/hour for that work if you do it yourself. 

I think you get the idea.  You can probably also see that the hourly rate can vary based on the type of work that is being done.

Ultimately, the idea is to charge a "reasonable" hourly rate because if it ends up being contested and going to court you never know what a judge might award you.  But you want to make sure you have a good argument and supporting documentation for why you charged what you did to increase your chances of winning the case.  After all, the law says you're legally entitled to charge for your labor, so you should - in my opinion - if you did the work. 

The alternative is to just hire someone to do the work and bill the tenant for the full amount (materials + labor) since the tenant is the one ultimately paying for it anyway.  Though I understand there may be times when you just want to do the work yourself.  So at least now you know you have options.

Thanks everyone for the very useful info you’ve shared.  The itemization list you have @wesley w. Is great and your explanation @kyle j. Makes complete sense. This gives me more confidence in knowing what I can do. Yes there are just some times that it would be just as much hassle to hire someone to do something than to just do it yourself.  I’ll make sure it’s all very reasonable. I’m not trying to make money this way but actually see it as benefitting both me and my past renter. 

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