Pain in the ass tenants question / advice

8 Replies

I am a landlord in CA and have tenants who moved out July 1st.  Following the walkthrough the kitchen sink faucet was noticed to be leaking beyond repair (unreported). The next day, a plumber installed and had to access underneath the sink. There were two square titles that were damp and covering a basketball size hole in the shelving from continuous water damage (unreported).  I still have their deposit because I couldn't find someone to give me a price to repair.  I have 21 days from move out.   For the time line purposes question #2.... The tenants bought a freakin home about 10 houses down. They had left their trampoline and kids toys and other junk and on July1st when the moved out, they told me they would be right back to get the rest of their junk. We since had new tenants that moved in and were being reasonable as the old tenants never came back to get their junk. 11 days of excuses.  I hired someone because I live 2 hours away who carried their junk and dropped it in front of their home. That was on the 7-11-18.  Can I count the 21 days from that point until giving them the deposit? Advice, please ? Yes I know it's the 22nd and don't want to hear about it. I been trying to understand how much the repair for under the sink will be and been flaked on twice now so trying to get some extra time.  Please help, thank you. 

You really need to read the exact wording of the property code in CA. This all only matters if they take you to court over it anyway. Once it gets to the courts you are at the mercy of the judge. If the language of the law is clear and there is no getting around the 21 day rule then you are already boned so why stress out? Just make sure you don't get that far.

My advice would be to just get the sink repaired then send them a letter with the deductions for the sink/cabinet repair and moving their junk with a check for the remainder. Then hope they don't pitch a fit and try to take you to court. 

If you are really worried about them suing you for the whole deposit then just give it back to them and write off all the repairs as you would anyway. How much is your peace of mind worth? 

I would have installed a new piece of plywood and vinyled it over at the sink base in the time it took to ask the question.  An unreported leak under a sink, while unfortunate, is a very gray area as to whether it is their fault or not.   Always have vinyl under sinks and dishwashers.

I would let that lie and refund all the deposit I could, minus the stuff hauling.  Petty withholds in the deposit world will bite you.  For me, the tie+ always goes to the tenant.  I've received deals down the road by treating tenants well.

People won't remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  A quote I try to live by in the landlord world.  I've lost tenant friends over $25 early on.

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :

I would have installed a new piece of plywood and vinyled it over at the sink base in the time it took to ask the question.  An unreported leak under a sink, while unfortunate, is a very gray area as to whether it is their fault or not.   Always have vinyl under sinks and dishwashers.

I would let that lie and refund all the deposit I could, minus the stuff hauling.  Petty withholds in the deposit world will bite you.  For me, the tie+ always goes to the tenant.  I've received deals down the road by treating tenants well.

People won't remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  A quote I try to live by in the landlord world.  I've lost tenant friends over $25 early on.

 the ONLY time I have been sued in the landlord game was over deposits.. LOL.. 

@Bryan Findlay   In California, the law (Civil Code 1950.5) says you have "21 calendar days after the tenant has vacated the premises" to return the security deposit (or provide an itemized statement accounting for deductions if you're keeping it).  So in your case it's 21 days from 7-1-18.

In the future, if you're not able to have the work done before the 21 day deadline, the law does allow you to use a "good faith estimate of the charges that will be incurred" and provide that estimate with the itemized statement. 

Lastly, courts have ruled that if the landlord fails to return the deposit and/or an itemized statement within the required 21 days, then the landlord forfeits the right to deduct anything and must return the entire security deposit. Additionally, if the tenant sues and the judge finds that the landlord withheld the security deposit in "bad faith", then the judge can award damages to the tenant up to twice the amount of the original deposit.   Just FYI.

What Steve said. This is not a "bad tenants" thread. This is an inexperienced-landlord problem. Bryan, this is going to keep happening under your sinks. You need to harden up the rental. You need two or three kitchen faucets ready to go in your garage, and you need to be able to install them yourself instead of paying a plumber $70/hr to cheerfully rip you off.

You live about 2 hours away. How is this your tenants' problem? You seem to honestly expect to go through your landlording career without tenants leaving their junk behind when they leave. Really?

For the fiftieth time in these forums...landlording is a brutal business. Tenants are almost always flakey, or they wouldn't be tenants, they'd be responsible homeowners. They don't tell you when things go wrong because they're sure you'll raise the rent if they do. The sun travels across the sky from east to west. Bears fart in the big woods. Real estate gurus lie when they tell seminar participants that running rentals doesn't have much of a learning curve. These are a few immutable truths of the good earth.

Originally posted by @Steve Vaughan :

I would have installed a new piece of plywood and vinyled it over at the sink base in the time it took to ask the question.  An unreported leak under a sink, while unfortunate, is a very gray area as to whether it is their fault or not.   Always have vinyl under sinks and dishwashers.

I would let that lie and refund all the deposit I could, minus the stuff hauling.  Petty withholds in the deposit world will bite you.  For me, the tie+ always goes to the tenant.  I've received deals down the road by treating tenants we

People won't remember what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel.  A quote I try to live by in the landlord world.  I've lost tenant friends over $25 early on.

THIS is exactly right IMO 

I do semi-annual safety inspections (written in lease) in every unit.  One of things I check is every plumbing fixture for leaks.  Even though I have an item in my lease that requires tenants to immediately report any plumbing leaks, most wouldn't notice (or bother) until the damage has long since  been done.  It's my investment, so I'm going to protect it by putting my own eyes on it a few times per year.  I think it's a better business practice for me to find and repair small leaks myself, rather than jousting in court over who's responsible for the damage the big leak caused.