As we are growing our rental business we would like to keep out properties looking nice, clean and kept up.
Do you charge a fee for things like not keeping up with the lawn work or having trash in the yard?
When a tenant moves out do you keep money from their deposit for things like not replacing burnt out light bulbs, not removing screws or nails from the wall?
If you charge fees what kinds of fees and how do you go about it?
Aubrey, before you think "fees," think lease. What does your lease say? What conditions do you have in place regarding lawn work? I personally do not leave the yard maintenance in the hands of tenants; I hire someone to do it and include it in the rent. But if it is an expectation, you need to define what that means/looks like. If your lease contract says to "maintain yard," I can promise you that the tenants' perception of what that is will be different from yours. And, why would there be trash in the yard? That's not acceptable.
I do not charge for tenants to remove nails from the wall...I'm trying to minimize damage and some of these folks aren't real handy. Again, what's in your lease. Changing light bulbs...I don't think that's worth the fight over a security deposit set-off.
Again, look at your lease. In most states, security deposit offsets have to meet a certain standard (one that is customary/documented). I sure do appreciate that you're the type of owner who takes pride in maintaining your properties. Hope this helps...
@Aubrey H. - we provide a listing of charges (includes changing burnt out bulbs) with the lease so that the tenant understands day 1 what it will cost for repair, cleaning or replacement. They sign the list indicating that they understand the charges. It is part of my lease package. This has eliminated all issues with the move out charges at lease end.
In your experience have most people cleaned up or have you had many who just say charge me what you need to and leave stuff?
Also has this helped to cutdown on your turnover time?
We provide a move out checklist. We provide a professional clean house when they move in and they're responsible for returning it the same way. That includes a clean filter, all bulbs working, appliances clean, etc.
That said, I'm realistic. If the place is substantially clean and only needs a quick re-sweep, and maybe there's one dead bulb or something, I generally skip it because it's not substantial. I already assume $50-100 worth of prep costs in between tenants so turnover is already part of my business model. It's less trouble than itemization and the like for very minor stuff.
As for costs while they're in there? We have some specific issues. The city issues cut citations to property owners for grass longer than 12". We warn tenants that if we receive one of these notices they have 48 hours to cut the grass or we will have it cut and bill them for the cut. Trash and slopping up the property is not tolerated in any fashion and is spelled out in the lease. There's nothing to charge them for because if they leave trash everywhere they will be notified to clean it up, and if they don't we will start eviction proceedings.
@Aubrey H. - the tenants do take care of items and it has reduced turnover time. I perform the exit walkthru a day or 2 before lease end giving them a chance to rectify outstanding issues. It has been pretty good but note that some tenants choose to just pay instead of cleaning and repairs. We charge $5 for a lightbulb and they pay.