Possible illegal terms in rental lease

7 Replies

I am on the opposite side of the court with this question. I am asking as a tenant, not a landlord.

I rent an apartment and was on a 6 month lease that just expired. The landlord gave me a new 3 month lease to sign.

They appear to have used a standard residential tenancy lease but have added some funky clauses under additional terms. One of them states-

"Please note that a $250 fee for painting and $100 for cleaning will be automatically deducted from the deposit".

So in other words, even if you leave the apartment immaculately clean and there is no damage to paint on walls, they're still going to nab you for $350.

As a landlord with many properties, I would never put such a thing into a lease and it seems kind of illegal to me. 

Does anyone know?

'

Everything is negotiable but check on your state laws for deposits. It's not a deposit anymore if fees are automatically coming out.  If you don't like it don't sign it. Since you are already in the apartment with no immediate plans to move they have some leverage on you. Maybe ask about these fees and what has changed from the first lease if they were not included with it. 

I cannot speak to illegality in your state.  I have seen some of these crop up locally for carpet cleaning.  I would assume if it was bargained for and you signed it knowingly it might be hard to beat.  On the other hand I can see some judges saying this is an illegal tax that is not reasonably related to charge.  The paint may have already needed redone before you signed the new lease.  If it was only a 3 month lease claiming it needed repainting seems like extortion.  The argument I would make is that is against public policy, especially if they cannot prove they repaint every apartment between renters.  I would never put a clause like that in one of my leases but I have charged extra for pets and not waited to see if they cause injury.  Good luck.  I hate it when one landlord makes us all look like greedy, sleazy, scrooges.

That would be an illegal clause in my state of Wisconsin and I am quite sure it is also illegal in Florida and all other states. Standard law is that only deductions from the security deposit for damages would be anything beyond normal wear and tear. You should be able to look up Florida state statues on landlord/tenant laws to find the specific statute.  You can definitely request that that clause be removed and I would by showing landlord the statute. The landlord could refuse. You would then have two options in my mind. 1 would  be to insist that the landlord remove the illegal clause and risk having landlord issue a nonrenewal, which i believe is legal in your state as it is i mine (just not renewing). 2. Would be to sign the  lease with the aforementioned illegal clause. Once you decide to move out, give proper notice and inform the landlord that if they deduct any costs from your security deposit that are not legal your will be taking them to court. Most states have a penalty clause that awards the tenant 2-3 times the security deposit amount to the tenant.

Originally posted by @Nat Chan :

I am on the opposite side of the court with this question. I am asking as a tenant, not a landlord.

I rent an apartment and was on a 6 month lease that just expired. The landlord gave me a new 3 month lease to sign.

They appear to have used a standard residential tenancy lease but have added some funky clauses under additional terms. One of them states-

"Please note that a $250 fee for painting and $100 for cleaning will be automatically deducted from the deposit".

So in other words, even if you leave the apartment immaculately clean and there is no damage to paint on walls, they're still going to nab you for $350.

As a landlord with many properties, I would never put such a thing into a lease and it seems kind of illegal to me. 

Does anyone know?

'

Originally posted by @Sebastian Baker :
Originally posted by @Nat Chan:

I am on the opposite side of the court with this question. I am asking as a tenant, not a landlord.

I rent an apartment and was on a 6 month lease that just expired. The landlord gave me a new 3 month lease to sign.

They appear to have used a standard residential tenancy lease but have added some funky clauses under additional terms. One of them states-

"Please note that a $250 fee for painting and $100 for cleaning will be automatically deducted from the deposit".

So in other words, even if you leave the apartment immaculately clean and there is no damage to paint on walls, they're still going to nab you for $350.

As a landlord with many properties, I would never put such a thing into a lease and it seems kind of illegal to me. 

Does anyone know?

'

 Did you have any opinion?

Originally posted by @Nat Chan :
Originally posted by @Sebastian Baker:
Originally posted by @Nat Chan:

I am on the opposite side of the court with this question. I am asking as a tenant, not a landlord.

I rent an apartment and was on a 6 month lease that just expired. The landlord gave me a new 3 month lease to sign.

They appear to have used a standard residential tenancy lease but have added some funky clauses under additional terms. One of them states-

"Please note that a $250 fee for painting and $100 for cleaning will be automatically deducted from the deposit".

So in other words, even if you leave the apartment immaculately clean and there is no damage to paint on walls, they're still going to nab you for $350.

As a landlord with many properties, I would never put such a thing into a lease and it seems kind of illegal to me. 

Does anyone know?

'

 Did you have any opinion?

Looks like my post didn't go through. I'll try again :)

Opinion only Title VI 83.49 appears to have wording making this legal. Unethical, but legal. I remember seeing this"non refundable cleaning fee" start appearing in student housing leases around 2002 when I was college in tallahassee. It quickly caught on and now I would imagine it is the norm around here for student living. It was tendered prior to move in in addition to security deposit though. Since college students(around here) are notorious for destruction of property-this is not scrutinized. I cannot imagine an adult professional being charged this fee though. This smacks of gouging. The previous post might be your best bet, although you will more than likely only be bluffing the pm, as it looks like both parties have agreed on this non fee which will be backed out of security deposit. A quick call to a tenant lawyer will be your best bet. I am not sure if I can post the info here, but feel free to email me for a referral(he is ethical and did not charge for initial consultation). Never ever sign before satisfaction. We have  all done it and it could have been much worse.

Sebastian

I can't speak to legality but, ironically, I have myself rented places in CA, LA, and FL...and the only time I've encountered automatic "cleaning fees" was in FL.

After Hurricane Katrina, I evacuated to Miami for three months and got a short-term rental on a month-to-month basis.  Apparently I didn't read the lease very well, because she took a $150 cleaning fee out of our deposit.  To add insult to injury, I spent 5 hours on my last day in Miami cleaning that place spic and span...baseboards, window sills, everything, the works.  All for nothing.

The other time I was charged a cleaning fee in FL was when I rented a beachfront condo for 3 nights.  It was basically a hotel...but with condos instead of rooms...so it just seemed weird to be charged a cleaning fee.  But I did at least know about it up front.  And the cleaning fee was the same whether a person stayed for one night or 30 nights.  I basically just added the cleaning fee to the total cost when making rate comparisons and it still came out to be a better value overall, so I guess I can't complain.  But the cleaning fee would have made the place insanely expensive if I had only been staying for 1 or 2 nights.       

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