Are these charges the renters responsibility?

16 Replies

So I moved out of a 3 bedroom rental at the beginning of October. I just now got my deposit check back. There are some charges on here that I'm not sure are my responsibility or the owners. I'm about to go discuss the charges tomorrow and don't want to complain about things they have the right to charge me for.

This is the list of things I'm not sure about.

-Installed door plate on master french door (door wasn't broke or anything. Just adding this for looks?)

-re-installed/repaired towel bars and tp holders in bathrooms (these weren't broken or removed. I don't know if the painters took them off or something)

-replaced master shower head, toilet seats, sink, and rebuilt toilet; re-caulked shower (I used my own rainfall type shower head from day one. the other stuff I just don't know if that's my fault or not)

-replaced batteries in smoke and CO alarms

-replaced furnace filter

-replaced back bedroom door knob ( it didn't match the others, and was like that the day I moved in)

Is it not normal to give an itemized list of prices for these various charges? I just got one big invoice from the contractor to the PM that says $730 due. My PM charged me $300 out of that $730 without explaining or showing me what I was actually paying for. So I do believe some of the above charges weren't charged to me, I was just trying to make sure before I go to the office tomorrow that if they were charges to me, if they were legit charges or not. 

Thanks for any input!

I am just a buy and hold landlord. So find my answer below in "my" opinion.

Originally posted by @Tyson Bumgarner :

So I moved out of a 3 bedroom rental at the beginning of October. I just now got my deposit check back. There are some charges on here that I'm not sure are my responsibility or the owners. I'm about to go discuss the charges tomorrow and don't want to complain about things they have the right to charge me for.

This is the list of things I'm not sure about.

-Installed door plate on master french door (door wasn't broke or anything. Just adding this for looks?)

No idea haven't come across this

-re-installed/repaired towel bars and tp holders in bathrooms (these weren't broken or removed. I don't know if the painters took them off or something)

No idea haven't come across this, they were broken by you than yes

-replaced master shower head, toilet seats, sink, and rebuilt toilet; re-caulked shower (I used my own rainfall type shower head from day one. the other stuff I just don't know if that's my fault or not)

Master Shower head yes, if you removed it, the other stuff depending on if you damaged it

-replaced batteries in smoke and CO alarms

typically landlord

-replaced furnace filter

What does the lease says? My tenant is required to change this. 

-replaced back bedroom door knob ( it didn't match the others, and was like that the day I moved in)

Landlords responsibility 

Is it not normal to give an itemized list of prices for these various charges?

I just got one big invoice from the contractor to the PM that says $730 due. My PM charged me $300 out of that $730 without explaining or showing me what I was actually paying for. So I do believe some of the above charges weren't charged to me, I was just trying to make sure before I go to the office tomorrow that if they were charges to me, if they were legit charges or not. 

I would ask them for the itemized list. 

Thanks for any input!

I guess I should add this into my question. 

When I moved out, I had still payed for the whole month of October in order to cover my lease. on the 9th or 10th I had told the PM that she could use her cleaners to finish up the house so they could get it rented. I was mad to believe by her language that she was just having some cleaners some and that they were going to try to get it rented and return some of my rent at a pro-rate. Well, come the 20th, I stopped by the house (i still had the garage opener. It was very had to get a hold of my PM to return it). The house was filled with contractors' stuff from doing repairs and all sorts of other things. 

So my question. Should I expect some sort of kickback from the owner for basically using my rent money as a free block of time to fix the house? I could have gone the other way and told them to stay out until the start of November, but I didn't. They have told me "well, it's still not rented" like that should be some bearing on whether I should be reimbursed for them fixing it on my dime.

What do you think?

Upon move-out a walk-through should of been conducted with the property manager to highlight any damages.  If this was not done, it will be difficult for tenant and landlord to say whose fault what is...  Typically, courts will lean in favor of the tenant (hence the reason landlords should have proper documentation).  As to the charges: itemized list is required.  I would expect the furnace filter is your responsibility, other than that not seeing much based on the info you gave.

If your lease ran until the end of October, I would not expect anything back for that month regardless of your move out date.  As a landlord, I would likely give you some pro-ration for the consideration but it is not mandatory.  The fact that it is not rented only matters if you breached the lease agreement... In which case, the landlord can hold you responsible until a replacement tenant is found OR lease expires (landlord has to make reasonable attempt to fill unit).

Also... assuming you gave a forwarding address; seems the PM held onto your deposit way to long.  I would check your local laws and call out the PM for that... if nothing else, it will show you read are not just rolling over for charges.  Knowledge is power!

Medium c logo small logoMitch Coluzzi, Coluzzi Real Estate INC | [email protected] | http://www.coluzzirealestate.com | IA Contractor # C124035, IA Agent # B63267000

It sounds like the property management company is charging you for things they did to make the unit ready for the next tenant, not for damages that you caused. There is maintenance that must be done and improvements that are sometimes made at turnover time. Nothing on your list strikes me as chargeable to you, except the shower head if you took theirs off and didn't put it back on before you moved out.  Most of what is on the list reflects work needed after "normal wear and tear".

Definitely talk to the property manager about this.  Your original rental agreement and property condition report (move-in checklist) should protect you. Everything is negotiable and they should know better than trying to keep your security deposit for these things.  Ask them to itemized the charges and the reason they think you should pay them. Separate out "damages" from "normal wear and tear". Be polite and communicate your points clearly. If you don't get satisfaction, ask to speak to someone higher up.

You can take them to small claims court if they dig in their heals. Let them know you are prepared to do that, but would rather work this out with them. Did you do a move-out walk through with the property manager? Did you happen to take photos of how you left the place? Both of those could help you win your case.  Even without them, I can see a judge ruling in your favor. Good luck.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Most, if not all of those things do not sound like the tenant is responsible.

I agree with @Mitch Coluzzi  .  

In addition, I can confirm that Washington State landlord-tenant law (RCW 59.18.280) requires the landlord to mail the deposit to the tenant, by regular first class mail, with a specific accounting for any amount withheld within fourteen (14) days after the tenant vacates. This would need to be delivered personally or by mail to the tenant's last known address... either the address you provided or the rental unit and then forwarded to you, which would occur if you put in a forwarding address with the U.S. Postal Service. Keep the envelope in which you received their letter, for the post mark is important. If the landlord missed this crucial date, you are entitled to a refund of your entire security deposit, regardless of any damages you may have caused.  

Landlord-tenant law (RCW 59.18.260) requires that if landlord collects a security deposit then the lease or rental agreement must be in writing and describe the terms and conditions under which a deposit may be withheld. Also the property condition upon move in must be documented and a copy given to the tenant.

[No legal advice. I'm not an attorney. I'm just a landlord with lots of experience.] 

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

Carefully read your landlord tenant laws for your state.

@Marcia Maynard  You are a life saver. I'm not in anyway trying to screw over the owner of the property (I fully intend on becoming a landlord myself one day, and hope I am fare when dealing with others). But this PM was just plain bad. She would rarely respond to any messages we left, both on her phone and with her office. Lots of items we had issues with during our stay were never addressed. And like you just pointed out, they took way to long to refund any portion of our deposit (moved out Oct 1st, just got the check today).

I will have to bring this to her attention in our meeting tomorrow. Thanks again for helping everyone!

@Tyson Bumgarner  I was a tenant for many years before I became a landlord. I won in small claims court in Oregon when a property management company tried to keep my security deposit for bogus reasons. What is the name of the management company you are dealing with? Sounds like you deserve better than what you got.  Remember to keep your cool during your meeting. Be polite, concise and to the point.  Due to the fact they missed the mailing deadline, they need to provide you with the full return of your security deposit.  All the other becomes moot at this point, but it would be interesting to know their reasoning.  After you resolve this, you may want to let the property owner know what happened. Also, thank you Tyson for your military service... all the best to your family too.  Good luck. Keep us posted.

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

So here's what happened.

I went to my meeting with the PM. Before she said anything I asked her if she knew what RCW 59.18.280 was. She ask me to just tell her. I read it out loud. She then asks how we can resolve this. I told her I wanted the rest of my deposit back minus the $201 from the window my kid broke. She said ok, and said that she would have a money order check in the mail by Friday. 

It's Friday, so I sent here a text message asking about the check. She replied saying that it was her fault not her company, so she is going to cover it out of her own pocket (probably because she will get fired or something). But she also said that she heard that military are supposed to leave a rental property in a rentable condition. So she wants to go to the post housing office and ask them if she needs to reimburse me for the cleaning and carpet cleaning. 

Just for information's sake. The window was $201 and she already gave me my "deposit refund" of $261 dollars (this was what I was disputing int the first place). And I say (and the law) that she owes me the remainder of the $1200 deposit which is $735.

That's where I'm at now. I'm going to my JAG office on Monday. 

Also, her company is either MAKO4 or Trans Northwest. I paid rent to Trans Northwest, but the deposit bill came from MAKO4.

@Tyson Bumgarner  If this is military housing, you may be under different requirements.  I am not familiar with expectations related to military housing. However I used to house clean for the commander of the Vancouver Army Barracks, and he did the move-out inspections for base housing with white gloves, no kidding. Property management was not outsourced to an outside agency, it was all taken care of within the military. She may be stalling you, or bluffing, or trying to lay guilt on you.  Stay the course. Firm and fair and polite. 

By the way, I did the math using the numbers from your posts and get $738 remaining due to you, so you might want to take another look at that. ($1200 security deposit minus $201 window damage minus $261 refunded earlier = $738 still due.) Good luck!

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

@Marcia Maynard  I left out some change in the numbers, it adds up to $735 with that into account. And no, this is off post housing. I have been talking to an attorney friend, and she has told me that the state doesn't make different rules for different people. So the PM saying that this is different because I'm military should have no affect on my claim.

And besides, when I went to our meeting at the old house, i didn't look like it had been cleaned at all. She claimed they had hired a cleaner, but what cleaner would leave trash in the house still? And the PM still had a contractor doing paint touch ups and stuff. I don't have any property yet, but that seems crazy to me to have the cleaners come before the contractors were done doing their work? I don't know, just seemed strange to me.

and that's why I self-manage ;) 

Ask for invoices, receipts and pictures. See if jag will write a strong letter

Nope, the only thing I saw were the batteries, that could be on you under your lease, they can't redecorate and charge you to install anything! Damage must be beyond normal wear and tear. She's digging in your pocket!

I agree, read the law, escrow requirements and time required to disburse funds, she may owe you money! :)

Medium logoscopiccroppedblue2Bill Gulley, General Real Estate Academy | https://generalrealestateacademy.com

Well... bottom line is the PM missed the date required by law to refund the security deposit, so you actually are entitled to the full $1200. Offering to pay for the damaged window shows integrity on your part. If she doesn't respond and do the right thing, prepare yourself for small claims court. If she is trying to intentionally cheat you, the law allows the court to award you up to two times the amount of the security deposit, plus court costs!

Marcia Maynard, Fischer Properties | Podcast Guest on Show #83

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