Help! Maintenance not good enough.

6 Replies

Please help, I have lived in my apartment for 2.5 years, never a missed or late payment. Replaced my broken microwave myself to not bother the landlord. My cat walked in and out of the blinds enough times to break a few pieces off. They were Bali blinds supposedly custom cut but the store bought size. As an act of good faith I replaced every set of window blinds with the Bali grab and go blinds from Home Depot (same material). My landlord now wants to charge me to get all new blinds! Also, the carpet pulled up at the tacks from the traffic not the cat. The window screens (2) have a few marks from my cat The shower has some marks on the glass from the tap water. My family and I cleaned this place day and night for days, and I get that I may have to pay for some of this stuff but I don't want to get taken advantage of. What is reasonable ? Help! Best, Greg P.s. live in Los Angeles, CA

Here are the items you're being charged for, based on what I can read from your text.

Microwave (maybe?) - new item not the same quality as the old item, so maybe you're being charged for the higher quality item that was in there before (pure speculation on my part as you don't give enough info on that item.

Window blinds - again, what was broken was a higher quality than your replacement?  The landlord wants the same blinds back in.

Please note - the above two items - this is why landlords should ALWAYS be notified of any damage or repairs that need to be done.  Doing it yourself will almost always cause a conflict with landlords that want their property to match their own specifications (not yours).  

Carpet pulled up at the tack strip - if this is really wear and tear, then you should not be charged for this.  If it's the tack strip on the transition into another room, I could see this as wear and tear.  If it is in a corner or along a wall, then it kinda feels like this might be your cat (which is already coming across as a very destructive critter).

Window screens - "a few marks from your cat" would indicate "a place for bugs to enter" to me.  I've seen what a cat does to a screen and it's non trivial.  However, this is not a very expensive repair.  $15 worth of materials and 30 minutes of somebody's time and this is good to go.

Hard water marks on the shower glass - this is a cleaning issue and there are a ton of products out there that would have taken care of this.  Unless they use a professional cleaning service when the tenants do not do a sufficient job, the charge for this shouldn't be very high.

You say "My family and I cleaned this place day and night for days" - I really, really, really hope this is an exaggeration.  2-4 people cleaning for 16 hours a day for 2 days would indicate that this is either a humongous house, you really trashed the place for years and had a lot to clean or you're really bad cleaners.  In all that cleaning, the fact that you still had hard water marks might indicate the latter.

The things you mentioned is worth something around $100 in materials (screens, cleaning items and etc, except for blinds) and could be installed in 2-3 hrs with blinds, and probably a day of labor, not sure why you said cleaned day and night, but my guy can do whole house interior cleaning in 4 hours. For the blinds, 90% of landlors buy stuff from HD or Lowes, so if he claims its from another source, ask for a previous receipt where he bought the blinds and do a re-order. Anything above $500 is a rip-off. I don't think the carpet is your fault, that's a regular wear and tear and part of their maintenance. They go like $2-3/sf for a fresh one, if you were to change it.

Originally posted by @Account Closed :
Please help,

I have lived in my apartment for 2.5 years, never a missed or late payment. Replaced my broken microwave myself to not bother the landlord.

My cat walked in and out of the blinds enough times to break a few pieces off. They were Bali blinds supposedly custom cut but the store bought size.

As an act of good faith I replaced every set of window blinds with the Bali grab and go blinds from Home Depot (same material).

My landlord now wants to charge me to get all new blinds!

Also, the carpet pulled up at the tacks from the traffic not the cat.

The window screens (2) have a few marks from my cat

The shower has some marks on the glass from the tap water.

My family and I cleaned this place day and night for days, and I get that I may have to pay for some of this stuff but I don't want to get taken advantage of.

What is reasonable ? Help!

Best, Greg

P.s. live in Los Angeles, CA

 Greg, have you moved out?  Did your landlord give you written notification of your rights regarding an initial (pre-move out) inspection?

My sense is that this landlord can't do what they're trying to do.  But, I need a lot more info.  Feel free to DM me if you want to.  Otherwise, to advise you I need to know a lot more info.  Did you move out?  Etc.

For your info, here's a California Dept of Consumer Affairs website that covers security deposit info, and what's considered damage vs. normal wear and tear:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/se...

Thank you all for your quick responses. We have moved out and the landlord seemed easy going int he begging. The process has become arduous and they are no longer returning texts or calls. During the walkthrough they mentioned that the blinds they had were custom cut, however when measured they were the typical bali dimensions and brand from home depot. We have pictures of the blinds at move in that show some were below the window spec and left an inch or two gap on each side of the window not to mention being short 6" - 12" depending on the window. We will see where this process takes us. Currently we have moved in with the in-laws and are saving to buy our first principle or investment property. 

If this is typical for landlords it inspires me to provide people with better. I am now taking the perspective that you have to experience this side of the transaction before being on the other. I will keep you all posted. @Sue Kelly, I will definitely keep you posted . 

Thanks again,

Gregory Lomelin

UPDATE: I finally received my partial security deposit back today. My previous landlord could not be contacted over the last few weeks and last night I received a text message that the partial refund was in my old mailbox. Along with it I found an itemized list for deduction. 

Overall I'd say it was fair. There were two deduction that were questionable. There was a cleaning charge as well as a charge for the infamous blinds. What was peculiar was that everything that was deducted had an accompanying receipt except for the blinds which had a copy of a Home Depot online shopping cart for blinds that hadn't actually been purchased that was printed yesterday which makes it seem like an afterthought. Why print the shopping cart and not the confirmation? Disputing this seems like it wouldn't be worth the time although the blinds deduction was $158. 

It was a learning experience, and being on this side of the transaction will have untold benefits in the future when roles are reversed. 

@Sue Kelly, @Manolo D.

Originally posted by @Account Closed :

UPDATE: Overall I'd say it was fair. 

 I'm glad it ended up in a manner you felt was fair.  I'd guess that initially you were a little surprised/afraid that you might lose most or all of your deposit because of damage caused by you and your cat.

You said a couple of time that you will use your understanding of being a tenant to help you be a better landlord.  That's great.  If you become a tenant again before you become a landlord, I recommend you try looking at it from the landlord's perspective.

A landlord is very proud of her rental properties and wants her tenants to live in a place that is better than just the average crap apartments she remembers from when she was a tenant.  She buys new carpet for her rental properties, and pays to have it professionally installed.  She buys new blinds and screens for her apartments and pays to have them professionally installed.  She buys a new microwave ovens that not just the cheapest one at Wal-Mart.  She has new screen installed on all the windows.  And so on, and so on, and so on.  Two great tenants move into two of her properties on the same day.

Two years later, the two tenants move out and she has two empty properties.  She goes to inspect each.  In unit A, nearly everything is as it was the day she rented the property.  The carpet looks nearly as new as it did the day it was installed two years earlier.  Sure, there are a few minor things. Some paint chipping off the corner of a wall here, an indention in the bedroom wall from where the tenant pushed the bed against it too hard.  But overall, the unit is very well kept and the tenant has cleaned it so well the landlord can rent it to a new tenant without doing anything else to it -- if she's lucky, she can have it rented immediately.  She's very happy.

In unit B, the landlord discovers a few issues.  The cat ripped holes in the new window screens.  Some of the blinds that the landlord personally chose and liked (maybe a little more than a landlord should) have been replaced with a slightly different but noticeably inferior quality product -- without her prior knowledge or consent.  She also discovers the microwave she had in the unit has been replaced with a newer but lesser quality microwave -- again without her consent.  The carpet is pulled up in places and overall looks much worse for wear than in the other unit.  The landlord wonders if she'll have to replace the carpet in Unit B, which she'd bought only two years earlier, and she wonders how much more it will cost this time around.  Finally, the landlord realizes that while the tenants made an effort to clean Unit B, there are still multiple areas that are not clean enough to immediately turn the unit around the rent to a new tenant.  She'll have to call in her cleaning service.  But before she can do that, she'll have to call in her handyman to install new blinds, screens, check to see if the carpet can be repaired.  If the carpet has to be replaced, she'll have to go see if the store still has the same color in stock.  If not, she may have to recarpet the entire house and not just the one or two rooms with the damaged carpet.  

During the move-out meeting with the tenant of Unit B, the landlord can instant sense that the tenant bristles when the landlord mentions she may have to withhold part of the security deposit to cover the damages.  The landlord wonders how difficult the tenant will prove to be once she has exact numbers to deliver after the work has been completed.  Sitting in her office now, discussing the damage, the tenants are already proving to be a little difficult by denying the damage is as bad as it really is, but having a comeback answer (insufficient as each answer is) to every problem the landlord mentions.  When the former tenants of Unit B exit the office, the landlord takes two aspirin.  She decides that whatever the final tally is, she'll make sure the tenants get back a little more than they're actually entitled to, just to hopefully get them out without too much more complaining.

Good luck in your future real estate ventures, Greg!

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