Question about renters and security deposits

cas66ragtopMay 4, 2011

I know this forum is for SELLING houses. Unfortunately there is not a RENTING forum, so I apologize if this is considered to be incorrectly posting.

I have been renting out my house (that didnt sell) for the past 2 yrs. The tenant was pretty decent, took decent care of the house, but there are a couple problems. I am trying to figure out a what would be considered fair, as far as keeping some of the security deposit. I also don't want a scenario where I really make the tenant mad and I get my house vandalized later on.

1. They left windows open and a door open - causing a vaccuum, which slammed the door shut so hard that the lower portion of the door frame seperated from the wall by about 2 inches, also causing some drywall damage.

2. The stainless steel kitchen appliances were all brand-new when they moved in. The oven - looks like food spilled on the interior oven "floor", and they must have taken a metal putty knife to scrape it off - all the paint has been removed, exposing bare metal. This space is about the size of a basket ball. I don't know that you CAN repair this, and it is going to get all rusty and nasty looking.

2A. The dishwasher had a stainless mirror finish interior. We have a lot of problem with lime and calcium build up, as we are on well water. We do not have a water softener. The interior of the dishwasher is now completely gunked up with build-up. What used to look like a highly polished chrome mirror is now all white and rough. Nasty looking. I know I can't blame them for the fact that this stuff does build up - but they DO make products that you can clean it with (that they never used) so the build up doesn't get out of hand.

2B. The over the stove microwave also had a stainless mirror finish interior - which is now full of scratches. I know you can expect a few scratches from simple wear and tear from a family of 5, using it for 2 years - but how much is too much?

3. There are two bedrooms that had nice curtain rods and nice curtains on them (6 windows total - 2 single windows, 2 double windows). They are totally gone. Replaced by flimsy aluminum el-cheapo curtain rods with blankets (yes blankets) replacing the curtains. The curtains that were there were decent, stylish, totally acceptable, and now they are just gone.

4. All faucets and sinks have an incredible ammount of lime/calcium build up. Again, you can't blame them for the water quality - but this is after 2 years. We lived there 7 years and everything still looked brand new. It got this way all because they never attempted to clean them. Now the build up is so bad, I don't know if you CAN clean them. It may be more cost-effective to REPLACE the faucets than to spend countless hours trying to remove all the build-up. I know it sounds like I am exaggerating, but I am not - it is REALLY bad.

5. Now this is the more rediculous one - when they moved in, every single light bulb functioned. Last time I looked at the house, at least 12 bulbs were burned out. Like they had no intention of ever replacing anything, they were going to leave that for me. Well 12 bulbs adds up - you have the actual cost of the bulb, and my time and gas going to the store, and physically replacing them. I have been a renter before, and never did I expect the landlord to have to replace all my bulbs for me. I couldn't believe it when I saw this.

6. Contract says house is to be clean and broom swept upon vacating. I expect to get house back in same condition as it was when they first moved in - which was totally spotless. How much security deposit is fair to keep if you have to vaccuum and steam clean all carpet, clean all appliances inside and out and clean all faucets/sinks/showers? They have not officially moved out yet, but I do expect I will have a lot of cleaning to do.

So, I guess first of all, how much of this damage can be looked at as simple wear and tear, and therefore I should just ignore it? And how much of it is their negligence and how much would I fairly be entitled to keep? Granted, they haven't tore huge holes in the walls, ripped up carpet, nothing major - but you add all this stuff up, and you can easily see I still have some expenses here that they have clearly caused, due to their negligence/laziness. I just don't know how I can tell them I expect to be reimbursed for a $65 faucet (plus labor) - when they probably think all I need to do is squirt some Windex on it and invest 5 minutes and its good as new. I expect to get back some damages, but I just don't want to go overboard and end up looking like an unrealistic jerk. I really don't want to set myself up as a target for my house to get vandalized later on.

Any comments/suggestions welcome. Thank you in advance.

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Wow, I don't know where to begin. I must tell you, my husband and I are presently renting a large house, 18 months and our lease will be up in August. I will give you my take from a renters point of view.

If your water is hard, why didn't you tell the tenant you expected them to add softener? Should they pay for this?

When we moved into this house, many light bulbs began to burn out after a few weeks. Over the course of 16 months, we've regularly replaced light bulbs including halogen bulbs over the stove top. We did not ask the landlord to pay, although the halogen bulbs were expensive and had to be bought from the manufacturer of the hood. Driveway lights burned out which we had to replace. Climbing up ladders (husband is in his 70's) to replace bulbs outside and in the garage. I certainly will not replace any which burn out before we leave.

If any of those bulbs burn out again, we have no intention of replacing them. That is not my responsibility.

Because of water issues, we had to install a filter on the sink which I intend to take with us. I have had to use various products in the washer to keep our clothes from turning brown. I lost a whole load of white clothes because the landlord failed to inform me the water was high in iron which turned the clothes brown. I had to buy products to prevent that from happening again. I would have appreciated knowing that!

We had to have a clogged shower drain snaked one month after moving in. Landlord told us we need to pour Draino into the drain each month to prevent that happening. He laughed and said he forgot to tell use. I feel he should pay for the Draino and I intend to deduct that charge and the snaking charge from the last months rent.

We have had to replace furnace filters as well as air conditioner filters because none were left for us. They were not cheap and very difficult to access. There were various things which broke due to no fault of us. It was probably normal wear and tear. Two kitchen cabinet pulls fell off. We had to replace the screws (not easy to find)and hire someone to put the pulls back on. They were probably broken before we moved in, but we can't prove that.

Another problem, the refrigerator drawer broke. We did not cause that. It is a cheap refrigerator and old. The fronts of the plastic draws just fell off. Can you imagine how difficult it is to use those drawers. You have to open them by sliding your hands under the drawers to slid them out.

The dryer almost went on fire. We called and said something was wrong with the dryer. He refused to fix it. I hired someone who pulled it out and found years of lint inside the vents. We paid to clean out the vents. I intend to deduct that from the last months rent.

We are paying a high rent and I expected things to work. I didn't expect to repair things at my expense. If this landlord keeps one penney of our deposit, I will take him to small claims court.

I paid my rent on time every month. I can't imagine living anywhere where something wouldn't break. If you had bad water, that is your responsibility. Why would you expect the renter to know that. If you wanted special products used to keep your dishwasher clean, you should provide that with instructions.

Window curtains...I can't even go there. Just know, we hid the ugly blinds with velcro tape which we hang blackout panels, each night, before going to bed. Looks ugly, but we will remove before we leave.

I can't believe you expect to charge for light bulbs. How do you know how long the bulbs lasted before they burned out. They should replace them and charge you. Their rent should be enough to cover light bulbs.

I'm sorry for the rant, but you are wrong and should consider yourself lucky you only had normal wear and tear.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:38PM
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I think some of this stuff depends on how your contract is written. I've been a renter and several of these items were specifically noted in the contract. I think you probably need to amend yours for the future.

Here is my opinion.

1. The renters were not negligent. I think it is on you to fix.

2. I would get written estimates for repair. If the repairman says they cannot be repaired, then I would replace. I would bill the renter or keep from deposit the cost. I would take pictures and document.

2A. I think this one is on you since it is the water that causes it.

2B. If it is still usable, I'm not sure there is anything you can do.

3. I would buy curtain rods and curtains similar to what was there and bill them for the cost. They removed something that was your property.

4. I would try some vinegar and soak them. I don't know that you can charge the renter for them. If they have been in place for 9 years, I don't think you'd win in small claims court if you tried to pursue it.

5. It has always been in my contract to replace burnt out bulbs. In fact, the last place made me remove my flourescent bulbs and but some what had been in there previous or I would have been charged $3 each. I think this one depends on your contract as to whether they are responsible or you are responsible.

6. I don't think broom clean means what you want it to. You need to amend the contract. My contracts have always had lists for move in condition and move out condition. It specified an amount for carpet cleaning to be taken from deposit. It specified that cost for cleaning would be taken out if a housecleaner had to be called in. The contract specified that refrigerators needed to be cleaned and wiped down, stove had to be clean. Burner plates were always replaced or unstained condition. Windows were cleaned. Floors had to be swept and mopped.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2011 at 11:48PM
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Unless the curtains were in the lease, you're SOL. Furnishings must be specified, otherwise, they're just crap left by previous tenants = fair game.

Lightbulbs?!? Seriously? If they mean so much to you, put it in the lease. Don't be surprised, however, if the tenant calls YOU to replace them if they go out during the course of the lease. (If they didn't bring it in, and can't take it with them when they go, then YOU fix it - YOU own it, after all.)

Before you add things like lightbulbs and carpet cleaning deductions to leases, you need to check with your local ordinances. (In my municipality, it is illegal to deduct for carpet cleaning, or even to put it in a lease, as it is wear and tear; I do live in a college town with many slumlords that make their living fleecing kids though, so our city has created many protections, so ymmv.)

As far as cleaning is concerned, I think everyone has a different definition of "clean" and those of us who are clean freaks know that we will have to clean spaces to get them up to our standards. As a renter for many years, I knew that I was going to spend the first few days in a new place cleaning it. You should, however, have a checklist for both move-in and move-out, include what adella mentioned. It protects both of you.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 12:19AM
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Just to clarify......the tenants WERE informed we had hard water. The reason we do not have (nor will we ever have) a water softener is because the salt can damage the concrete septic tank. They were aware of the hard water situation and they assured me they had lived with hard water before, and they knew how to handle it.

These are not "rookie" home renters/home dwellers - they are in their mid to late 40's - they should KNOW how to maintain and clean faucets or anything else that accumulates mineral build-up. Why should I be expected to reccommend, supply and instruct them on how to use these cleaners? I guess I should also pay for their laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and toilet paper. We don't want the dirty clothes or dishes (or other dirty things) causing an insect infestation. I'm glad they decided to provide that, because I guess I would have been at fault.

They should definitely know you don't take a metal scraper to a painted surface to clean your baked-on food spillage. I learned that when I was 10 yrs old or less. I have had stoves that were 20 yrs old that still looked practically new inside - all because previous owners or myself knew the proper way to maintain them. I don't see any excuse for a 2 yr old stove having this kind of damage. I know I can't charge them replace the whole entire stove, but I just can't decide what WOULD be fair. You are right - I need to get a service technician to look at it and give me a quote.

As for the hard water, no it is not their fault for the water quality, but again, we lived there for 7 years and ALL items still looked perfect. The severe build up is definitely due to lack of maintenance. Letting them off the hook because the water is hard is like letting someone off the hook for not mowing the lawn and allowing it to grow 6 feet tall - because it's not their fault that grass grows. Haha - know what I mean? It's all about MAINTENANCE.

I knew I would catch some flack with the light bulbs. I knew that would make me look like a cheapskate psychopath.........but I was trying to point out how ridiculous it is for someone to let all their bulbs burn out and expect the landlord to replace them all. Seriously, who does that? One or two that might have burned out during your last week or so in the house.....fine, but TWELVE that have been burned out for months? How cheap and irresponsible can you be?

There is no small claims court scenario here. I learned long ago court is for suckers. Even if you win, doesn't mean you will ever get paid. Not worth my time getting all the paperwork in order, taking time off work, etc - just to end up being even more aggravated. They are also moving far enough away where its really not worth my time pursuing. All I have to work with here is a $1000 security deposit - I am lucky that these damages do not equate to that much. You are right, if I rent again, I should cover my bases a little better and spell out some fines or something. I thought my lease was already persnickety enough, but maybe I need to do better to protect myself.

This is my fist time renting, and I guess I really did very well, but it still amazes me how people can be. I rented 4 places (2 of them absolute dumps) when I was younger and just starting out, and not once did I abuse or disrespect the property. I always took very good care of it and left it just as I had found it. The only thing I ever remember doing was I tried to force a window open that had been painted so many times it was stuck - and I broke the glass, and I also cut my arm. The landlord came out and fixed it - and I paid for cost of the materials, and I helped him fix it. He didn't make me pay for it - I offered, and he accepted. He came out at 10pm during a thunderstorm on a weeknight to take care of this, he was a decent guy, he was not a slumlord, he deserved respect. Yeah, it should have been the landlord's responsibility to pay for it, because afterall, that's a fire hazard having a window that doesn't function - but at the same time, I should have been smart enough to know it wasn't going to open and I should have left it alone. More my fault. I learned a lesson, I owned up to my own responsibility, and I also got a lesson in how to replace a window all for only $25 - a bargain. You let that happen to anybody else today, and they would be trying to get a million dollars for all the pain and suffering inflicted because of the cut or because of the fire hazard. But thats the difference here........I hold myself to a higher standard than a lot of other people seem to. I am not saying this as a pat on my back, to boost my own ego - I am just saying it is a real shame there are so many people out there who can't take pride in anything they have, or who they are, and they can't show anyone else any respect. Those days are pretty much all gone.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 1:22AM
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You aren't thinking like a landlord. You're thinking like a homeowner with long term visitors who just happen to pay you money. It's all normal wear and tear. The rent you charged should have been high enough for you to factor this wear (and possibly more!) in every month. You may need to reasses the amount of rent you charge and the contract that you use if you put it back into the rental pool again. And, definately become more detached about your property.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 1:38AM
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"Contract says house is to be clean and broom swept upon vacating. I expect to get house back in same condition as it was when they first moved in - which was totally spotless."

Broom clean is NOT spotless.

most of the issues you appear to have are normal wear and tear, possibly exacerbated by hard water.
The tenant is not responsible for the hard water, or the consequences of the hard water.

The missing curtains and rods could be an issue, but you will have to wait and see if they either put them back or leave them for you.

I would guess you have no claim against them for the door slamming closed either.

Sounds more like inadequate construction.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 9:12AM
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1. How do you know that happened? Is that what they said. I would expect this to be deducted from the security deposit as it is actual damage. Could been somebody getting mad and slamming the door too.

2. Damage so you should be able to deduct. No idea on amount though. A & B would not be.

3. I would think the curtain rods for sure as they were attached to the property, but the curtains - no.

The rest is a no. Unfortunately not all people care for things as their own and even if it is their own they don't care for that either. Seems like your renters are those kind of people and it is unfortunate for you.

Broom swept is just that - not spotless. If you wanted same condition you should have specified that in your contract.

As for light bulbs - this seems dumb to even argue about from both renters and landlord side. Bulbs burn out and it is not like it is a known schedule when they will. If a person wants the light then they should replace it and I would never ever expect a landlord to do that while I'm living there, however on the other end if there are lots of burned out lights when I get it back as a landlord I'd just expect that as the cost of doing business. Some people care to have the lights others don't. Sounds like something to be spelled out in contracts even as silly as it sounds to me.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 10:26AM
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I'm a landlord.

I've also spent many years (in the military) as a tenant.

1. A door slamming shouldn't reasonably be expected to pull itself from the frame and cause drywall damage. I suspect faulty/poor installation. I would not recommend charging your tenants for this

2. The stove is still functional. You're not going to go buy a replacement stove, and I don't foresee the lifespan being shortened (you mention rust, but I don't think that's an issue). I would recommend letting it go, but if you can't, get an appliance repair quote on what it would take to re-enamel that sheet.

2a. Hard water is your deal to manage, not a tenant's

2b. Normal wear and tear

3. Tenant should pay for placement of like materials if the originals are not put back in place--provide itemized list (and you better be able to provide original receipts/pictures of the window dressings in question)

4. Again, hard water is your problem. Not the tenant's

5. Are you serious? This is your issue. You should feel embarrassed for even thinking about charging for burnt out lightbulbs.

6. It's already been mentioned, but broom clean is not spotless. Side note--unless you required steam cleaning of carpets, etc in the lease agreement, you are responsible for cleaning the carpets upon move out, if desired.

Your tenants do not sound lazy or negligent (if anything, they were a little TOO industrious with the cleaning of the oven). They just don't treat their "rental" with the same care as you treat your own home. I'd hate to see your reaction to a truly bad tenant.

If you determine you will be keeping any of their security deposit, ensure that your tenants are given an ITEMIZED list of what was deducted for what within 30 days of their move out date.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 11:26AM
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I was one of those renters who went over & beyond on cleaning, especially when I moved out. Only once - 20 years ago as stupid kids did we not get our entire deposit back - which was our own fault. Granted we left the house itself immaculate. When we moved out it was right after Christmas & a huge snowstorm though. Thinking it'd be funny (not, though) my hubby stuck the Christmas tree upright in the snow. It looked like it was growing in the front yard! The landlord was not amused and charged us for removal, lol. I don't blame him at all.
#1 -- That wasn't caused by a vacuum. It was slammed really hard in order to mess up the drywall. Charge them.
#2 -- Basketball size scrapes in the oven? Negligence which they had no excuse for.
The dishwasher can be cleaned. Just do it.
#3 -- Ask them where the curtains are. Perhaps they were packed by mistake & you can get them back. If not, just rent it again without draperies.
#4 -- Yes, it's a pain, but just clean the faucets. A couple of years ago we bought the in-laws house & they were in the same shape -- but YEARS of build up from calcium. It was a pain, but they really weren't that big of a deal to clean. Buy some CLR and do it.
#5 -- Yes, it is rediculous - it's rediculous of YOU to be worried about simple light bulbs. They burn out. Perhaps you expected them to save the original ones for you, lol? It's normal wear & tear.
#6 -- You started that they haven't "officially" moved out. What's to say they haven't finished cleaning? Dirty carpet is normal wear & tear. And unfortunately some people don't see "clean" the way we do. Unless it's completely filthy, you may need to just eat it.
It's a hard lesson to learn as first time landlords but chalk up the minor stuff to what - unfortunately - may happen when renting out your home. - especially which you of course have emotional attachments to.
The next time you rent, right before they move in take detailed pictures of your home that are stamped with the date. Write up a more detailed lease. Put into it that you may make inspections -- But give them a heads up when you are planning to stop by.
When we were first married we had a landlord who put the house up for sale without notifying us, didn't tell us he was showing it, didn't ring the doorbell or knock. We found out as we slept in one morning on our day off...Suddenly we heard voices & our bedroom door was flung open! Thank goodness we weren't sleeping in the buff, lol.
My in-laws rented out a home for around thirty years. The stuff that they had to deal with was sooo much worse than this. They had to haul away truckloads of trash, carpeting had been completely removed. Screens were missing. It was infested with roaches. Toilets were clogged & "full" if you know what I mean. Faucets were left running. Windows were broken. Keys weren't turned in so they had to replace locks. It was we left absolutely filthy on multiple occasions. When something went wrong that my in-laws would have fixed the renters didn't bother letting them know. The damage deposits didn't even begin to cover the results. It didn't matter if the renters were poor or well-to-do.
Perhaps the next renters will live like you do. Many do, but not all. Unfortunately you've now leaned your first lesson. Being a landlord can be a royal pain if you get the wrong renters in. Is it worth it enough for you to just deal with the little stuff? If not, sell it.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 1:09PM
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some people in this market get backed into a corner and feel like they have to rent, can't take the loss to sell.

I was feeling this at one point, and everyone was encouraging just rent your nice little house out and take a small loss each month.

what has happened here is why I didn't and took the loss.

your complaints are well, small in my opinion. this is what renters do, probably at least 75% if not higher. they don't take immaculate care of the house, they don't clean things like they should. it takes abuse. and ultamately the landlord eats the cost on some of these b/c you have to expect some of this to happen. this is why most rentals are not nearly as nice as regular homes, and also why when some people compare renting and buying from a cost perspective, its not 100% apples to apples really.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 1:10PM
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I have to agree you are going to have to chalk most of this up to lessons learned.
Being a landlord is not for the faint of heart. You need to look over your contracts and make some serious adjustments in your wording as well as your expectations.
I've done the rental thing as a landlord on and off over the years and the one thing I learned is NEVER rent a house you intend to sell. The amount of damage a renter can do can ruin a house worth selling and make it financially impossible to get out of it what you need to in order to sell it.
I'd also would reconsider renting out house with a septic tank. That's a money pit waiting to be opened. Given what renters typically do to bathrooms I sure hope you have cash stashed away for when that septic needs to be cleaned or worse dug out. Most folks don't get there are certain items that should not be flushed down a septic system. It doesn't take long for those little surprises to add up and you end up with a big mess and a big bill.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 3:56PM
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And, honestly, this is also how many homeowners are (not just renters)... oblivious to things like hard water damage and cleanliness

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 7:46PM
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"The amount of damage a renter can do can ruin a house worth selling and make it financially impossible to get out of it what you need to in order to sell it. "

If you must hire the work out, probably.

If you are willing to put in some effort. not in most cases,

    Bookmark   May 5, 2011 at 7:47PM
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It sounds like some of the appliances are not the best choices to use in a rental with very hard water. ("Mirror finish" and "hard water" are not very compatible.)

You want special cleaning to be done to preserve finishes and although it seems simple and common sense to you, clearly not everyone goes out to buy special cleaners e.g. for the inside of a DW.

You might consider hiring a bonded cleaning service (maybe every other week) and raise the rent a bit to cover part or all of it. I had friends in rentals like that when I lived in the city and it worked out great -- they got the house cleaned and the landlords knew that cleaning was being done to their specifications. Because the services were bonded, there was some insurance against potential issues like theft.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 11:00AM
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I've been meaning to chime in but my iPad doesn't do GW posting all that well and this is my first chance at the desktop in a while...but I've also been a military renter and long-distance landlord.

I think there is a finer line between "cleaning" and "maintenance" than other people have implied. My tenants are expected to keep a rental clean which takes care of some maintenance, such as hard water. I also would've expected the tenants to keep up on hard water build-up.

As a current landlord, my lease contract spells out that the tenant is responsible for maintenance up to $50 (or maybe $100, can't remember). That means they're supposed to replace lightbulbs on fixtures and filters and batteries and such. Over that amount, landlord will fix.

The lease has check boxes for items that stay with the house, mostly for appliances, but I add stuff like window treatments or any items that convey with the house (i.e. shams that match the wallpaper).

I'm up front about the security deposit. A dirty carpet is not "wear and tear" in my book. So I explain that the security deposit will be used (if necessary) for carpet cleaning and/or housekeeper services after they move out. I provide copies of the receipts if they need it. It's too shady to charge for my own labor, so I prefer to hire it out and then if there are tax implications later, it's easier, too. If I had to hire someone special to clean up hard water deposits, then I'd take that out of the security deposit, too.

If they had a dog or cat (with extra pet deposit and references) then I tell them that the carpet WILL be professionally cleaned either by them or by me (using funds from the deposit).

If they haven't keep up on basic landscaping (mowing, edging, hedging, weeding), then they will pay for that, too. (Since they negotiated reducing the rent, so that I wouldn't have to pay for a service, with the promise they would do it themselves, not realizing how much time a new baby takes out of their schedule.)

As a tenant, I move out a few days early and I pay for those myself after I move out. I'm exhausted by the move and don't have the energy to clean anymore (like I cleaned apartments that I moved out of when I was single). Guaranteed the last rental I moved out of was far, far cleaner when I left than when I arrived (won't go into the gross details, but it had been the landlord's residence).

As for the lime & scale, I assume you've already tried soaking everything in vinegar. I have to routinely clean with vinegar or else it builds up in about two weeks here in Florida. And I have to run it through the coffeepot about every other week or it'll clog up, too. I'm buying in Costco size for the DW and washing machine (haven't tried yet, but I know it's past due).
I don't know if you can use CLR with a septic, but you can always use it in a bucket and dump it out elsewhere - it works great though.

Good luck

    Bookmark   May 10, 2011 at 10:48AM
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The one thing I would add to what others have said, your tenants were a couple with three children?

I think it's just realistic to assume a house with three kids is going to end up with a little more wear and tear than a household without. Also, there's only so much time in the day and getting the special cleaner and keeping up with the hard water deposits, well, that's probably not going to happen.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 11:03AM
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"A dirty carpet is not "wear and tear" in my book. So I explain that the security deposit will be used (if necessary) for carpet cleaning and/or housekeeper services after they move out. "

Unless this is all in writing in the lease you are out f line.

Verbal (as in "explain")means NOTHING.

Dirty carpets are indeed wear and tear.
Even if you vacuum a carpet every day it is going to become dirty over a year or more and require serious cleaning.

If you put it in the lease (IN WRITING) you can deduct it form the security deposit if they fail to abide by the terms.

If is is NOT in writing you are treading on very thin ice if a tenant decides to go after you for withheld funds.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2011 at 11:55AM
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My mistake, yes, it's all in writing, of course. But it's also something I specifically point out to the tenants, not buried in the fine print. We tend to develop a relationship with our tenants (and sometimes landlords) so we discuss (or maybe negotiate?) specifics of the lease. Our current tenant paid $14K to put in a boat lift in lieu of a security deposit, and we knocked $200 off each month's rent. He also completed redid the place at his expense (we would have gladly paid materials) - took out the southwest motif (this is a Florida waterfront condo, if you can imagine how horrible it was), the mirrored walls, the tacky ceiling mounted lights, repainted, added a door to the master bath (because people could see you sitting on the toilet as they cruised by itheir boats, if they looked hard enough). The place sat empty for months before we found the right tenant, but we were very lucky to get a great one. The previous condo (1301 exchange) we sold to the tenant who had been in there 13 years after sitting empty for a painful 6 months.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 7:52AM
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go to this web sie and get info from real landlords, many which have many rentals. go to the Q and A can post a question there.

w w w dot mrlandlord dot com

i think they do charge for lightbulbs in general, plus I think the damage to the oven is really damage, not wear and tear. also IMO the missing drapes and rods need to be documented in lease and also photos beforehand, else you are out of luck. typical dirty carpet is wear and tear unless unusually stained/dirty such as spilled koolaid that was never cleaned up, animal urine, etc.the lime buildup on dishwasher and faucets you will need to figure out how to clean this or fix on your dime, IMO. scratches on microwave are probably wear and tear.

the damege from the slammed door you are going to have to fix that issue. they should be able to leave a window open and not worry about the door frame breaking. IMO, maybe a teenager slammed the door so darn hard that it damaged the door frame. maybe they are just saying it is the window? I had a rental where the bedroom door for the preteen had broken door frame..cracked. all doors and trim were brand new when they moved in and properly installed. we simply fixed it after they left and did not charge them. i imagine the kid got mad and would often slam the door to the room.
all in all - your situation with the renters could be much worse. count your blessings. and sell it rather than rerent, cause next time it really could be bad.

maybe they will put the drapery back up. maybe they took it down to protect it from the kids. ask them about it if they are still living there now. just ask ' where are the drapes/curtains that were here when you moved in?'.

don't is a great site for landlords. but they do not allow tenants to post.
w w w dot mrlandlord dot com

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 11:58AM
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Ah, the joys of being a landlord...
I feel your pain, as I struggled with what to charge my former tenants for several items when they moved out.

here's my take:
1. drywall damage - I would charge
2. oven - tough one, I'll defer to other posters, but I think I would charge.
2A. DWasher: Clean it
2B. Microwave: Wear and tear, don't charge
3. Charge
4. All faucets: Clean them.
5. This is actually commonly in leases here. I would charge them.
6. Contract says house is to be clean and broom swept upon vacating.... You were expecting spotless? Really?
I would charge a cleaning fee.
tip: This will work well for faucets, the frig parts and even the stove top. Buy a hand held steamer, like the shark. It was great when I moved into this house and when I cleaned up after my tenants. it saves a lot of elbow grease. It works well on bathrooms.

    Bookmark   May 16, 2011 at 1:19PM
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I simply do not understand the light-bulb issue. Unless all the lights were new when a tenant moved in, how is the tenant responsible for replacing the light bulbs?

We are renting a large town-house, 3 floors with recessed ceiling lights. The ceilings are 12ft high. There are numerous ceiling lights throughout the house. Four bathrooms with both ceiling lights and vanity lights. Multiple driveway spots, some up on trees.

When we moved in, we noticed some of the recessed lights had CFL's screwed in, which looked weird. After 2 weeks, half the main-floor ceiling lights started burning out. We learned CFL's should not be used with dimmers. That was the cause of them burning out. Were we responsible for that? We replaced only the lights we needed. We had lamps which we used in the living room. We have replaced the kitchen recessed lights 3x since living here.

We have a large vent hood over the cooktop. There are 8 halogen lights. After one month, they all burned out within 3 days. I replaced those and they were expensive and difficult to install. If they burn out before we leave (3 months)I am not replacing those. They obviously were not new when we moved in.

We have no intention of replacing all these lights. If they were new when we moved in, that's a different story although I think the landlord is required to provide light for his tenant. I would assume that would be built into the rent. We pay for the electricity.

In a house this size and age, there were many things which needed repair but were not. I do not feel responsible for repairing things which broke due to age and use. How can a landlord charge for items which were 'on their last leg?'

I have a list of things which broke over the year and half not due to anything we did. They were just old and well worn. The light-bulb issue seems ridiculous to me.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 12:10AM
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Jane this is the 2nd time you responded to this post and you are still stuck on the light bulb issue. Both times you came here not to offer me any real advice - your goal was more of a self-serving nature, telling all your "woes" of being a renter. Again about the light bulbs - who cares when they were replaced or how old they were - bulbs burn out - when they do, you replace them. Purposely allowing them all to burn out shows real disrespect and shows a lot of irresponsibility to me. If this light bulb issue is still haunting you so badly that you need to come here yet again about it - maybe you have a few other bulbs burned out.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 7:38AM
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Jane - another thing I forgot to are onto something with this light bulb thing. A deep dark secret many landlords have known about for years. There is a secret place where all landlords go to buy light bulbs. These bulbs only cost us 3 cents a piece, and are designed to burn out in only 3 weeks. For all the unsuspecting tenants who replace them - they just made us BIG money. Suckers! The light bulb thing has been very profittable for us landlords. Now that you know our secret, we will have a representative come out and eliminate you.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 8:33AM
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"Unless all the lights were new when a tenant moved in, how is the tenant responsible for replacing the light bulbs? "

If they were all working it is pretty common for a tenant to replace them as required.

Most people like to be able to see in their house.

No, it is not in even my lease that all the lights must have working bulbs.
In the grand scheme of things it is a trivial expanse, though I would be pissed off if a tenant removed all the bulbs and left nothing.

It sounds like a nice long inspection with them there would be in order (I need to check every fixture for damage).

    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 10:51AM
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Ragtop, with your savings from the light-bulbs, you can buy the cleaner for the stainless and the lime build-up.


    Bookmark   May 18, 2011 at 11:02PM
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>>Keys weren't turned in so they had to replace locks.Shouldn't locks be replaced with ever change of renter, regardless? We turned 2 keys in with every rental change we made -- but we didn't go to a great deal of trouble hunting down every key that existed because the lock was going to get changed regardless. The first thing we did when getting a new rental after all was go and make more copies of the keys to make sure we would have copies if we managed to lock ourselves out! (We couldn't change the locks ourselves because the contracts all specified the tenant could NOT change the lock. After all the landlord needs a key too.)

I have never had to clean the inside of a dishwasher, nor would I consider it a necessity if not contractually obliged, in all the rentals we have lived in nor in the condo I owned for 6 years.

I did the best on the stove in our last rental. It was put in brand new for us because the previous stove had a burner not working. But it wasn't perfect. The landlords evidently considered it good enough because they gave us our entire deposit back.

I hope the house comes back to you in better condition than you expect it to at this point!

    Bookmark   January 2, 2013 at 1:34PM
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From experience, the only two you may have grounds for is the door and inside the stove. If they give you a hard time and go to some gov't renter protection agency you will loose 100% of the time.

    Bookmark   January 5, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Old thread I know, but just cant resist offering my opinion. I'd give them their whole deposit back and be glad that they paid the rent and didnt trash the place. It could be worse - oh, could it ever be worse!

On the other hand if you did a walk thru when they first moved in and can document that the place was furnished with curtains and the degree of cleanliness when they took possession, and if you laid out for them the expectation that it will be returned to you in the exact same condition, then you can go ahead and charge them - provide them an itemized list of what you are charging with dollar amount for each item. It's best to address this all in a tenant agreement (separate from lease) when leasing so they know what to expect and what your expectation is. If you didn't do this, then just charge them for obvious damage above wear and tear that THEY caused (vaccuum door slams not their fault).

Cleaning carpets, replacing bulbs, scratched mirror finishes - sorry, it comes with the territory. The good news is you can write it all off your taxes!

    Bookmark   January 7, 2013 at 11:25AM
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Old thread but oh, so interesting.

All repairs and cleaning to be deducted from security deposit.

End of story.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2013 at 10:12PM
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