Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

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ClassySDLivin
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Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by ClassySDLivin » Sun Jun 11, 2017 5:58 pm

I appreciate any opinions shared - I self-manage a rental (condo) in San Diego, CA. The long term tenant (lived there 4 years) is getting ready to move. A few items will need to be cleaned or repaired and I am unsure if I should bear the cost, charge it to the tenant or share the cost between the two of us. The items:
1) An over the counter microwave had part of the plastic front cover broken off. Pricing the part from the manufacturer it is $125. The unit is approx. 10 years old so I plan to replace it instead of just repairing the one obvious broken part(it will cost approx. $250 to replace). Is it reasonable to require reimbursement of the $125 broken part even though I plan to replace the unit?
2) Their are some stains on the carpet (it was brand new when the tenant moved in). I plan to bring in a professional dry cleaner and hope to have all the stains removed (cost approx. $100). Is it reasonable to require reimbursement?
There will be other costs for getting it rent-ready but I am considering them wear and tear and not seeking reimbursement. Also, I plan to charge the tenant for a replacement screen on a patio sliding door that was damaged ($10 for the materials and I will fix). Thanks in advance for all comments.

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bottlecap
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by bottlecap » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:14 pm

Would you have cleaned the carpet anyway? If not, I could see charging them for that if the stains are real bad or maybe half the cost if they're not that bad.

You could also charge them the $125 ("broken" is not "wear and tear") or charge them 60 to 70% of the $125 since you're replacing anyway.

But I would think breaking stuff and staining new carpet is something you should charge for. Neither are wear and tear through normal use, for which the landlord would be solely responsible for.

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petesamprs
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by petesamprs » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:18 pm

Personally, I would eat these costs if I had a good tenant for 4 years. All minor things that fall into the wear and tear category in my view.

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tennisplyr
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by tennisplyr » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:30 pm

Eat the cost, nickel and diming a good tenant isn't fair to them.
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JGoneRiding
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by JGoneRiding » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:38 pm

tennisplyr wrote:Eat the cost, nickel and diming a good tenant isn't fair to them.
You are clearly Not A landlord. The tenant is LEAVING noy asking for things to be fixed who cares if they were good they did damage that has to be repaired before someone else can move in.

Op, people expect to be charged for carpet cleaning mo worries there, it was clean when they moved in so should be when they move out and if it isn't they need to pay. The screen should pay for both cost and time in full. The microwave I would pro rate for years of wear and tear.

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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Dottie57 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:47 pm

JGoneRiding wrote:
tennisplyr wrote:Eat the cost, nickel and diming a good tenant isn't fair to them.
You are clearly Not A landlord. The tenant is LEAVING noy asking for things to be fixed who cares if they were good they did damage that has to be repaired before someone else can move in.

Op, people expect to be charged for carpet cleaning mo worries there, it was clean when they moved in so should be when they move out and if it isn't they need to pay. The screen should pay for both cost and time in full. The microwave I would pro rate for years of wear and tear.
Cleaning a carpet is wear and tear. As a new tenant I expect carpet to be clean. Stains which don't come out are different.

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CAsage
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by CAsage » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:53 pm

What does your contract say with regard to cleaning? I would think carpet cleaning is reasonable. As is repairing the broken screen (a quick job). But an end-of-life microwave - no, that doesn't seem reasonable. It probably broke because the old plastic part got so brittle with time.... Just my opinion. Appliances have a lifetime, and 10 years for a microwave is fair. It needs replacing regardless of his moving out.
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Nate79
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Nate79 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 6:57 pm

Do you know the tenant laws in this area?

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gasdoc
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by gasdoc » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:15 pm

I have cleaned small wine stains on white carpet, done minor repairs like replacing cabinet pulls that came off, etc., without charging the tenant. I would be thankful a tenant of 4 years did no more damage than you describe. I would not nickel and dime what has otherwise been a good tenant. Just my opinion.

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bottlecap
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by bottlecap » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:36 pm

I'll add that if you haven't cleaned the carpets in 4 years, you'd have to have them cleaned anyway. If getting the stains out aren't extra, then you're not out anything.

While I agree that most tenants are far worse and that you're lucky, not staining carpet and not breaking a microwave isn't too much to ask from a civilized human, either. I guarantee if when the tenant buys a place and has to buy new carpet, the tenant will be a lot more careful! Even cheap carpet ain't cheap.

If they were an otherwise good tenant (as most here have assumed), you could give them a break. But this is stuff you could normally charge them for if you wanted, at least pro-rated as the other poster suggested.

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DVMResident
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by DVMResident » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:04 pm

ClassySDLivin wrote:1) An over the counter microwave had part of the plastic front cover broken off. Pricing the part from the manufacturer it is $125. The unit is approx. 10 years old so I plan to replace it instead of just repairing the one obvious broken part(it will cost approx. $250 to replace). Is it reasonable to require reimbursement of the $125 broken part even though I plan to replace the unit?
The microwave should be a fully depreciated item with $0 book value. Not defensible to charge them for $125 for a $0 value item. But nobody is stopping you and you won't get sued for $125 (well, up to 2x $125 in CA). Carpet should have 5 or 7 years lifetime and the $100 is fair.

Personally as a small time landlord, I would just eat the costs (total only $225) if that's all the damage 4 year loyal tenants left.

david99
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by david99 » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:43 pm

I wouldn't charge for the carpet cleaning since that is normal wear but if the carpet cleaning company has to charge you extra to get the stains out then I would charge them for the extra charge.

The microwave should be prorated over the ten year period.

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Kevin M
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Kevin M » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:58 pm

Charging tenant to clean the carpet is standard. If carpet was professionally cleaned (or new) before they moved in, the tenant should be responsible for the cost of professionally cleaning it after they move out. I always charged my tenants for carpet cleaning.

Getting things dirty (carpet or otherwise) is not normal wear and tear.

Some apartment contracts I've seen specify a standard cleaning fee, regardless of how clean the tenants leave the place. I've never done this, and only have charged for cleaning if the unit was not as clean as when the tenants moved in.

I don't think $125 is justifiable for damage to a 10-year old microwave. No one would pay you $125 for the entire microwave oven. I'd probably just ignore this.

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Toadandfriends
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Toadandfriends » Sun Jun 11, 2017 9:35 pm

Tough crowd. During my college years (there were a lot of them) I lived in five different apartment complexes in three different states. Something always broke (maybe I'm clumsy) and of course the carpet was dirty by the time I left. Accidents happen. And remember, apartments are small so they receive heavy use. In fact, I lived in one complex for five years with my beloved albeit very destructive cat (now passed away, we can only remember him fondly) and he clawed up significant portions of carpet and ruined it. It was certainly brand new when I moved in. I expected to lose my security deposit and pet deposit etc. But no. Nobody ever charged me for anything when I moved out. Not at a single apartment complex. Bless those dear apartment managers. I was strapped for cash and it meant a great deal to me at the time.

Millennial
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Millennial » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:28 pm

As said above, you should only charge the tenant a max of the depreciated cost of any item - basically, ((number of years expected life left)/(total years expected life)*cost of item). For the microwave, this should be (0/10)*$250=0. So it is not fair to charge anything, in my opinion.

For the carpet, I'd expect that is something like 4/10*$2000=$800, so your carpet cleaning falls well within. I also think that because it needs to be done in response to a specific spill, and not normal use, you'd be within your rights to say it is not normal wear and tear. I'm still not sure I would charge this to a four year tenant, though, if the rest of the experience was positive.

The poster above who says he charges every tenant for carpet cleaning would run afoul of the law in my state, if taken from the security deposit.

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FelixTheCat
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by FelixTheCat » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:33 pm

I have a rental in San Diego. Those sound like normal wear and tear. Fix it and write it off on your taxes.
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tennisplyr
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by tennisplyr » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:29 am

JGoneRiding wrote:
tennisplyr wrote:Eat the cost, nickel and diming a good tenant isn't fair to them.
You are clearly Not A landlord. The tenant is LEAVING noy asking for things to be fixed who cares if they were good they did damage that has to be repaired before someone else can move in.

Op, people expect to be charged for carpet cleaning mo worries there, it was clean when they moved in so should be when they move out and if it isn't they need to pay. The screen should pay for both cost and time in full. The microwave I would pro rate for years of wear and tear.

Like I said, nickel and diming
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spectec
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by spectec » Mon Jun 12, 2017 7:55 am

Some of the discussion on this thread reminds me of why I decided many years ago to refuse to prepare tax returns for clients owning rental property.
Don't gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don't go up, don't buy it. - Will Rogers

crit
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by crit » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:04 am

This is the cost of doing business.

For me, the fuss of trying to recoup the few hundred bucks for carpet cleaning (as said above, the microwave is $0) would be nowhere near worth it. You might want to put a clause in the lease requiring that tenants have carpets cleaned themselves upon move-out.

But the bigger picture here is: your profit margin should be far, far bigger than needing to worry about this. If you're sweating this level of detail for real - you shouldn't be in this business.

If you sweat this level of detail because you're frugal, well, fine, but don't take it out on other people, like good tenants.

maroon
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by maroon » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:49 am

So you had a good tenant who paid the rent for four years, and now you're worried about $250 worth of repairs at the end? Just let it go. If you didn't generate enough profit to make this a non-issue, you're doing it wrong. I know several people who rented out their houses and were promptly hosed when their renters paid no rent and destroyed the property.

Riverstwo
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Riverstwo » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:52 am

You should be extremely thankful that is ALL there is to fix, clean or replace!!! You made out like a bandit!

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powermega
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by powermega » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:54 am

JMO, but I believe those are both the landlord's responsibility. If the carpet guys charged extra for the stains in the carpet, that could be something taken from the tenant's deposit.
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by an_asker » Mon Jun 12, 2017 11:03 am

Toadandfriends wrote:Tough crowd. During my college years (there were a lot of them) I lived in five different apartment complexes in three different states. Something always broke (maybe I'm clumsy) and of course the carpet was dirty by the time I left. Accidents happen. And remember, apartments are small so they receive heavy use. In fact, I lived in one complex for five years with my beloved albeit very destructive cat (now passed away, we can only remember him fondly) and he clawed up significant portions of carpet and ruined it. It was certainly brand new when I moved in. I expected to lose my security deposit and pet deposit etc. But no. Nobody ever charged me for anything when I moved out. Not at a single apartment complex. Bless those dear apartment managers. I was strapped for cash and it meant a great deal to me at the time.
You got off lucky. I've always had difficulty getting security deposit refunded - about ten different apartment complexes in three different states for me. And what I got charged with were mostly what have been referred to as nickel-and-dimings costs in this thread!

But as a landlord, I think we've been above nickel-and-diming - also, we take our property manager's advice (yes, we lose out a bit by not managing it ourselves - it is what it is!).

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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Carefreeap » Mon Jun 12, 2017 12:52 pm

ClassySDLivin wrote:I appreciate any opinions shared - I self-manage a rental (condo) in San Diego, CA. The long term tenant (lived there 4 years) is getting ready to move. A few items will need to be cleaned or repaired and I am unsure if I should bear the cost, charge it to the tenant or share the cost between the two of us. The items:
1) An over the counter microwave had part of the plastic front cover broken off. Pricing the part from the manufacturer it is $125. The unit is approx. 10 years old so I plan to replace it instead of just repairing the one obvious broken part(it will cost approx. $250 to replace). Is it reasonable to require reimbursement of the $125 broken part even though I plan to replace the unit?
2) Their are some stains on the carpet (it was brand new when the tenant moved in). I plan to bring in a professional dry cleaner and hope to have all the stains removed (cost approx. $100). Is it reasonable to require reimbursement?
There will be other costs for getting it rent-ready but I am considering them wear and tear and not seeking reimbursement. Also, I plan to charge the tenant for a replacement screen on a patio sliding door that was damaged ($10 for the materials and I will fix). Thanks in advance for all comments.
I'm a landlord and have owned two rental properties in San Diego County.

I would let the microwave handle go. It's ten years old and those plastic parts don't last forever. Unless I had proof otherwise I would consider that to be normal wear and tear. Under CA you would need to provide receipts for the repairs so I don't think it's right to make up the repair number and go out and buy a new unit. Would you get caught? Probably not but do you really want to do business this way?

With respect to the carpet cleaning, what does your lease say? I write into my leases that the property must be professionally deep cleaned including carpet and window cleaning and I give my tenant my vendor's contact info. Over the years I've had some issues with what my tenants have called "clean". Also many carpet manufacturer's warranties require an annual carpet cleaning. Be sure to write carpet cleaning in your future leases. Absent any instructions in your lease, a dirty carpet with a couple stains could be considered "normal wear and tear" for a four year tenancy.

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boomer
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by boomer » Mon Jun 12, 2017 2:41 pm

Regarding the carpet, what does your lease say? If it says carpet needs to be cleaned by the tenant, then they are responsible for the cost. However, they would also be allowed to choose the carpet cleaning service or even rent a rug doctor.

As far as the microwave, I would just consider that wear and tear and replace it.

Here in Utah, it has become customary for leases to charge a "non-refundable cleaning fee" for carpet cleaning as part of the deposit. This way, you can hire a professional carpet cleaner to clean the carpet at the time the tenant moves out. I have started doing this and really like it because all parties know that it will be withheld, and I am able to arrange for a carpet cleaner that will do a good job. It is acceptable to the tenant, because it is only reasonable that the carpet should be cleaned professionally when they move out, since it is that way when they move in. If the carpet is only four years old, hopefully the stains will come out. Most carpets within the last while have some sort of stain release. If they don't come out quite all the way after a professional cleaning, I would probably consider that wear and tear.

If I have had a good tenant, I don't like to go too hard on them. But it is reasonable to have them follow the terms of the lease.

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Meg77
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Meg77 » Mon Jun 12, 2017 3:32 pm

As a landlord myself, I don't think it's reasonable to deduct for the cost of cleaning the carpet, especially for a long term tenant. That should be done regardless. If there are serious stains on the carpet which do not come out with cleaning though and which require replacement before you could re-lease, you could arguably charge for replacing the carpet in that room (some leases address this). For example, I had a tenant whose child melted crayons all over the carpet in her bedroom, so I charged for that. I charged in another instance when a pet had been allowed to go to the bathroom on the carpet. But I've never charged for normal wear and tear to carpet which can include a few drips/stains here and there.

If the microwave is unusable due to the broken door, I would deduct the cost of the replacement from the deposit or ask them to pay for the repair. If it's simply a matter of a bit of the plastic being peeled off or something cosmetic, you can offer to split the cost of the replacement (they don't need to know you could order a handle/door and do a partial replacement. But I might just eat that cost too.

Sounds like you're getting out of there pretty well after 4 years!
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by coulombre » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:02 pm

I'm from Massachusetts and a former landlord. MA is a very, very pro-tenant state.

Unless you've followed very specific laws and regulations on security deposits, including keeping them in a separate, interest bearing account, paying the interest annually to the tenant, and giving the tenant written notice of where the interest bearing account is on deposit.

The landlord must also provide a new tenant with a written statement of condition and allow the tenant to add additional comments.

If the landlord does not follow their obligations they are unable to keep the security deposit for any reason. If the landlord does keep the security deposit despite not following the laws, the landlord is liable for triple damages, costs, attorney's fees and interest.

And MA regulations say that a carpet may have moderate wear and spotting, and that is considered normal wear and tear.

I mention all this because I imagine California is just a protective of tenants as Massachusetts. Unless you have followed all landlord requirements, you're entering dangerous waters.

As others have suggested, for a good tenant I'd just eat this one. The are both arguable charges. Carpets get dirty. Old microwave ovens wear out and break. Be thankful that's all you have to deal with.

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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Carefreeap » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:25 pm

coulombre wrote:I'm from Massachusetts and a former landlord. MA is a very, very pro-tenant state.

Unless you've followed very specific laws and regulations on security deposits, including keeping them in a separate, interest bearing account, paying the interest annually to the tenant, and giving the tenant written notice of where the interest bearing account is on deposit.

The landlord must also provide a new tenant with a written statement of condition and allow the tenant to add additional comments.

If the landlord does not follow their obligations they are unable to keep the security deposit for any reason. If the landlord does keep the security deposit despite not following the laws, the landlord is liable for triple damages, costs, attorney's fees and interest.

And MA regulations say that a carpet may have moderate wear and spotting, and that is considered normal wear and tear.

I mention all this because I imagine California is just a protective of tenants as Massachusetts. Unless you have followed all landlord requirements, you're entering dangerous waters.

As others have suggested, for a good tenant I'd just eat this one. The are both arguable charges. Carpets get dirty. Old microwave ovens wear out and break. Be thankful that's all you have to deal with.
Most of CA doesn't require interest paying accounts but some cities do like San Francisco. So far San Diego's only nod to rent control is that a landlord is supposed to continue to rent to the same tenant unless there is "just cause". Right now that's easy enough to get around since there's no restriction on raising rent other than the State's requirement to give tenants who have lived in the unit for 1 year or more 60 days notice to raise the rent by 10% or more or to terminate the tenancy.

What CA is big on is the 21 day to account for the tenant's deposit once the tenant has vacated. That can be a challenge if you are dealing with more serious repairs.

Also the LL can not charge for his/her labor. More than once I've split the cost of simple repairs with the tenant by having them pay for the materials while I performed the labor.

I've tried very hard to be a good landlord. Most of my tenants have been good and respectful. One was so tidy that after a year of living in the unit I didn't even need to paint the hallway! That was a first. I've had a couple of losers who took out bad things that happened to them out on me. Knock on my wooden head the worst damage was replacing most of the carpet in an 1800 sq.ft. condo because my tenant's wife left him and his teenage son was a pig; spilled Coke, never wiped his shoes and never vacuumed in over a year. It was an expensive wool carpet that should have lasted 20 years.

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Rob5TCP
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Rob5TCP » Mon Jun 12, 2017 4:33 pm

I would let it go.
My current tenant is constantly two months late on rent (going on 5 years now) - but is consistent on paying exactly 60 days late.
My prior tenant, BROKE the toilet, left bedbugs for me to fumigate, stole the new refrigerator I bought, damaged the microwave (though it was old and needed replacing) and was untraceable afterwards.
I let small things go by, even the 60 days late. She is 100x better than my prior tenant and I would do anything to avoid another tenant from hell.

ralph124cf
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by ralph124cf » Mon Jun 12, 2017 8:35 pm

Nest time you replace the carpet, get a darker color and a pattern that makes it harder to see stains.

Ralph

Tal-
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by Tal- » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:23 pm

Landlord with more than half-a-dozen rentals.

The carpet is a pretty clear if/then. If the lease specifies that they will pay for it, then the outcome is clear. If the lease is silent on this, giving the carpets a deep clean would be expected as normal use, and I feel strongly that you should not charge for it.

Be careful on the microwave. The maximum that you can charge for a broken microwave (assuming they acted in a way to break it before end-of-life) is the cost of a 10-year old microwave - NOT the cost of a $125 plastic piece. What is the market value of a 10-year old microwave??? And, all of this is assuming that the 10-year old microwave broke due to some fault of the tenant. So, maybe you could charge for it and maybe you could get away with it - but that's not what I would do, doesn't feel ethically sound, and runs the risk of being way more hassle than it's worth if you piss off an otherwise good tenant of 4 years. If I'm the tenant, I'm taking you small claims court for $125 (on principle) and I'm 80% confident that I win.

Just my two cents.
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by dublin » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:35 pm

Tal- wrote:Landlord with more than half-a-dozen rentals.

The carpet is a pretty clear if/then. If the lease specifies that they will pay for it, then the outcome is clear. If the lease is silent on this, giving the carpets a deep clean would be expected as normal use, and I feel strongly that you should not charge for it.

Be careful on the microwave. The maximum that you can charge for a broken microwave (assuming they acted in a way to break it before end-of-life) is the cost of a 10-year old microwave - NOT the cost of a $125 plastic piece. What is the market value of a 10-year old microwave??? And, all of this is assuming that the 10-year old microwave broke due to some fault of the tenant. So, maybe you could charge for it and maybe you could get away with it - but that's not what I would do, doesn't feel ethically sound, and runs the risk of being way more hassle than it's worth if you piss off an otherwise good tenant of 4 years. If I'm the tenant, I'm taking you small claims court for $125 (on principle) and I'm 80% confident that I win.

Just my two cents.
+1

I'm about to be the tenant on the other side of this situation. We've been great tenants for the last two years, pay on time every time, take care of lots of repairs and such ourselves, etc. Our landlord is the ultimate nickel-and-dimer and has been incredibly unhelpful throughout our tenancy, and you better believe I'll tie her up in small claims court if she tries to hold onto one red cent of our security deposit when we leave.

runner540
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Re: Rental Property Repairs - Whose to Pay?

Post by runner540 » Tue Jun 13, 2017 6:38 am

I've rented from both large corporate management cos/buildings and individuals. I agree that if carpet cleaning is mentioned in the lease, just follow the lease. Otherwise, that's part of the landlord's cost to turnover the property. A 10 year old microwave? Charging a good tenant, who happened to be the one it broke on, seems like bad karma. Can you try it, probably. But why would you? Doesn't seem to match OP's "classy" name. Replacing appliances is a cost of doing business (in the US).

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