Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

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Bongleur
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Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Bongleur » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am

Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
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drk
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by drk » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:30 am

It sounds like you don’t understand the purpose of a security deposit. It’s for damage beyond normal wear-and-tear. The rent and your depreciation cover the general touch-ups needed.

CurlyDave
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by CurlyDave » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:40 am

I keep only that part of the security deposit which represents mitigation of damage (not normal wear and tear) in the unit.

For instance, if a tenant damages the carpet to the point where it must be replaced, I charge him for the cost of new carpet minus the depreciation which would normally happen. Example: I put new carpet in a unit and a tenant stays for two years, but his dog has ruined the carpet. Normally the grade of carpet I install lasts 5 years. When I replace the carpet I only charge him for 60% of the cost of the new carpet, 40% of the cost was "normal wear and tear."

I also plan for repainting on a 5 year schedule. But, if I can get by with just retouching the paint in the unit I charge the tenant for hole patching and retouching.

I have never had a tenant take me to court over this policy. About half of the time tenants feel that this is a very fair policy, and the other half feel they should not be charged anything even if their dog has eaten the carpet and their toddler has pooped in all the closets.

crossbow
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by crossbow » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:19 am

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
General legalities are that you cannot use the security deposit for "freshen ups".

mchampse
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by mchampse » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:27 am

My parents were property managers and at one point were managing 1000s of apartments. There would literally have to be holes in the wall for them to keep a portion of the security deposit. In their jurisdiction you had to give 60 days notice when vacating. If someone gave 2 days notice they would still give back the security deposit.

If someone’s kid used crayons on the wall..well you were going to paint anyway so what difference does it make? Whether you get a days notice or a months notice, you were going to keep the unit empty for at least a month fixing up the place regardless.

quantAndHold
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by quantAndHold » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:36 am

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
No, because that wouldn’t be legal. You don’t get to charge the tenant for normal wear and tear. Nothing in the place will have an infinite lifespan, and you can’t charge the tenant for something that’s just gotten old. Something that needs to be “freshened up” is probably normal wear and tear.

I did have to charge a guy who ripped the bathroom sink off the wall, though. That wasn’t normal.

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Bongleur
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Bongleur » Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:46 am

So the PM needs to be informing me of the grade/lifespan of the carpet & paint being used.
Good to know.

OTOH I read a comment from an owner on BH saying that his lease specified leaving it in "move in conditon."
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by JediMisty » Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:13 am

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:46 am
So the PM needs to be informing me of the grade/lifespan of the carpet & paint being used.
Good to know.

OTOH I read a comment from an owner on BH saying that his lease specified leaving it in "move in conditon."
In NJ, a landlord cannot (legally) require a tenant to leave a property in "move in condition". The standard is "broom clean", which allows for normal wear and tear. Replacing light bulbs, touching up or repainting, etc are all inclusive of a landlord's normal requirements between tenants and cannot legally be charged from the security deposit.

DVMResident
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by DVMResident » Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:52 am

This is a legal question with high variation between local laws and regulations. I recommend reading NOLO state specific legal references.

To answer your question, I followed my local laws. In My justification means doing repairs within 21 days and returning the remaining SD. Personally, I let small stuff slide and I was mostly returning full SD and generally within a day or 2 of the move out (just the right thing to do as tenants moving are often strapped for cash). In one case the damage was extensive enough enough, I sent a partial SD and held an an amount for the a formal repair estimate and returned residual as soon as the repairs were complete/invoiced (as per local laws).

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:09 am

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
1
Depends on local code and structure of your lease agreement.

In some areas, the "Security Deposit" is seperate from a non-refundable "cleaning/repair" fee.

In other areas, the "Security Deposit" can be a maximum of no more than 1 month's rent.

And on and on.
What is in your lease agreement as far as allowable deductions from the Security Deposit?
The National Association of Realtor's Rental Lease Agreement has some standardization but I don't know what is in yours.

2
It is better to be able to verify with hardcopy the deductions you make from a Security Deposit Return.
Itemize: General Cleaning, Painting, Repairs, Etc.

3
Hopefully. . . . you have "Inventory Check-In" and Inventory Check-Out" sheets dated and signed by the tenant and yourself when you did the "Pre Move In Inventory Inspection" and "Post Move Out Inventory Inspection". This avoids any subjective condition disagreements. IE: I think it's clean. No. . . 100 burned pizzas in the oven is not clean.

4
Allowance for "normal wear and tear" is highly subjective, and is a term used liberally in many rental contracts. Thus the importance of #3. *** Every State Is Different in this area. Know the code and standards for your area and apply them.

5
It is unreasonable to expect a tenant to restore a unit to "move in" condition such that the unit can immediately be rented out. It would be nice to strive for this but it depends on how long the tenant has occupied the unit, children or not, and so forth. And, normally, it does not work out very well to expect a tenant to repaint a unit unless you want to have to do it again correctly.

*My suggestion is to err on the side of the tenant (not worth the hassle) and deduct what you must with proper documentation of materials and labor, and return the security deposit within the legal time required. Sooner the better.

*Many landlords use Security Deposits as a "piggy bank" to tap into or as leverage. It's better to be as fair as possible as most tenants need the security deposit return to get into their next dwelling.

*If you don't have #3 above, I reccommend that you do.
In every area there is a standard or normally accepted format. Make it as professional and detailed as possible without being nit-picky. And, use it with every tenant move in and move out. BTW: the inventory check out can be scheduled a week or two before the actual move out so the tenant has time to clean the oven that has baked 100 pizzas and never cleaned.

All of the above depends on; individual landlord practices (what I do, what you do), local code and law and acceptable practices, and the construction of your lease agreement, as well as any verbal or addendum agreements you may have had with the tenant.
Good luck,
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ddurrett896
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by ddurrett896 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:30 am

I don't nickel and dime my tenants, especially if they are good.

The only thing I require is that they clean the carpet which I have deducted from the deposit.

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8foot7
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by 8foot7 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:37 am

When I rented in NC the units were generally repainted after each tenant as part of refresh/prep for move-in for the next tenant and that was considered general wear and tear, so normal nail holes for pictures and pinholes for posters were generally not charged to the deposit. Large holes requiring putty and drywall repair were charged.

Minor carpet stains or discoloration were also considered cost of having people live in your place, although pet urine and large stains in visible areas were considered damage. We requested that the tenants do a professional carpet clean and provide receipts; if they did that we generally looked the other way at the carpet condition unless there were major issues, since we would pay out of pocket for carpet clean as part of prep for new tenant. (Some tenants chose not to and also left the carpet in fine condition and we did not deduct; they called our bluff well but we could not find a reason to charge our cost to them) We did the 5 year carpet and also documented when the carpet was last changed so even if the tenant left stains that could be chargeable, if the carpet was due for replacement we did not deduct.

I know some landlords think every little nick and scratch is something that the tenant should pay for, but that’s double dipping as far as I’m concerned. The tenant is consuming your house/place and paying for that consumption and presumably the landlord is taking depreciation benefits from the consumption of the house. Even in our nice family home we scratch things occasionally, drop things, accidentally mark a wall, etc. Life happens and that’s not damage; that’s living in a place, and if you landlord you need to have a thicker skin for that in order to succeed.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Kennedy » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:38 am

JediMisty wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:13 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:46 am
So the PM needs to be informing me of the grade/lifespan of the carpet & paint being used.
Good to know.

OTOH I read a comment from an owner on BH saying that his lease specified leaving it in "move in conditon."
In NJ, a landlord cannot (legally) require a tenant to leave a property in "move in condition". The standard is "broom clean", which allows for normal wear and tear. Replacing light bulbs, touching up or repainting, etc are all inclusive of a landlord's normal requirements between tenants and cannot legally be charged from the security deposit.
Just a minor point, but tenants are responsible for replacing any burned out light bulbs as long as the bulbs were all in working order when they moved in.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Sandtrap » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:41 am

8foot7 wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:37 am
When I rented in NC the units were generally repainted after each tenant as part of refresh/prep for move-in for the next tenant and that was considered general wear and tear, so normal nail holes for pictures and pinholes for posters were generally not charged to the deposit. Large holes requiring putty and drywall repair were charged.

Minor carpet stains or discoloration were also considered cost of having people live in your place, although pet urine and large stains in visible areas were considered damage. We requested that the tenants do a professional carpet clean and provide receipts; if they did that we generally looked the other way at the carpet condition unless there were major issues, since we would pay out of pocket for carpet clean as part of prep for new tenant. (Some tenants chose not to and also left the carpet in fine condition and we did not deduct; they called our bluff well but we could not find a reason to charge our cost to them) We did the 5 year carpet and also documented when the carpet was last changed so even if the tenant left stains that could be chargeable, if the carpet was due for replacement we did not deduct.

I know some landlords think every little nick and scratch is something that the tenant should pay for, but that’s double dipping as far as I’m concerned. The tenant is consuming your house/place and paying for that consumption and presumably the landlord is taking depreciation benefits from the consumption of the house. Even in our nice family home we scratch things occasionally, drop things, accidentally mark a wall, etc. Life happens and that’s not damage; that’s living in a place, and if you landlord you need to have a thicker skin for that in order to succeed.
+1
Outstanding!
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8foot7
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by 8foot7 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:42 am

Kennedy wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:38 am
JediMisty wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 6:13 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:46 am
So the PM needs to be informing me of the grade/lifespan of the carpet & paint being used.
Good to know.

OTOH I read a comment from an owner on BH saying that his lease specified leaving it in "move in conditon."
In NJ, a landlord cannot (legally) require a tenant to leave a property in "move in condition". The standard is "broom clean", which allows for normal wear and tear. Replacing light bulbs, touching up or repainting, etc are all inclusive of a landlord's normal requirements between tenants and cannot legally be charged from the security deposit.
Just a minor point, but tenants are responsible for replacing any burned out light bulbs as long as the bulbs were all in working order when they moved in.
We had several hard to reach recessed lights and we did not expect the renter to change them. I can’t think of a single time we charged a renter for a light bulb. Just seems tacky.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Filetmerlot » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:22 am

I had a 2 guys as tenants once that were really good tenants. One of them wanted to move out at the end of the lease to move in with his girlfriend while the other one wanted to stay. While he was moving out he bumped the wall with the leg of the couch - probably the result of something like "turn it this way, no the other way, no that way not this way....." while they were moving it around a corner in the hall. He told me about it and I went and looked at it. he offered to pay for repairs, so I got a small piece of wallboard from home depot took some spackle and a couple of drywall screws and fixed it myself for $10 in 30 minutes. I gave him his entire deposit back since in general the place was always in good shape.

I figure if it was something I could easily fix inexpensively without getting a professional involved it wasn't worth it to charge the tenant. I was putting it on my expense list anyway at tax time.

SmallSaver
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by SmallSaver » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:27 am

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
Keeping the security deposit "as a matter of course" is unethical and almost certainly illegal.

DarkHelmetII
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by DarkHelmetII » Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:36 am

I have a management company that gives me an explicit breakdown of normal wear and tear (e.g. landlord responsibility) vs. tenant responsibility. Two turnovers and have not had any major issues (one tenant complained a little but was clear contractually what they owed and certainly there were no taking of anybody to court).

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by buhlaxtus » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:07 am

SmallSaver wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:27 am
Keeping the security deposit "as a matter of course" is unethical and almost certainly illegal.
This. It sounds like your property manager is doing things right. You should read up on the relevant laws in your state.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by WhyNotUs » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:17 am

Important
Google- "your state"+ Tenant rights
Read carefully and comply

Also, if you are in a City, google for local tenant laws as well.
I own the next hot stock- VTSAX

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by TomatoTomahto » Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:26 am

SmallSaver wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:27 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?
My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.
Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
Keeping the security deposit "as a matter of course" is unethical and almost certainly illegal.
Years ago, I lived in a large apartment complex. My security deposit was not returned to me, and a mailing said if I disagreed, I could attend Court on a particular date. I attended. In court, a clerk read off the name of other tenants (who also presumably had their security not returned), most of the tenants had not come to Court, and summary judgment was issued against them. Whenever a tenant had bothered to appear, the landlord didn’t contest it, and the tenant had the security deposit returned. This was a clear scam, but apparently how they did it in NJ back then.
Okay, I get it; I won't be political or controversial. The Earth is flat.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by mervinj7 » Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 pm

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:46 am
So the PM needs to be informing me of the grade/lifespan of the carpet & paint being used.
Good to know.

OTOH I read a comment from an owner on BH saying that his lease specified leaving it in "move in conditon."
I'm a landlord as well and I would strongly recommend as others have done that you read up on your local jurisdictions tenant's rights.
Here's the one I used for my state: https://store.nolo.com/products/the-cal ... -lbrt.html

Did the tenants cause damage beyond normal wear and tear? If not, what recourse would you have to claim part of their security deposit for replacing the carpet?

For a legal example, here's the CA court's interpretation of a security deposit.
A landlord can deduct from the tenant’s security deposit:

The cost of fixing any damages to the property caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests. This does not include ordinary wear and tear.
The cost of cleaning the unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in (less reasonable wear and tear).
Unpaid rent (including rent owed if the tenant does not give the landlord the proper notice that he or she is moving out).
The landlord can withhold from the security deposit ONLY those amounts that are necessary and reasonable, and NOT a result of “ordinary and reasonable wear and tear." For example, a landlord may not make tenants pay for painting, new carpets, or curtains unless they are damaged beyond ordinary and reasonable wear and tear. And the landlord cannot use the tenant’s security deposit to repair problems that existed in the unit before the tenant moved in.

Source: https://www.courts.ca.gov/1049.htm

IMO
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by IMO » Thu Jun 27, 2019 1:23 pm

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:46 am
So the PM needs to be informing me of the grade/lifespan of the carpet & paint being used.
Good to know.

OTOH I read a comment from an owner on BH saying that his lease specified leaving it in "move in conditon."
People have posted good responses.

But on your issue that your PM needs to inform you of the grade/lifespan of carpet and paint is really not a relevant question or issue.

As a property owner, you'll need to determine what level of flooring / paint (and others) you will be utilizing.

You'll quickly learn, carpet gets dirty from "normal wear/tear" and quality helps, but doesn't eliminate wear/tear that may or may not be acceptable to the next renter. That is why things like Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVP) are seen as a very good flooring over carpeting to utilize for rental properties. Paint qualities are different, but it is not uncommon to repaint walls with tenant turnover. For example, for most non water vapor exposed walls, I personally choose flat paints which don't wear as well, but are quicker with less prep than gloss paints. I do this because touch ups for picture nail holes/etc are hard to match and start looking tacky when touched up.

Your version of what's reasonable wear and tear will likely be different than a tenant's and likely the judge in a small claims court if you tried to be overly strict on what is or isn't reasonable wear and tear.

Obviously, a goal is to have good tenants and little turnover.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Spirit Rider » Thu Jun 27, 2019 7:50 pm

In most states even if you have to repair/replace items, you can only claim the depreciated value of the repair/replacement. For example, most states use a 10-year depreciation schedule for carpet. If the carpet will be five years old by the end of the lease, you can only charge 50% of the cost to replace the carpet. If it has been >= 10 years you can not charge anything for carpet replacement, even if the tenet literally destroyed the carpet. Not that rental carpet often lasts more than ten years.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by rascott » Thu Jun 27, 2019 10:16 pm

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
I've kept maybe a few hundred dollars total over 15 years of landlording several properties.

I think you seriously misunderstand what a SD is used for.

Freshen ups are expenses as part of your business. Not costs that tenants pay for in addition to their rent.

A security deposit only should be used in cases of significant damage to a unit.

MrsBDG
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by MrsBDG » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:13 am

I did charge tenants for light bulbs once. They had 16 burned out bulbs and, since I am a remote LL, I had to pay the local handyman to check every fixture, drive to the hardware store, buy the bulbs and replace them. 1-2-3 light bulbs, no, but 16 in easily reached fixtures was too much.

These same tenants signed a pet addendum to the lease about pet damage, but I still could not charge for the pet ruined carpet as it was 7 years old and that's the limit in CA.

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Bongleur
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Bongleur » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:33 am

Good stuff. I guess I need to get the PM to send me the move-out checklist, and if they are not using one, find out why.
PM says tenant had carpets cleaned & they look OK except for the one area that's old anyway.
??? NOLO ???

New tenant hoped I could get neighbor to clean up their yard so they don't have to call the health dept -- turns out neighbor has naturalized their yard with tall wildflowers that attract pollinators. Looks fabulous to me. City folk maybe ?
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by CurlyDave » Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:52 am

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:46 am
So the PM needs to be informing me of the grade/lifespan of the carpet & paint being used.
Good to know...
I agree with the comment that these things are not relevant to the specific question here, but they are very relevant to your long-term success in the rental business.

The very few times I have had a property manager involved they always made these choices to maximize their advantage, not mine.
The best paint covers better and goes on easier saving on labor. OTOH, rental unit carpet usually gets too stained to clean before it wears out. The cheapest pile carpet is fine. Save the scraps from a new install for repair of small disasters.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by travellight » Fri Jun 28, 2019 2:20 am

MrsBDG wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:13 am
I did charge tenants for light bulbs once. They had 16 burned out bulbs and, since I am a remote LL, I had to pay the local handyman to check every fixture, drive to the hardware store, buy the bulbs and replace them. 1-2-3 light bulbs, no, but 16 in easily reached fixtures was too much.

These same tenants signed a pet addendum to the lease about pet damage, but I still could not charge for the pet ruined carpet as it was 7 years old and that's the limit in CA.
How much did you charge them? A fixed amount per light bulb?
364

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by bberris » Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:26 am

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
My son collected treble damages from his landlord in addition to the security deposit because it was withheld. As a matter of course.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Sandtrap » Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:28 am

bberris wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:26 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
My son collected treble damages from his landlord in addition to the security deposit because it was withheld. As a matter of course.
Yes.
If I remember right, likely not, this clause is in the National Association of Realtors standard leasing contract as well as many others used by professional property managment firms.
I have neer seen it contested by a landlord in court and I have been there all too often as a landlord.

Much like the latest version of the UBC is like a "Bible" to builders general contractors, and developers -- such is the "Landlord Tenant Code" (local/region/state) to the rental industry. It pays to be as professional as one can.

(Disclaimer:Of course there are so many ways that people do these things and they end up fine. . . . YMMV)
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bberris
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by bberris » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:43 am

Sandtrap wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:28 am
bberris wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:26 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
My son collected treble damages from his landlord in addition to the security deposit because it was withheld. As a matter of course.
Yes.
If I remember right, likely not, this clause is in the National Association of Realtors standard leasing contract as well as many others used by professional property managment firms.
I have neer seen it contested by a landlord in court and I have been there all too often as a landlord.

Much like the latest version of the UBC is like a "Bible" to builders general contractors, and developers -- such is the "Landlord Tenant Code" (local/region/state) to the rental industry. It pays to be as professional as one can.

(Disclaimer:Of course there are so many ways that people do these things and they end up fine. . . . YMMV)
j
My son went to small claims court. The landlord made a fool of himself.

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dm200
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by dm200 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:49 am

drk wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:30 am
It sounds like you don’t understand the purpose of a security deposit. It’s for damage beyond normal wear-and-tear. The rent and your depreciation cover the general touch-ups needed.
Yes!

Depending on the jurisdiction, there may be specific rules/regs to that effect.

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dm200
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by dm200 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:51 am

MrsBDG wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:13 am
I did charge tenants for light bulbs once. They had 16 burned out bulbs and, since I am a remote LL, I had to pay the local handyman to check every fixture, drive to the hardware store, buy the bulbs and replace them. 1-2-3 light bulbs, no, but 16 in easily reached fixtures was too much.
These same tenants signed a pet addendum to the lease about pet damage, but I still could not charge for the pet ruined carpet as it was 7 years old and that's the limit in CA.
Regular light bulbs are/were not that expensive. Now, though, with the required energy saving bulbs - the cost can add up.

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Sandtrap
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Sandtrap » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:53 am

bberris wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:43 am
Sandtrap wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 7:28 am
bberris wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:26 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
My son collected treble damages from his landlord in addition to the security deposit because it was withheld. As a matter of course.
Yes.
If I remember right, likely not, this clause is in the National Association of Realtors standard leasing contract as well as many others used by professional property managment firms.
I have neer seen it contested by a landlord in court and I have been there all too often as a landlord.

Much like the latest version of the UBC is like a "Bible" to builders general contractors, and developers -- such is the "Landlord Tenant Code" (local/region/state) to the rental industry. It pays to be as professional as one can.

(Disclaimer:Of course there are so many ways that people do these things and they end up fine. . . . YMMV)
j
My son went to small claims court. The landlord made a fool of himself.
I'm glad that worked out well. Too bad he had to go all the way to small claims court to get it resolved.
Yes.
I have been on the receiving end of the stupidity and foolishness (mostly ego) of resident managers, staff, etc, who have dealt with tenants wrongly. As the owner, I end up sitting in court or settling out of, or paying hefty fees for legal counsel. And, have sat in small claims court witnessing cases like you describe. (It is not like TV's Judge Judy!)
As this longish thread shows, the rental property business is not for everyone unless they are willing to wade slowly through a floating mine-field once in awhile.

It just goes with the business, like any business.
Every owner is different.
Every customer is different.

j
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abyan
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by abyan » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:12 am

I don't mean to be dismissive, but you should consider yourself fortunate that your tenants only had freshen up issues. Mine gouged my floor, broke a window (and had no idea it was broken!), broke the key off in the door and didn't tell me (again, who knew it was even there?!), destroyed the carpet, oh and cut a huge hole in my HVAC duct (open duct work in a loft). And the management company, which sucked, suggested I only charge them $800 because in DC where I live the tenant almost always wins if they challenge you. Consider yourself extremely lucky. And as others have said, you don't et to charge them to freshen up. In DC, in fact, landlords have to repaint for EVERY new tenant. So make sure you check the local law before charging them for anything.

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dm200
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by dm200 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:17 am

abyan wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:12 am
I don't mean to be dismissive, but you should consider yourself fortunate that your tenants only had freshen up issues. Mine gouged my floor, broke a window (and had no idea it was broken!), broke the key off in the door and didn't tell me (again, who knew it was even there?!), destroyed the carpet, oh and cut a huge hole in my HVAC duct (open duct work in a loft). And the management company, which sucked, suggested I only charge them $800 because in DC where I live the tenant almost always wins if they challenge you. Consider yourself extremely lucky. And as others have said, you don't et to charge them to freshen up. In DC, in fact, landlords have to repaint for EVERY new tenant. So make sure you check the local law before charging them for anything.
Yes - I believe repainting for every tenant is a common (but not universal) requirement. If not repainted, then I would make 100% sure to review any paint issues (and reach agreement) between landlord and tenant.

Years ago, as a renter of single family homes, the landlord never kept any of the security deposit. It came close one time when the landlord was very fussy (too fussy IMO) about the grass being cut, etc. and some kitchen cupboard paint needing to be retouched. I complied to the landlord's satisfaction and got the security deposit back.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by MrsBDG » Fri Jun 28, 2019 11:45 am

MrsBDG wrote: ↑Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:13 am
I did charge tenants for light bulbs once. They had 16 burned out bulbs and, since I am a remote LL, I had to pay the local handyman to check every fixture, drive to the hardware store, buy the bulbs and replace them. 1-2-3 light bulbs, no, but 16 in easily reached fixtures was too much.

These same tenants signed a pet addendum to the lease about pet damage, but I still could not charge for the pet ruined carpet as it was 7 years old and that's the limit in CA.
How much did you charge them? A fixed amount per light bulb?
It was the actual cost of the bulbs and the labor. It would have been a very small expense had they simply changed them as they burned out over the time they were there. Just as with the carpet, I checked with a realtor and did some Google research, only charging for items that were appropriate. To me, charging for light bulbs felt like nickel and diming them, until I got the bill from the handyman. You don't really think about how much time it takes until someone charges you for the time. These are the people who let their little tiny dog pee all over the carpet throughout the entire house, but it no longer had any value per the state of CA; I was not inclined to cut them any slack for the little things.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by KyleAAA » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:11 pm

Laws differ by state and municipalities, so you should consult a lawyer. But in general, it is never okay to withhold a part of a security deposit for freshening up or normal wear & tear. It is illegal to do so in many places.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by FelixTheCat » Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:19 pm

I don't charge for normal wear and tear. Fixing up my property is my responsibility.

I do charge a tenant if they knowingly caused damage. For example, I had a tenant that violated our written agreement to water the lawn. That tenant paid for a new lawn.
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by PeterParker » Fri Jun 28, 2019 1:24 pm

The question is do you want a lawsuit and small claims BS over what probably amounts to < $100?

In most cases, you do a walk through. If there's anything actually "broken" -- light fixtures, appliances, major destruction --- you itemize those and retain that of the deposit and notify the tenant.

"Lightbulbs" -- yes in most cases these are considered a "consumptive" item, though my last two apartments, both had expensive "flood light" bulbs which are quite annoying especially if 1 is burned out, what am I going to do, buy a 6 pack as I'm leaving?

In my case, I moved in with 4/ 6 working, bought one pack, if two burn out before I leave, so be it. One of those things where you have to not be an A-hole and have give-and-take with the landlord so everyone wins. You're not necessary enemies, landlord and tenant ... work together.

But yeah, in most cases, the security deposit is the opposite of your idea. It's a "matter of course" to return it, unless there are obvious, strong, solid significant legal reasons not to. We're talking major damage.

To be honest even holes in the wall --- I've seen those coming, and going, the landlord obviously spackles them back up. It would be nice if the tenant did. No one gets charged for it, unless it's a vindictive penny pinching landlord, and such a guy is usually not financially savvy to begin with if he's chasing people for wall holes. >I< personally don't make wall holes.

So what is a landlord to do? You have a few options.

1. Charge a higher application fee to grease the wheels that way.

2. Specify openly before lease signature that the security deposit is not a full month's rent --- it's only 1/3rd the rent, but not refundable ( this is common in Chicago). This is a gamble --- you make more off zero-minor destruction tenants, but expose yourself if you happen to lease to "real whopper" of a tenant.

3. Increase the rent ever slightly to account for the fact that every 2-4 years you need to freshen up the place.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Jun 28, 2019 4:26 pm

Bongleur wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:33 am
New tenant hoped I could get neighbor to clean up their yard so they don't have to call the health dept -- turns out neighbor has naturalized their yard with tall wildflowers that attract pollinators. Looks fabulous to me. City folk maybe ?
Indeed. If the tenant thinks wildflowers are a problem, stay out of it. Let them call the health department themselves. Around here, the city gives people free money to get them to plant stuff like that.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by Trader Joe » Fri Jun 28, 2019 4:36 pm

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
If the property owner/manager tries to keep the deposit when there is nothing involved more than normal wear and tear, you should sue them in Small Claims Court. Take pictures. Document the rent/lease start date and the end date. You will win. I will tell you that the court has zero patience for unscrupulous property managers.

Also, spread the word about the property manager on the internet. They give everyone a bad name.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by vested1 » Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:13 pm

TomatoTomahto wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:26 am
SmallSaver wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:27 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?
My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.
Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
Keeping the security deposit "as a matter of course" is unethical and almost certainly illegal.
Years ago, I lived in a large apartment complex. My security deposit was not returned to me, and a mailing said if I disagreed, I could attend Court on a particular date. I attended. In court, a clerk read off the name of other tenants (who also presumably had their security not returned), most of the tenants had not come to Court, and summary judgment was issued against them. Whenever a tenant had bothered to appear, the landlord didn’t contest it, and the tenant had the security deposit returned. This was a clear scam, but apparently how they did it in NJ back then.
When I was a lad in my early 20's I rented a studio that was partially furnished. When it came time to move on I gave proper notice and informed the landlord that the studio was ready for final inspection so I could get my security deposit back. He said he was too busy, and to leave the key inside the studio. He said he would stop by later to inspect it, after which he would refund my deposit.

He called me later and told me that several of his items were missing, which magically added up to the exact amount of my security deposit. When I told him those items were there when I left he mocked me and asked me to prove it. Instead I called the city code enforcement department and reported numerous violations, which were common throughout his rentals in that location. The city shut him down and he ended up losing the property. I stopped by his house months later and let him know it was me who turned him in, and asked him if it was worth the $200 he had swindled me out of.

It's always a good policy to do business honestly, because doing otherwise has a way of coming back to bite you in the end.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by JGoneRiding » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:43 pm

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 3:46 am
So the PM needs to be informing me of the grade/lifespan of the carpet & paint being used.
Good to know.

OTOH I read a comment from an owner on BH saying that his lease specified leaving it in "move in conditon."
I very specifically list out damages and costs for each. I have and do charge for uncleanliness and holes and a toilet seat! But I have never had any one say I was unfair. I tell them all my goal is to return it in full! I might be 2 generous.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by JGoneRiding » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:01 pm

dm200 wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:51 am
MrsBDG wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 12:13 am
I did charge tenants for light bulbs once. They had 16 burned out bulbs and, since I am a remote LL, I had to pay the local handyman to check every fixture, drive to the hardware store, buy the bulbs and replace them. 1-2-3 light bulbs, no, but 16 in easily reached fixtures was too much.
These same tenants signed a pet addendum to the lease about pet damage, but I still could not charge for the pet ruined carpet as it was 7 years old and that's the limit in CA.
Regular light bulbs are/were not that expensive. Now, though, with the required energy saving bulbs - the cost can add up.
Yeah I too have charged for light bulbs! And when I had to replace every single smoke detector battery after hunting them down (they had taken about half of them down) I charged for that too. But since I am hands on not for putting them in

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by criticalmass » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:46 pm

Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?

My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.

Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
Yes, there are a lot of laws in every state and DC that regulate what you can do with security deposits. It's not a slush fund for freshening up or updating or dealing with normal wear and tear.

It is for damages unless your state allows any other purpose.

Be prepared with receipts (sweat equity for work done yourself generally doesn't count).

Playing games with not returning security repairs absent bona fide documented damage repair (not wear and tear) leads many a bad landlord into paying damages or triple disputed amounts plus court costs plus the tenants' attorney fees to the tenant.

Proceed widely and seek legal advice for any suspect issues with security deposits.

This is also a good reminder to tenants to fully understand their full legal rights in the locality that they are in.

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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by criticalmass » Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:49 pm

vested1 wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:13 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:26 am
SmallSaver wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:27 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?
My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.
Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
Keeping the security deposit "as a matter of course" is unethical and almost certainly illegal.
Years ago, I lived in a large apartment complex. My security deposit was not returned to me, and a mailing said if I disagreed, I could attend Court on a particular date. I attended. In court, a clerk read off the name of other tenants (who also presumably had their security not returned), most of the tenants had not come to Court, and summary judgment was issued against them. Whenever a tenant had bothered to appear, the landlord didn’t contest it, and the tenant had the security deposit returned. This was a clear scam, but apparently how they did it in NJ back then.
When I was a lad in my early 20's I rented a studio that was partially furnished. When it came time to move on I gave proper notice and informed the landlord that the studio was ready for final inspection so I could get my security deposit back. He said he was too busy, and to leave the key inside the studio. He said he would stop by later to inspect it, after which he would refund my deposit.

He called me later and told me that several of his items were missing, which magically added up to the exact amount of my security deposit. When I told him those items were there when I left he mocked me and asked me to prove it. Instead I called the city code enforcement department and reported numerous violations, which were common throughout his rentals in that location. The city shut him down and he ended up losing the property. I stopped by his house months later and let him know it was me who turned him in, and asked him if it was worth the $200 he had swindled me out of.

It's always a good policy to do business honestly, because doing otherwise has a way of coming back to bite you in the end.
Great story! Many tenants don't know how to deal with a dishonest landlord, so he likely pulled that scam many times prior.

I'm curious what his response was.

vested1
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by vested1 » Sat Jun 29, 2019 6:48 am

criticalmass wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 9:49 pm
vested1 wrote:
Fri Jun 28, 2019 5:13 pm
TomatoTomahto wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 9:26 am
SmallSaver wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:27 am
Bongleur wrote:
Thu Jun 27, 2019 12:27 am
Do you keep the security deposit as a matter of course, for paying for fixing the place up again?
or do you calculate & estimate the costs and only retain that much?
My prop mgmt agent says she wants to return it all -- and yet she has a list of "freshen ups" that will cost money.
Are there any general legalities that need to be observed regarding keeping the deposit?
Keeping the security deposit "as a matter of course" is unethical and almost certainly illegal.
Years ago, I lived in a large apartment complex. My security deposit was not returned to me, and a mailing said if I disagreed, I could attend Court on a particular date. I attended. In court, a clerk read off the name of other tenants (who also presumably had their security not returned), most of the tenants had not come to Court, and summary judgment was issued against them. Whenever a tenant had bothered to appear, the landlord didn’t contest it, and the tenant had the security deposit returned. This was a clear scam, but apparently how they did it in NJ back then.
When I was a lad in my early 20's I rented a studio that was partially furnished. When it came time to move on I gave proper notice and informed the landlord that the studio was ready for final inspection so I could get my security deposit back. He said he was too busy, and to leave the key inside the studio. He said he would stop by later to inspect it, after which he would refund my deposit.

He called me later and told me that several of his items were missing, which magically added up to the exact amount of my security deposit. When I told him those items were there when I left he mocked me and asked me to prove it. Instead I called the city code enforcement department and reported numerous violations, which were common throughout his rentals in that location. The city shut him down and he ended up losing the property. I stopped by his house months later and let him know it was me who turned him in, and asked him if it was worth the $200 he had swindled me out of.

It's always a good policy to do business honestly, because doing otherwise has a way of coming back to bite you in the end.
Great story! Many tenants don't know how to deal with a dishonest landlord, so he likely pulled that scam many times prior.

I'm curious what his response was.
His response was a speechless slack jawed expression as I turned on my heel and walked to my car. I never heard from him again, but while relating this story years later I ran into someone who was robbed in exactly the same way by the same landlord. I let them know that justice had been served.

ryanpj
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Re: Landlords - assessing amount security deposit to return?

Post by ryanpj » Sat Jun 29, 2019 10:27 am

In my opinion you should not be charging your tenants for small cosmetic things that could be considered normal wear and tear. Especially if you have strong local laws that protect tenants. When I moved out of my apartment in Boston, my landlord tried to charge me 300 dollars for the cleaning crew he sent out without inspecting the house prior first. I disputed it with him and he initially resisted until I sent him the relevant quote from Massachusetts state law and that in Mass, tenants are allowed to recover triple damages from landlords when they improperly withhold security deposits. I got my money back pretty quickly after that, no idea how many other tenants he had pulled that trick on though.

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