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What Can You Charge For After Tenant Moves Out?




As a landlord or property manager, there are certain things to bear in mind whenever dealing with new, existing, or former tenants. Owning or managing rental property is like any other business, which means that a slight mistake can be a big blow to your income generating venture. Once the tenancy lease expires or is terminated by either of the parties and the tenant moves out, there are certain things to think about. As you think about preparing the property for occupancy by a new tenant, the former tenant will most likely be waiting for their security deposit within a period of 14 to 60 days upon vacation. However, the security deposit serves various purposes when it comes to rental lease agreements and caters for various reasonable expenses if any, meaning that it may not be returned in full. But the biggest question most landlords or property managers have when it comes to such a time is, “what can you charge for after tenant moves out?” Well, it all depends on a number of factors, including the reason for termination of agreement as well as the condition of the property at the point of moving.

Condition of Property

In moist states, it is a legal requirement that the landlord returns their former tenant’s security deposit within 14-60 days of vacations, often with a list of deductions or charges made on the amount. In most cases, assuming that the agreement was ended in good faith or the lease came to an expiry and renewal wasn’t renegotiated, there are certain things you can charge for after the tenant moves out. This is to assume that there was no violation of the lease agreement and they had cleared all the monthly payables, including the rent up to the date of vacation in due time. There are some things that you can charge for after a tenant moves out as well as those you cannot charge for as in the few examples below.

Things You Can Charge For (Filth and Damage)

Some tenants may leave your property in a condition that may not be considered as normal or reasonable wear and tear. In other words, they may leave your property with damages that are regarded as the consequences of the intentional or unintentional actions. These may include the following, which you can impose a charge from the security deposit you already hold.

• Broken walls or holes excessively punched on walls
• Chipped, cracked, or broken bathroom and kitchen tiles
• Blocked toilets and drains – These require a plumber to fix
• Cigarette burns or tears on curtains, carpets and upholstery
• Stained carpets and upholstery from pets droppings or household material
• Broken cabinets, windows, appliances, doors, locks, fixtures, furniture, and accessories
• Pest inspection and extermination
• Additional paint by tenant
• Filth on property, such as in the kitchen and bathroom
• Mold or mildew infestation, especially the bathroom

These being just a few of many examples, it is evident that most of them require you to work with an expert technician in order to get your property back in good condition. Considering that most professional services are quite costly nowadays, you will need to inspect the property carefully and look for a quote for each of the damage left behind by the tenant, if any. This will allow you to come up with an estimate of expected costs and respective amounts you will charge on the security deposit in total. However, most of these damages have to be justified, that they occurred out of misuse, improper use, or negligence and not from normal use. Sometimes the security deposit may also cater for unpaid rent if any, but then another problem would sprout up in case accompanied with too many damages.

Things Not To Charge for (Reasonable Wear and Tear)

In most cases depending on state laws, fixing damages caused by reasonable wear and tear is the responsibility of the property owner or manager. This means that you may not have the right to charge for such damages when the tenant moves out. A good example is the wall paint for property in which a tenant has lived for a number of years. Faded or dirty blinds and curtains, slight marks on carpet flooring, small breakages on tiles, warped doors and windows from environmental factors, discolored fixtures and fittings, dents on walls from door knobs and handles, accumulated dust and grime and other slight damages from normal use are some examples of things considered as reasonable wear and tear. Charging for such damages might lead you into an argument with your former tenant, which would mean battling it in the small claims court if you can’t manage to come to an understanding.