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Posts: 36
Reply with quote  #1 

I am a smallish female landlord. Been doing it by myself since 1995.

I think I am pretty good at it but yesterday knocked me for a loop.

An older couple was at the end of moving out.  They were renting a house with many details.  Knowing this house and how people forget to clean certain details I left a DETAILED list for him to go thru to make sure each item was cleaned.  I titled it "check list" and mentioned to him to go thru each one by one to make sure it's done.

Now this man seemed more on the ball than other tenants so I had higher hopes.  But no, I did a walk thru and took my microfiber over the fixtures and many other places and black comes up everywhere.  My whole towel is filled with black marks from various parts of the house they forgot.  These were just samples of various areas that needed cleaning. The "list" I left on the counter no check marks or anything showing they actually read it. 

I am feeling disappointed and stressed he wasn't better but I accept it and take the next step.  I call him and left a voice mail telling him "yes the place was cleaned but it's not complete. Someone didn't go thru the list".  I was a bit exacerbated on the phone because I went over and over with him to go down the list and make sure it's all done but it was mild.  I took a picture of the towel and sent it to him as proof.

He writes back SO ANGRY.   Denying everything (even though I have proof), insisting the place was "filthy" when I moved in (another lie). Lying about other things.  He threatens that if I take anything out of the deposit I'd have to hire a lawyer (so stupid. Everyone knows it would be a small claims issue not an attorney issue).  It was so over the top.

I rebut everything I can to stand up for myself.  The place wasn't filthy and if it was why didn't they fill out the move in sheet? Why didn't they say anything?  Because it wasn't.  I know.  I know the details of cleaning that place.

I end up capitulating because at this point I cannot stand the man.  I honestly don't want to see his face again.  I tell him "never mind. I will finish up the cleaning. I will eat the costs.  I want peace of mind and quite frankly I want distance from you".  I have a lot to do today and I didn't want to see him again.  I wanted to have a pleasant day and didn't want to babysit his trying to get it done right or deal with his attitude.  So I capitulated.

Today I wish I hadn't.  I am glad I countered his lies prior, though. I don't think he expected that. 

Question how do you deal with the stress of bullying and manipulation?  I can have perfectly good tenants until something goes wrong or fear gets to them and then it all goes South.  At this moment I am hating people and not trusting of anyone.  This incident really shook me more than usual. I am wondering if I can't do this anymore.  The manipulating, the BS, the posturing I am so sick of it.

What's really hard is that as a landlord I see sides of people others don't see. They put on a nice face to neighbors but I often see the ugly side.  Just the nature of the business. I am having trouble moving past it all today.  I am still upset and shaken.

I'll have to have more tenants come look at the place and want to be positive and open. But I am having a hard time.  My fear "when will they turn on me"?  "When will I see their ugly side"?  "Will they manipulate and bully me"?

How do you cope?



Posts: 580
Reply with quote  #2 

1 - It sounds like your standards for clean are very high. I would expect people to get all their junk out and not leave obvious messes, but I still expect to have to send in a proper cleaning crew. 

2 - If that isn't enough, you should put something in the lease from the beginning specifying cleaning charges. Specify that it will cost them $250 or whatever it is unless the following is completed to your satisfaction. 

3 - Pay someone to clean it to your standards now and include the invoice and deduction from his security deposit (this may not be an option since you already agreed to not charge him).

4 - It sounds like this is either a lower rent type of housing or you didn't have high enough credit requirements. If this is lower rent then you shouldn't expect perfection. These people don't even pay their bills on time, you can't expect white cloth cleaning. If it isn't low rent then look back at his application and see what you should have seen. Low income? Bad credit? Unverified income? There's almost always a red flag in the application process for someone who acts like that. Learn from the mistake and don't rush to fill a vacancy with a less than desirable tenant next time.

5 - You get bad tenants no matter who you are. They act like children and you can't give them an inch. 


Posts: 246
Reply with quote  #3 
We all get these types who believe they cleaned it well and who we believe didn't do a good job.  Guess what - we're both right.

They cleaned it to their standards but it wasn't good enough for our standards.  Communicating your requirements is the key and you did that.  But it also looks like your standard may be too high.  

Ask yourself "what is my next tenant expecting in terms of standard of cleanliness?"  For example - as a new tenant - I would expect the ceiling fans and tops of cabinets to be dusted but I wouldn't expect every nook and cranny to be white glove clean unless it was a super high end rental.  Even 4 star hotels aren't that clean. 

Agree with LL here.  Expect to pay for a cleaning service after a tenant moves out.  Build it into the rent if possible.  Relax on your cleaning instructions to get better compliance.

You've been at this 24 years, you must have seen worse than this.  You can stick it out to meet your goals.  Just remind yourself why you are doing this to make it easier.

AccidentalRental - Helping Homeowners Become Landlords

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