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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
I had tenants that lived in my FL home for 3 years. They moved out by the date I gave them, but they left the place TRASHED!!

When I got to the house to inspect (and start to move back in myself), I was greeted by a Fire smoldering about 20ft. away from the house. And it wasn't just trash (like paper) burning...there was an old computer printer, a VCR, metal chair, metal tire rims etc. burning!! Who starts a fire and leaves it unattended?? After 20 min. of putting it out, it ended up igniting again 2 days later. Which took another 30 min. to put it out completely.

Unfortunately, that's not the worst part. Upon walking in, there were flies Everywhere. And the tenants had left some of their personal property behind. Out of the 3 keys they were given for the house, only 1 had been left behind. The 2nd key was returned to me personally by the tenant later that day, but the 3rd key was never returned. Can I charge them for replacing the locks because not all keys were returned?

Anyway, I immediately started taking photos of the house. The carpet looks like Pollack painting. There are stains EVERYWHERE, in EVERY room (From red, to pink, to purple to brown stains). My husband & I rented a carpet cleaning machine, and after he went over everything, at least twice, not one stain came out. Now we have to hire a professional company. The carpet itself is in great condition, but the stains (especially the the red & pink) have been so bad for so long, I don't have hope that they'll come out. Next is the walls. Every wall has stains. From grease to crayon and everything inbetween. My husband washed the walls but none of the stains are coming out. The kitchen is it's own disaster area. They left a huge frying pan on the stove full of grease (Which explains the flies). The floor was sticky, even after my husband washed it 3 times. The dishwasher doesn't work & has discolored water sitting in the bottom of it. And the racks of the dishwasher have mold on them, so apparently it hasn't been working for quite some time. The kitchen cabinets & drawers had rodent fecies in them, as well as other stains. The stovetop has burnt-on grease around the burners, and despite trying every remedy we could think of (or Google), the only option is to replace the top which runs about $130. The oven & broiler weren't clean either. The same goes for the refrigerator too. There is duct tape holding a shelf together on the door of the fridge, and they had spilled a red drink and let it pool at the bottom of the fridge under the drawers.

Both bathrooms were left completely uncleaned. The tubs/showers had thick layers of dirt, soap scum & mildew that took several hrs to clean. (My husband has done the cleaning because I am disabled). There were fixtures literally ripped from the walls, leaving huge holes. There is water damage to baseboards around 1 toilet, and the toilet has been moved because it no longer lines up straight with the wall. Even the toilet seats needed to be replaced from damage.

Every wall in every room needs repainting. So do the baseboards, trim & crown moulding. There are several areas where the drywall needs repair as well. My husband is a handyman by trade so he can do these things. Can he charge the $40/hr that I have seen others charge or is that too much?

The day after they got the notice to vacate, I got a call saying the AC wasn't blowing cold air. I had a company go out within a couple hours and boy was I surprised. The tech sent me a photo of the air filters. The tenants told the tech that they "didn't know" they had to clean the filters and never had in 3 Years. I personally showed the tenants where the air return was, where the filters were located and that all they needed to do with them was take them outside and rinse with a hose once a month. I had the AC tech get the unit running again but he told me the unit needs another $2,000 worth of repair because the system had been working much harder due to the tenants not performing regular maintenance, which they agreed to in the lease. 

I just read that in FL a Landlord cannot charge tenants for their own time cleaning. Is that true? I also read that I can charge for my husband's time cleaning, especially since he doesn't own the home with me ( I bought it before we were married & I'm the only person on the deed). I don't know what a reasonable hourly rate is, any suggestions?

There is one final issue about my tenants Security Deposit: They actually don't have a full Security Deposit to start with. A check they wrote me 3 months after they moved in had bounced and I ended up with $200 in NSF fees. When I discussed the situation with them, in person, they said I could deduct the $200 from the Security Deposit. I agreed. Also, when the tenants signed the lease, the arrangement was that rent is due on the 1st of every month. Both the husband & wife read the lease individually and signed it. When the rent was due for the following month, the 1st came & went without rent being paid. When I finally called to find out why they were late, the wife told me that she gets paid on the 10th of every month & claimed she told me that (which she did not). Trying to be a reasonable Landlord, I ended up changing the due date from the 1st to the 10th, so they wouldn't have late fees every month. The only stipulation was that there would be 10 days of pro-rated rent that needed to be paid, because they actually moved in on the 1st of July. I did notify them of this in writing. The wife's response was to take it out the Security Deposit. They started with $700 for their Deposit but now it is down to $266.70 and that's before any deductions for damages. It's going to cost $455.00 just to clean carpets, fix dishwasher & replace the stovetop. It doesn't include painting, repairs/AC repairs, fixtures broken or missing or the 15+ hrs it's taken (so far) just to clean.

I need advice on what to charge for all this damage!!! The house was brand new...only 2 years old when they moved in. I wish the issues were of the Normal Wear & Tear kind...but this place was run into the ground. The tenants had the Option to Purchase with their lease, and this is how they treated something that could have been theirs.


Posts: 445
Reply with quote  #2 
Hopefully you had a large option fee that you kept.

You will hvae to check the FL tenant /LL laws to see if you can charge fro your own labor.  If not- hire it done to be able to charge them. 

Be sure to send an itmized list-- Personally I would look at the cost of replacement carpet- less the depreciated amount rather than just trying to clean it for charges.

My experiance with rented carpet cleaners has led me to only use professional cleaners.  When I figure in timevrs the cost and the end result-- I think I am ahead with the cost of professional cleaning.

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Posts: 369
Reply with quote  #3 
Your first mistake:  You should not have allowed them to short you the deposit. The security deposit is there for you to take damages out of.  When the wife said to take it out of the security deposit, you should have said no, that was for move out, and not upon move in.  You need a FULL security deposit prior to them moving in.

Second mistake: When the check bounced for their 1st month's rent, you should collect the FULL rent + NSF fees.  (How did you end up with $200 in NSF fees???  Most banks I know charge around $35 for an NSF fee.)

Third mistake:  Rent is due on the 1st of the month. Some people give tenants a grace period like 3-5 days but not 10 days.  If she gets paid on the 10th of the month she should manage her money so that rent is paid on the 1st of the month.

Fourth mistake:  Late fees do not get taken out of the security deposit unless they are left at the end. You should have collected the late fees immediately versus letting them sit for 3 years.

Fifth mistake:  Did you at any time in the 3 years visit the property to inspect it?

Of all this damage -- did you take pictures of everything and document everything in writing?  On the locks -- change the locks.  I don't know how much lock sets cost in Florida but in WI I can get a lock set for $30 (front and back door) that comes with 8 keys.  Certainly a cheap expense after 3 years of tenancy.

You certainly seem justified to keep what little security deposit there is left and I'm sure these people aren't expecting any money back.  You can take them to court to sue them for damages, however with tenants like this, you'd have to be wished good luck on collecting.

It seems as though you have to chalk this one up to a very big education in being a landlord -- the school of hard knocks.

Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #4 
When it comes to security deposits tons of landlords make a lot of mistakes. I suggest you cut your losses and before you rent again make sure to learn more about how to properly handle a security deposit.

There were a lot of mistakes here it seems. If you want to know more about how to handle your security deposits, check out this guide that I wrote (with videos) here: for a good place to start!
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