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socalLL

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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
Our tenants damaged a section the sliding portion of the sliding door.  Can find no evidence of the make/model of this door and I don't think anyone is repairing, just replacing the door.

Can we bill the tenants for replacement of the entire unit of sliding door since the one door section cannot be repaired?   I would hire someone to repair if possible but I also don't think this door is being made yet after 20 years.
LLinVA

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Reply with quote  #2 
If that's what it costs to fix the damage, I would.
AccidentalRental

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Posts: 208
Reply with quote  #3 
You can charge for the depreciated value if you are replacing it.  If it's over 20 years old then there is little replacement value left.  I would try to get someone to repair it first.  You should be able to charge the entire cost of the repair.
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LLinVA

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Reply with quote  #4 
Quote:
Originally Posted by AccidentalRental
You can charge for the depreciated value if you are replacing it.  If it's over 20 years old then there is little replacement value left.  I would try to get someone to repair it first.  You should be able to charge the entire cost of the repair.


This doesn't seem completely accurate to me. Maybe it varies by state, but I don't think the depreciated value is an issue. If someone causes damage that costs $1,000 to fix, you can charge $1,000 to fix it. You have a legitimate loss of $1,000 caused by that person, they are liable. By the argument above, if the house is fully depreciated then you can't charge for any damage because it's all been fully depreciated. Depreciation is a tax issue, not a liability for damages issue. Maybe in some areas there is precedent for this in general, or at least for certain things (such as carpet), but I don't think the landlord is screwed just because of depreciation and the tenant is free to fully damage all depreciated property.
AccidentalRental

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Maybe it varies by state


That's probably more accurate. 

I can see both sides of the argument but in my market it is the value of the item you replaced, not the replacement cost.  It's not book value (accounting for depreciation) but actual market value.  A house is never valueless even if it is fully depreciated on the books.  You can't expect your tenants to replace an item at full cost if it was worth only a fraction of that.  You got the benefit of having the item most of it's useful life. They should only pay for the value at the time it was damaged. 

But I suppose it's different depending on the state and the particular judge you get in front of that day.

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LLinVA

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Reply with quote  #6 
But damage is different entirely. If it costs $2,000 to repair damages, that's an actual cost. That is completely independent of the value of the item damaged.

If it costs $1,200 to replace a counter that a tenant damaged, it doesn't matter if the counter was depreciated entirely or cost $10,000 originally, the tenant caused damages that took $1,200 to fix. So unless the replacement is for a nicer version, that cost to get something about the same in value and quality is an actual cost to the landlord. That is what a tenant is liable for.

I can see it being different for things that are expected to be replaced regularly in a rental (carpet, appliances, etc.) because it is unreasonable for a landlord to expect them to last 20+ years. But for other things that are never replaced regularly unless damaged or the landlord chooses to upgrade/remodel, the tenant is liable for the cost to repair their damages. A countertop, door, etc. should never have to be replaced. If a tenant damages them, they're on the hook for the full cost to get it back to similar working condition and quality, whether that's a repair or replacement.
AccidentalRental

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Reply with quote  #7 
I hear you but it's the difference between being "made whole" or being compensated for the "value" of what you actually lost.  Different jurisdictions, different standards.  If I ever find myself in front of an NJ judge over this issue, I'll invite you up to argue on my behalf 😉
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LLinVA

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Posts: 550
Reply with quote  #8 
But again, that's ignoring the whole picture. It doesn't cost me the cost of parts to get it fixed, there is also the cost of the labor involved. If a plumber fixes a leak and uses $50 in parts but $300 in labor, what should be billed to the tenant? The tenant caused $350 in damage, but the value of the exact items damaged was only $50. I don't think a court would say the tenant is off the hook for the $300 in labor it took to actually fix the damage. 

I'd be surprised if courts were actually charging tenants for no more than the severely depreciated value of the item damaged (again, that's a tax/accounting issue, not a liability for damages issue).
Maxmillian

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Posts: 54
Reply with quote  #9 
Completely forgotten in this discussion is the issue of reasonable wear and tear  On a 20 year old door the  tenant could use this concept  as a defense and avoid paying anything.  AND he might be right .The door could be worn out.
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LLinVA

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Posts: 550
Reply with quote  #10 
Nothing provided here supports that. That may very well be true, but nothing here has indicated that was the issue. OP simply states "tenants damaged" which indicates damage beyond wear and tear. You are right, it may be broken because it is 20 years old and tenants are rough on houses and sooner or later something about the door is going to break, and if there were any question about how the damage occurred, it would not be unreasonable to assume it was wear and tear on an old door. That's just not how OP presented it.

Perhaps OP can provide more detail about the nature of the damage and how it appears to have occurred.
socalLL

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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #11 
Great discussion! The damage to the door is definitely not normal wear and tear and this is a external door that should last the lifetime of the property. To remove the door would require pulling out the framing to replace the door and then replace the entire unit and reframe and paint. This is why it pains us so much to see that the door was damaged. How it was damaged could be anything but wild guess, something was thrown at the door to cause the trim to crack. The tenants have a large dog and possible a toy was thrown or maybe tenants kicked the door.
LLinVA

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Posts: 550
Reply with quote  #12 
But what evidence is there that these tenants actually did anything to cause the trim to crack? Couldn't that event have been done by a previous tenant that weakened the trim or caused a crack to start, and it was through normal use that the crack got worse? What trim? The trim around the door? The trim of the sliding glass door itself that holds the glass? Any pictures? 

As I said before, it is possible for something to break in a way that in that moment was caused by normal use (normal wear and tear) even though the damage itself is well beyond normal wear and tear.
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