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Spicygirl

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #1 
While my previous tenants were in the process of moving out (2 days before their actual move out date) I brought a prospective new tenant over to view the property. I opened the door to one of the bedrooms and discovered the tenants had a cat. A week later I go to the property to clean and discover the house is absolutely infested with fleas.  I couldn't even stay there to clean. I had hired someone to help me clean, who I now had to pay for her time for showing up but not cleaning.

We tried bombing.  Did not do much, probably because the infestation was so bad. We ripped out the living room carpet, then paid for a professional pest control technician to treat the house. After which I was told the house had to be vacuumed EVERY DAY for 14 days (he actually said do twice a day if I could!) This takes at least 2 hours. This was 5 days ago, and I have seen a few fleas yesterday and today, although the technician said I might see a few for about 21 days.

I have new renters set to move in by Oct 1 (date of treatment was Sept 15). I'm worried that the fleas will not be completely under control and cause trouble with the new tenants. Should they get upset if the fleas are not completely gone or the infestation comes back, I'm out the $ for another month.  Plus I have to try to get new carpet in the living room before the new tenants move in.  What if flea eggs get in the new carpet and cause a new infestation? Did I mention I HATE fleas?

My real question here is, given all the circumstances, unauthorized pet, rampant flea infestation and the time and trouble (and grief) it takes to get rid of them, how much, if any, deposit should I give back to the previous tenant?  We've been renting this house out for 7 years and never had fleas in the house before. Also, the house wasn't filthy, but wasn't clean like it was when they moved in, they stained some carpets and doors, broke some tile in the laundry room, left behind an old chair we had to get rid of. I've never dealt with this before, so any advice would be extremely appreciated!! 
LLinVA

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Posts: 227
Reply with quote  #2 
You should definitely deduct all your costs associated with the fleas. This means the person who came to help, the technician, and the carpet. I am guessing this will more than wipe out their deposit. 

If you really wanted to, and felt it might actually result in something, you could sue them for all actual repairs and damages caused by them. The new carpets, repairs to everything you mentioned, etc. could all go on that. The reality is that it probably won't result in much, even if the judge ruled in your favor. Most people like this don't have much, and even if they do, you will have a horrible time trying to actually get any of it. 
OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,737
Reply with quote  #3 
Keep in mind that the judge is going to require the landlord to depreciate the carpet.  You can't just charge them the cost of new carpet, but you will be required to charge the depreciated value of the old carpet.
dishrodger

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Posts: 314
Reply with quote  #4 
charge hem for everything you have spent on the fleas, including the carpet and Oct rent if you have to.
Make sure you send letter with deductions a per your state
Spicygirl

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #5 
Thank you for the replies.  So I'll deduct the costs of the flea treatment plus a few repairs due to damages. I think they know the situation they left us with, as they haven't contacted us again re: their deposit. This was a true learning experience for us.  I thought just having a "no pets" lease was enough. I've learned we have to keep much better tabs on the property.
jackfole

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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #6 
Sure, deduct the amount you incurred for flea control. Also, for future purposes, have strict rules for pets in the property. Have pest inspection before and after a tent occupies or leaves your property respectively.
Spicygirl

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Posts: 3
Reply with quote  #7 
Right, that way tenants can't come back and claim fleas were already there. Good idea, thanks!
4Rent

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Posts: 32
Reply with quote  #8 
That's awful having flea issues.  I had a flea problem in my own home years ago and they are hard to get rid of.  If you have carpet, it's worse yet.  There are just too many areas where fleas can hide or lay their eggs.  The flea bombs work fairly well but with a bad infestation, it can take multiple bombings.

In regards to your tenants, make sure you keep all your receipts for the flea abatement, cleaning costs, tile repair, dump fees, etc. and send them a letter with an itemized list of what you are keeping out of their deposit.  Hopefully, their security deposit will cover all the associated costs.  If not, you can mail them a letter seeking the amount you are short by.  If they refuse to pay, you can take them to small claims court.  As far as the carpet is concerned, you can't claim the entire cost of new carpet, only the depreciated cost.  So, if the carpet had 5 years left out of 15 years (for example) and you put in new 15-year carpet, you can only deduct 1/3 of the cost out of the deposit.
OHlandlord

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Posts: 3,737
Reply with quote  #9 
4Rent, no court would allow you 15 years depreciation on carpet in a rental.  Depreciation schedules are laid out by the IRS on your tax return.  They allow 5-7 years on flooring.  You need to use the same amount of years you are using on your taxes.  If you used 5 years to depreciate on your taxes, you need to use 5 years on the costs to the tenants.   The warranty on an item is not relevant to the depreciation.
LLinVA

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Posts: 227
Reply with quote  #10 
According to my CPA, residential carpeting that is just tacked down (as opposed to being glued down) doesn't have to be depreciated at all, it can be fully expensed upon installation. I don't know the exact IRS law and section, but he said that carpet depreciation is for glued down commercial carpeting because it is then actually attached to the building and intended to last longer. 

I think this can change the amount a judge will allow charged to the former tenant since it is their fault the carpet needs to be replaced.
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