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Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #1 

I recently evicted a tenant and they did not leave a disaster, but there are some things I am not sure if (or how) to charge for... thought I would get some ideas... 

1) The front door is a standard metal door with foam core.  There was a dent on the inside when they moved in and now there are MANY dents in the same place.  It looks like steel toes boots and heels made impact... and it is pretty hard to dent, so he had to be kicking hard.  I have looked at all of the rehab places around here and can not find one to replace it with, so it looks like a new one will be needed.  Is replacing this something I can charge them for? Because it is really a cosmetic issue (the door still opens and closes fine) and the door was not new when they moved in, I would only charge them for a portion.  If I can charge them, what portion would be fair.

2) About a year before they moved in, I put the 'floor in a box' down in the kitchen (the tongue-grove slats that fit together over a foam water barrier).  Cleaning it up today, I discovered a section that was hit hard enough with something that it actually cracked it.  Another area has gouges in several of the boards.  These are not in areas that I can replace without taking up the whole floor, but am considering buying a box of the flooring to use to replace them in the future (to insure that I can match the floor that is there).  Is that something I can charge them for?

3) My >80 year old house has the original wood floors... they actually drilled a hole in the floor for their air conditioner drain.  I have no idea yet how I am going to fix that, but am at the point where I need to get their letter off telling them why they will not be getting their deposit back.... and all the OTHER money they own me.  If I can somehow charge them for that, how would I do it?  I am doing a quick patch with spray foam to keep varmints out, but will have to do a 'real' repair soon (once I figure out how).

4) There were bi-fold doors in the closet and it looks like in another of his temper tantrums, he put a fist into one of them and ripped it off the wall... the hinges are bent, screws pulled through, hardware bent and broken and where one of the pegs goes in, the wood is actually split.  The doors were actually custom made and I can not find one to replace it so that it matches the other one.  I can fix everything except the hole in the front.  I can change the hinges around so the hole faces into the closet, but it will still be damaged and weakened (wood glue holding the spit wood around the hardware).  Alternatively, I am going to look for a matched set at Habitat for Humanity Restore that will fit that space.  Even though only one door was damaged, can I charge them for both, since they will need to match in order to look right?

5) Does anyone from Oregon know if our state allows us to charge for labour?  The MANY hours of cleaning the stove/oven, spilled coffee/soda/dog-shake mud/paint/glitter pen/crayon/ off the floors and walls, now-or-later candy out of the baseboards, windows that were NEVER cleaned, etc...

Thanks for any help... 

Any suggestions help.


Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,557
Reply with quote  #2 
1)  Are the dents at the bottom of the door?  If so, the solution is simple.  Get a brass "kickplate" and put on the bottom of the door.  Usually you see these on the outside, but put it on the inside where the dents are.  They come in brass, nickel, and other finishes to match the decor (locks).  They are available at big box stores in heights of 9-12" and widths to fit most doors. If this works, charge them for the repair.  Take photos before & after.

2)  Buy the box of flooring (you always should have spare flooring on hand).  Charge them for the portion of the box you will use and the labor to remove all the floor to get to those parts and to replace them, relaying the floor.  Labor for this will be much more than the box of flooring.  If you can't charge for your labor, don't you have a relative, nephew, or any other kid that can carefully unclick these parts (with your help) to get to the damaged section?  Charge for his labor.

3)  To fix the floor, measure the diameter of the hole.  Go to a hardware store and buy a hardwood dowel - not pine, but probabaly oak.  (If this isn't oak flooring, but some other wood, buy a thick board of whatever wood it is, and cut out a round piece of the correct diameter with a hole saw.  You may have to find the correct wood at a specialty lumberyard if this is real old growth wood like they used to use.  You want to cut the hole from an area in the board that matches the grain pattern.  Post back if you need further directions on this.)  Hammer the dowel into the hole and cut it off flush with the floor with a hand saw.  Carefully sand the dowel.  If you don't want to refinish the entire floor, touch up the end of the dowel with a stain pen to match the floor and dab poly (or whatever finsih is on the floor) on the end.  It won't be perfect but it will cover the hole fairly well and not be nearly so noticable.  If you can charge for your labor, charge them to do this.  If not, charge for someone else's labor to do it.

4)  You will have to charge him for both doors.  These were custom doors.  Unless you can find a match or someone to make a match, he'll have to pay for new ones.  The new ones will probabaly be much less than what a custom made match would cost.  Get estimates of a custom one to prove that you saved him money.

5)  Contact a local LL association or a local chapter of REIA (google this) in your area.  They would know if you can charge for labor or not

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #3 

Agree with everything OH LL said.  And also wanted to add that I don't do any of the work that is 'beyond ordinary wear and tear' and is going to be paid for from the tenant's security deposit.  It just seems easier to do it this way, that way I have receipts for each repair and there is no disputing if what I charged was a fair price or not for my time/labor (as long as I hire reasonably priced people).  Plus, since it's coming from their deposit, and not my pocket, it just makes sense to hire out for it.  I can do it myself, but why - I'm not going to do as good a job as a professional and I will only be able to charge 10$ for my work, which isn't worth my time.
All the stuff that doesn't come from their deposit, like patching nail holes and paint touch ups - I do those myself since I'm not charging the tenant for that stuff.

My state has no set amount for what is a fair price to pay for LL labor.  I've heard that my state has accepted 40$/hr as 'fair' for LL cleaning/painting.  And I've also heard that more than 10$ is too high.  Just another reason why I hire out for those kinds of damages.

As for how to charge for the flooring - you have to figure out what the life expectancy is of the floor.   Let's say, with ordinary wear and tear, you'd expect that floor to last 10 years before it would need replacing.  If you put it in a year before they moved in, and they stayed in the apt for a year,  that's two years that the flooring lasted before needing replacement.  So they'd owe you for the remaining 8 years that it should have been okay before needing to be replaced.  You'd pay for 1/5 of the cost, and they'd pay for 4/5 of the cost of the floor replacment (parts and labor).  Hope that makes sense. (and I was just tossing out numbers for floor life expectancy.  I don't know what is reasonable for the type of flooring you put down).


Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,557
Reply with quote  #4 
While the depreciation calculation for the flooring would work if the laminate floor were destroyed, this is a repair not a replacement.  Only a couple of pieces are broken.  The rest of the floor is in good shape.  You can charge the tenant 100% of a repair, but only a percentage of a replacement.  Since this is a repair, do not depreciate the flooring.  Charge the tenant for the portion of the full box of flooring that you would use to make the repair, and all of the labor costs.  If it were necessary to replace the entire floor they ruined, you would charge them according to a depreciation schedule.

Registered: 02/17/09
Posts: 383
Reply with quote  #5 
"I discovered a section that was hit hard enough with something that it actually cracked it.  Another area has gouges in several of the boards.  These are not in areas that I can replace without taking up the whole floor"

I figured you could use the depreciation thing because they'd have to take up the entire floor to do the repair.   But I don't know.  I don't really get what is considered 'ruined' and what is just a liveable blemish.

If you get new carpet in a room, and someone spills a big glass of Kool Aid on it and the stain won't come up no matter what you try - do you just replace the whole room and charge for that?  Or deal w/the fact that there is a stain there? Or just cut out that piece and try your best to patch it without it looking horrible?

I am a perfectionist and I am having a major problem turning over units to new renters unless everything is JUST SO.  Stain?!?  AAAGH!  Dent in the wall?  AHHHHH.  I don't know why I care so much, the tenants don't seem to care or even notice.  Like, right now, I'm about to start painting a unit that will be vacant as of tonight.   The outgoing tenants painted themselves, - loud colors like dark red and dark blue, and they dripped some onto the trim that goes around the floor as the base of the wall (baseboard?)  Anyway, the baseboard is a stained natural wood.  Ehhh.  I am actually considering painting all of the baseboards white because there are so many scratches, other paint colors dripped all over it, marks, etc.  It's a small deal, I realize that, but it bothers me so much.  Should I just let it go?  It's not a high end rental, moderate, I suppose.

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #6 

OhLL - the kick plate was a good idea.. I had not considered that.  Unfortunately, some of the dents were too high.  The lower ones looked like he kicked it... the higher ones looked like he was standing with his back to the door and kicked back with his heel, knee bent.  Since he is over 6 ft. tall, they are almost to the door knob.  The good news is that I found a great door at habitat... there were a couple screw holes I had to patch, but other than that, it is perfect.

We also found an (almost) matched set of the bi-folds ... the part that was not matched covered up perfectly with some creative handles...   so that was taken care of.

I decided to let the kitchen floor go for now.  The gouges are in a corner and the new tenant says she is going to put a corner table there anyway.  The cracked section is pretty hard to see and is not near the sink where water would typically get in.  I have tried patching that sort of floor and it just never seems to go back in the way it should... I would rather have the 'dent' in one place than a whole floor that does not sit right.

The old floor...  thanks for the dowel technique.  I have used it in the past, but unfortunately, they drilled the hole at an angle, part in the floor and part in the wall.  I had kept a big box of sawdust from when we sanded the floors, so I took some of that, mixed it with wood glue to make a wood putty plug and used that.  It does not look too bad.  

I found where they had actually pushed out the dowel plug I had made for a hole where the old oil stove pipe had come up (I think they had a very bored child)and did the same thing with some Old English Dark Oil polish mixed in to make it match where the oil had stained the wood.  With gym-seal over it, you can not even see that one!  

Yikes - I used to be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to that sort of thing, but with an older house, I have gotten over a lot of that.  I now actually put in a lot of used 'stuff' once I realized that the new things look 'wrong' in the older house.  If your mouldings are natural wood colour, you can take some steel wool to them and the paint will come off... if they are varnished, you will have to re-varnish that section, but if they are just stained, you can use something like the Old English Stain polishes ... they cover up a LOT.

As for how much is 'ok', I think it has to do with your target audience.  If  you have some easy-going, country folks looking for a country home with a garden, barn and room for horses, more than likely, a little paint on the baseboards (or sawdust/elmers glue and dark furniture polished hole plugs) is not going to be a problem.  Someone else might be looking for something else.

Since I have to live on the same property, I prefer the easy going sorts, so if my place does not make someones socks go up and down (ie: is not 'fancy' enough for them), I do not really want them here anyway.  We have tractors day and night, dust from the grass fields, mice from those fields, spiders (George moved out, Sam moved in)and bugs that swarm... I NEED the easy going type... lol... 


Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #7 

Ok... doing the Accounting of Charges for the security deposit for the evicted tenants.

The tenants lived in the house for 18  months (1.5 years).  The house had been painted days before they moved in.

Question:  Under 'normal wear and tear', I am finding very vague answers as to what the life span of a paint job should be.  British law actually specifies 3 years, but most of the US comments I am finding say 2-3.

Am I out of line to charge them 1/2 the cost of the paint with no labor charge?  That seems to be a compromise between the 2 and 3 year time frames... 3 years on the paint, free on the labor.  ?


Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,557
Reply with quote  #8 
What I do is to charge according to how long they stayed.  I consider 3 yrs the maximum life of paint in a rental (and am happy surprised if it lasts longer!)  Found this in a book somewhere once.  If they stayed a year or less and the place needs re-painted because of their neglect or actions, they pay all of the cost to repaint.  If they stay more than a year but less than 2 yrs, they pay 2/3 the cost, if they stayed 2 to 3 yrs, they pay 1/3 the cost.  If they stay 3 yrs or move, no charge since I would have to repaint anyways.

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #9 

Man... I could not write this good of a (fictional) story... 

My lovely evicted tenant came  by today, dumped out an (inherited) 95 year old award winning bonsai  I had outside for re-potting, shoved a crumpled piece of paper into the pot and tossed a few handfuls of dirt on it.

I still had the camera on, so the whole thing was caught on vid, including him walking up to the window and flipping off the camera... after kicking over three trashcans and throwing the trash around.  He was pretty clearly drunk.  The camera caught him getting back in his car and driving off.

I saw him leaving, watched the vid and went outside to clean up.  The paper was a "notice" that they were counter-suing me for having has an uninhabitable house.  I put 'notice' in quotes because it was not an official notice... it looked like he had written it in crayon. 

He stated that there were rats, fleas, roaches, ants, mold, mildew, etc.  He claims that they told us, but we just laughed at them and told them to live with it.  He claims that the plumbing did not work, there was no water and that we charged him for things that were not broken when they left, specifically the doors we had to replace.  He claims that we turned the house over to them filthy and that they hired a cleaning crew to come in and clean when they left.  

It went on and on...

I can laugh because I am more than well covered on all of this.

I have a video of the walk through with them, including individual pictures with him in them showing the condition of specific things that they had concerns over... one of them is a picture of him pointing to the ONE shallow dent in the door... the same spot where there are now MANY deep dents from him kicking the door.  Needless to say, I have dated video of the walk through with the sheriff deputy who came to do the lock-out, as well as MANY pictures of the filth they left.  I also found a picture with him standing in the doorway that I took when they got a new dog.  In addition to he and the dog, there is a clear view of the dents, months before they moved out.  Everything else he claimed was also covered.  The grime under the stove, in the bathroom etc, is well documented on the video... the deputy commented, on vid, that it looked like they had never cleaned under the stove.

They gave absolutely no written notice of any problems of pests... they did verbally (in front of a neighbor)tell me once that there were noises in the attic and there were some ants in the kitchen... they also complained that their animals had fleas because of the old tenants and their house was infested.  I have a video of me giving them rodent bait for the attic, terro for the ant, bombs for the fleas as well as written notice that I would be putting down pesticide in the yard.. I require a form to be signed by them acknowledging that I have provided the pesticide, that they have been given instructions on safe use, and that they understand they need to keep kids and animals off the specified grass areas for 48 hours. All withing 24 hours of their verbal complaint.

I have plumbers bills for the plugged plumbing, a pipe that was pulled out of the drain by their trying to fix the plug without telling me,  as well as the septic being pumped ... along with the written report by the plumber stating that the plug was caused by their tampons and candy wrappers... Tampons are SPECIFICALLY indicated in the rental agreement as something that can not be put into a septic system and that they are responsible for the cost.  I did not charge them for that one, but did give them official notice that if it happened again, they would be charged.

And the best part?  I have a restraining order against him.  He is not allowed on the property under any circumstances... we found out he lied on the application, resulting on us not finding out that he had just gotten out of prison ...  70 months for assault.  I was able to give the Sheriff his new address (thanks to OHLL's advice on 'address service requested') and he is being charged with criminal trespass, criminal mischief for the trash and felony vandalism ( in addition to breaking the restraining order) because the plant has an insurance assessment of 1200US$. 

The Sheriff was considering trying to get him on drunk driving too, since it is pretty clear on the video that he takes a big drink from the beer can he then tossed on the ground... which I left alone until the cop got there.

Seriously... my imagination is not good enough to make this stuff up.


Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #10 

Oh... I forgot... when we first went in, the bombs and rat poison were clearly sitting out unused in the back porch... apparently the infestation was not bad enough for them to actually USE the poisons we gave them.   We bombed (just in case)and tossed the poison in the attic and under the house over night before going in.

During the two weeks we were over there cleaning, we did not see ONE flea, rat, roach, etc.  No mold or mildew was ever found.

I did find a hole that a mouse would have had a hard time squeezing though, let along a rat and filled that.

My new tenant has been in for a month and a half now and has not seen ANY indication of anything like they claim.


Registered: 01/20/07
Posts: 3,557
Reply with quote  #11 
Tell us, has this gone through the judgment hearing stage yet?  Would love to hear the story of him returning to court to face the videos.  Love it!  Very good documentation and well done! 

Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #12 
In Oregon, the eviction does not deal with anything other than getting them out.  Along with the court order for removal, the judge writes up a judgement for the court fees (as of the hearing) plus $60.  This does not cover the additional $120 (accumulative) it takes to go through the other three steps that have to happen to get them out if they do not leave voluntarily.

In order to get those funds back, rent owed, damages, etc. back, you have to actually sue them.  For the amount they owe me, I have the option of going through small claims or 'real' court.  I was going to go through small claims, but I think now I will get a lawyer and sue them in 'real' court.  It is a crap shoot as to whether the judge will award lawyer fees for this, but I think considering his attitude and the video evidence I have, I stand a good chance.  Even if they do not, it will be worth it to have a lawyer since this is the first time I will be suing someone.  Once I have one under my belt, I will probably be ok doing it on my own in the future.

I had given them 60 days to pay, so it will be mid-December before I can act on that, but since he elevated it to the criminal realm, I will probably be in court sooner than that. 

I am kind of curious as to whether or not the court will allow ALL the money he owes me to be added to the restitution for the plant in the crim. vandalism case.

Apparenly when the deputy went to his house  and told him that there was video of him doing these things, the ex-tenant made the statement that it was not admissible in court because he did not give me permission to video him.  Too bad for him I had given the deputy a copy of the rental agreement signed by both he and his girlfriend that has a clause that says that they agree that audio and/or video records can be made of all conversations and interactions at the discression of management.  Additionally, he does not have an expectation of privacy on my property since he is no longer a tenant. 


I am not a fan of confrontation, but he is making this almost fun... although I do have the same sort of pity for him as I feel for the fish in a barrel.


Registered: 05/29/08
Posts: 563
Reply with quote  #13 

Amazing....some people are just unreal.  I'm glad you mentioned the video/audio clause -- adding it to my agreement.  Always something new to learn.


Registered: 09/07/09
Posts: 44
Reply with quote  #14 
Check with your states recording laws... they are all just different enough to make it dangerous...

Example... some states allow recordings as long as one of the recorded parties is aware they are being recorded... meaning  you can record someone else without their knowledge.

Some states allow that, but it is not admissible in court unless both parties know it.

In my state, Oregon, it is actually a crime to record someone without their knowledge.  I have one of those pens that records both what is being written and audio in a digital format.... I have the tenants sign the clause but I also make sure that I reiterate EACH time that the pen is recording the interaction... "Because I have the memory of a sponge and use that to make sure I do everything I say I will do."

I also made certain to let them know I installed the camera.  My new agreement has an additional clause that cameras are in use on the property in various locations for insurance reasons.  My lawyer indicates that I am not required to tell them where as long as they are aware they are present on the property.


Registered: 06/17/15
Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #15 

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