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Can I Charge a Cleaning Fee? - Landlord Forum thread 206730







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Can I Charge a Cleaning Fee? by Anonymous on August 18, 2010 @13:34

                              
My tenant did clean certain things well upon departure, but he left some things extremely dirty, such as one bathroom with a half-inch thick layer of scum on the tub and walls, a half-inch thing layer of dust on the bathroom cabinets, and a horribly dirty floor and walls. He also did not clean the carpets even though he told me he was going to and I also asked. I had to clean the living room carpet just to determine whether I had to replace it or not which it ended up needing to be replaced. He also left the laundry room horribly filthy as well as the shed outside in addition to a bi-fold louvre door in the kitchen with a ton of dust in it which took FOREVER to clean.

I am not a very experienced landlord and at first sight, it didn't look too bad, but after I got into it, I realized how dirty these things were. I would have hired someone to clean, but my new tenant moves in today and I was there last night until 3am cleaning the bathroom and bi-fold door after painting and cleaning for the last two weeks. My back is now killing me and I was extremely pissed off last night when it was taking so long to clean these things.

I did not use the LPA lease (I will from now on though) and the lease that I used does not have a cleaning clause in it which states the condition the rental must be in in order to get the security deposit back. However, it is generally known that you are supposed to clean your rental upon departure and these things that I mentioned were not even touched or attempted to be cleaned. Other things in the unit were cleaned well however, such as the refrigerator, stove, and toilets.

My question is: Can I and should I charge them a cleaning fee even though I did the cleaning myself? And if so, how much is reasonable? I would've hired someone if I had realized sooner how much work it was going to be and hadn't waited to clean certain things till the last day before my new tenant moves in. I am so pissed that I want to charge them something because it just isn't right and I feel like my time and effort are worth money.

The other issue is that one of the windows had broken glass which they told me about months ago. They said that they were just sitting there one day and heard a noise and it just cracked itself. I didn't repair it right away since it wasn't urgent and a glass company came and gave me an estimate and never called me back. So, when I took the window to two other glass companies for an estimate upon their departure, both of them said that there is no way that a window can crack itself. There must've been some kind of impact or someone shut the window too hard or something. When I mentioned this to the tenant, the kept insisting that it happened itself through no fault of theirs and even found information on the internet about that type of thing being possible. It cost $140. So, I don't know if they are lying or not, but since they are insisting so much, I think they are probably telling the truth. However, I do have some doubts.

This expense just adds to my anger about the cleaning and wanting to charge them something for it.

Does anyone have any suggestions as to what I should do? I feel like I was taken advantage of.

Jan

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Re: Can I Charge a Cleaning Fee? by John (NY) on August 18, 2010 @13:48 [ Reply ]
I charge for anything I consider "above and beyond normal cleaning" and I take pictures.
Those pictures can then be compared with the dated pictures from the time of move-in.

It all gets itemized and listed on the Security Settlement Statement and sent to the tenants along with their deposit refund (if any).


* I find the Move Out Instructions Reminder Letter helps when sent 2 weeks before they move.
http://www.thelpa.com/free/moveout.pdf

* Security Settlement Statement:
http://www.thelpa.com/lpa/forms/ef-security.html

Re: Window by Anna Mouse on August 18, 2010 @14:33 [ Reply ]
You seem like a very nice guy who is going to get walked on if you do not change regarding business. You are in business to make a profit. Be assertive not aggressive which is fair and how business should run.

A window does not just break. Come on. ;) Otherwise we would no longer have them in our homes, can you imagine if they did? Darn was just sitting here typing and yet another window just broke? NO I believe that charging them for the window is fair.

The cleaning I am not going to comment on but to say that if you charge them you might have trouble or you might not. In the future, anything you have to do on your rental that is caused by them should be hired out. Save your time and effort working on your rental with things that are not the tenants responsibility.

Re: Can I Charge a Cleaning Fee? by Denise (OR) on August 18, 2010 @14:45 [ Reply ]
I agree with John's advice, but it seems like your situation was not prepared properly.

Of course you are allowed to charge for cleaning when it is left very dirty, but your lease should specify cleaning charges and the condition given and returned. If it doesn't, consider this a lesson for next time.

He suggested the moveout reminder letter may help for future tenants. It is obviously too late to use it now on your tenants who have left.

Re: Can I Charge a Cleaning Fee? by Eric (MN) on August 18, 2010 @14:54 [ Reply ]
I always charge for cleaning, if they do not make an effort. Cleaning labor, $40 per hour. Try and get a professional company, like ServiceMaster, for less; You can't do it.

In some States I have heard you cannot charge for your own labor. I am not sure how that works, but I would form and hire a separate LLC to do the cleaning, if that is the case.

Definitely charge for the window. Unless it was a gun shot or rock, it didn't break itself.

Make sure you send the accounting of the deposit back soon, as you only have a limited time to respond. If you take too long, they may get three times their deposit back.

Also, while it is tempting to get mad, just clean the unit and get it re-rented. Keep the deposit, and let it be a lesson learned. File a Court case if it makes you feel better, but that is probably throwing good money after bad.

Take off your ‘Owner’ hat, and put on your ‘Property Manager’ hat. Hire a cleaner (yourself?), and get the job done. The owner gets mad as they lose money, the property manager and cleaner just do their jobs. It’s not easy, but it’s what you have to do to stay sane.

Remember, you are not the first person to get ‘taken’ by a tenant.

I have this in my lease, which they initial. If they don’t like my charges, they can do it themselves. When Midas charges you $300 for a muffler, and you sign on the agreement, you can’t go back and say it was too much when the work is complete.

40. MINIMUM CHARGES FOR REPAIRS _______________ (Initials)
There will be a minimum charge for damages that are not repaired by RESIDENT before last day of lease. Actual charges may exceed these minimum charges. Broken Windows $75 ea; Range cleaning $200 ea.; Refrigerator cleaning $100 ea.; Burned out bulbs $5 ea; Torn Shades $10 ea; General apt. Cleaning $550; Clogged toilets, $100; Carpet cleaning, $150; Missing keys, $5 ea; Broken mini-blinds $25; Nuisance calls, $50; Maintenance/repair labor $65.00 per hour; Cleaning labor, $40.00 per hr. On-site Storage, $200 per month. Lease termination fee, 2 months’ rent.

Re: Can I Charge a Cleaning Fee? by Eric (MN) on August 18, 2010 @14:56 [ Reply ]
When I have a tenant moving out, I give a move out letter that includes a checklist, and a CD with the before pictures and video.

They can see the pictures that I have from when the moved in.

Re: Can I Charge a Cleaning Fee? by Jan (MD) on August 18, 2010 @16:08 [ Reply ]
If I do charge the tenant a cleaning fee, I'm debating whether or not to tell them that I cleaned it myself or to just tell them that I had to hire someone since it was so bad. I'm wondering if they might complain if I don't actually have any expenses to a cleaning service and/or also argue about the amount that I charge.
Re: Can I Charge a Cleaning Fee? by OK-LL on August 18, 2010 @16:23 [ Reply ]
You need to google your state LL/T law and READ it. It will tell you what can be charged to the SD. It will tell you how many days you have to provide an SDSS to the tenant, and whether you have to provide receipts with the SDSS or not (most states, not). Many times in LLing, you have to balance the aggravation factor vs. the cost.

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