When the tenant is leaving, it’s important to arrange a smooth transition and quickly find the next renter. Please be aware of the following:
Transfer of utilities into owner’s name
Before the tenant moves out, please schedule the transfer of all utilities to your name. This can be done today so that the utilities will transfer on the same day the tenant will be vacating the property. This will help us to get any rent ready maintenance done and assist our leasing agent to show the property.
Marketing for the next tenant
We’d like to put the property on the market for a new tenant while the existing tenant is still in place. The lease agreement allows us to show the property while it’s occupied, but the success of this approach is determined by the attitude of the tenant. Treating the tenant fairly and with courtesy improves a delicate situation. We cannot market the property if it is not in good condition, if the home is not clean/clutter free, or if the tenants consistently deny entry. Please be aware that in some situations we will need to wait until the current tenant moves out to put the property on the market. Don’t worry, we’re great at finding tenants quickly. For more information on the leasing process, please see the Leasing section of the Owner’s Manual.
After the tenant transfers back possession we will perform a move-out inspection. This document will be posted on your Owner Portal for your review. The move-out inspection is compared to the move-in inspection to determine what damages will be charged to the tenant. Some damaged items will be charged to the tenant’s security deposit, and all other rent-ready work is paid for by the property owner.
The security deposit can be used to pay for tenant caused damage that is not considered normal wear & tear . After the move-out inspection, we will send you a list of the repairs needed with a breakdown of what should be covered by the tenant’s security deposit. We are required to arrange the itemization letter and refund of the security deposit within 21 days after move-out.
Owner holding the deposit: It’s our policy to hold the security deposit, but if the property owner is in possession of the security deposit we will arrange for you to send the itemization letter and refund.
Tenant unpaid balances: In the case there is any unpaid rent that cannot be recovered from the security deposit, the unpaid balance is placed to a collection agency that will attempt recovery for a fee.
Tenant damage responsibilities
The State of California will only allow the security deposit to be used for clear cases of tenant-caused damage. Normal wear & tear is common and you should expect to pay some expenses when a tenant moves out. It’s common for there to be wear on the carpet, paint, window coverings, and cabinets. Tenants are responsible to clean the property and carpets to the same level at move-in, less normal wear & tear. Please follow our guidance to avoid a legal issue. It is common for past tenants to file a small claims suit against you. Property owners almost always lose in court and can be forced to pay up to twice the deposit amount. Please see the section below for the Security Deposit Deduction Policy.
Security Deposit Deductions Policy
Per the California Consumer Affairs guidelines for tenant/landlord rights & responsibilities, the following is our policy for handling tenant security deposit deductions. California law gives the landlord 21 days to either:
1. Send the tenant a full refund of their security deposit,
2. Or mail or personally deliver to the tenant an itemized statement that lists the amounts of any deductions from their security deposit and the reasons for the deductions, together with a refund of any amounts not deducted.
California law specifically allows the landlord to use a tenant’s security deposit for four purposes:
1. For unpaid rent;
2. For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in;
3. For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests;
4. If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.
Below is a list of guidelines to help us determine damages for security deposit refunds.
A landlord may properly deduct from the departing tenant’s security deposit to make the rental unit as clean as it was when the tenant moved in. Reasonable cleaning costs would include general house cleaning, cleaning the stove & oven, removing soap scum & mildew in bathrooms, cleaning the refrigerator, cleaning floors, wiping down window sills and baseboards, professionally cleaning the carpet. But the landlord could not charge for cleaning any of these conditions if they existed at the time that the departing tenant moved in.
In addition, the landlord could not charge for the cumulative effects of wear and tear. Suppose, for example, that the tenant had cleaned the shower, but it remained dingy because of hard water stains and build up over the years. The landlord could not charge the tenant for additional cleaning. The landlord is allowed to deduct from the tenant’s security deposit only the reasonable cost of cleaning the rental unit. For more information see below our Security Deposit Refund Method.
The recommended approach given by the California Department of Consumer Affairs for determining the amount that the landlord can deduct from the tenant’s security deposit for repainting, when repainting is necessary, is based on the length of the tenant’s stay in the rental unit. We give paint a two year usable life. When a property needs paint before the end of a two year usable life, this is paint damage. The tenant will be charged the prorated cost of repainting based on the remaining usable life. See below “Security Deposit Refund Method” for the approach to calculate security deposit deductions for paint damage. Please note that any areas painted with an unauthorized color, stickers on walls, marks on the wall by crayons, markers, pens, etc. is damage, regardless of the paint’s usable life.
Example 1: Tenant moves into a property with new paint. Tenant moves out after one year and the paint is damaged with excessive scuffing. Tenant would be charged for one half of the cost to repaint.
Example 2: Tenant moves into a property with new paint. Tenant moves out after 3 years and the paint is damaged with excessive scuffing and one room has paint damage of marker on one wall. Tenant would not be charged the cost to repaint the entire interior because it’s past the 2 year usable life. They would be charged the cost to repaint the one wall with marker paint damage.
Wall damage includes unremoved nails & hardware, drywall anchors, TV mounts, holes that require patching and painting, and any other items attached to the wall by the tenant. Any patch/paint work performed by the tenant or tenant’s vendor that does not match the current wall is also considered damage. Wall damage will result in a deduction from the security deposit.
Carpet and flooring
Normal wear and tear to carpets and flooring cannot be charged against a tenant’s security deposit. Normal wear and tear includes simple wearing down of carpet and flooring because of normal use or aging, and includes moderate dirt or spotting. In contrast, large rips or permanent stains justify a deduction from the tenant’s security deposit for repairing the carpet or floors, or replacing them if that is reasonably necessary. See below “Security Deposit Refund Method” for the approach to calculate security deposit deductions for carpet and flooring damage.
Windows, Window coverings, and Screens
1. Windows: Damage to windows is relatively easy to determine. If the window was cracked or broken during the tenant’s stay while in the care of the tenant then the broken window is the responsibility of the tenant and not the owner. If a guest or neighbor broke the window, it is still the tenant’s responsibility to replace it. If the tenant wants to recoup their money spent on the window they must seek it from the neighbor. Wear and tear to windows, opening and closing and locking and unlocking is the responsibility of the Landlord. So if the lock stops functioning due to use the tenant is not responsible.
2. Window coverings: Window coverings life span can range from less than 1 year to 5 years depending on the quality of the covering provided. Typically, window coverings where the mechanisms fail due to use are the responsibility of the landlord. Tenants are responsible for broken or missing blinds, broken or missing wands or slats, torn curtains, stains, etc.
3. Screens: Screens are typically the tenant’s responsibility, either they are in good condition or they have been damaged. If the screens provided were intact without holes and after the tenant leaves they are torn or have holes in them, the tenant will be charged to replace the damaged screens.
Depending on your lease, the tenant or the owner will be responsible for maintaining the landscaping. Most leases state that the tenant is responsible for the watering of the landscaping. Most leases state that the owner is responsible for the maintenance of the landscaping. The tenant is responsible for making sure plants and lawns do not die from lack of water. If any vegetation dies because of lack of water this would be considered damage and the tenant could be charged to replace the vegetation. If pets or people tear up or destroy parts of the landscaping, the tenants would be responsible for this damage. If sprinklers are broken or missing, the tenant will be held responsible.
Yards and amenities
Yards can come with many features, such as patios, lighting, fountains, BBQs, outdoor kitchens, pools, etc. If the functionality fails in the process of normal use then the repairs and maintenance is the responsibility of the landlord. If something breaks because of an accident, misuse, or negligence, then the tenant is responsible for the cost of the repair. The remaining life of the item should be factored in similar to carpet and paint. A ten year old BBQ will not be measured the same as a year old BBQ.
Pool maintenance is typically done by a service provider paid by the landlord. If tenant does not allow proper access free of pets, tenant may be responsible for maintenance issues for not providing proper access. Tenants can also be held responsible for pool maintenance if they change the pool settings and run times without permission.
Appliances, fixtures, furniture, other personal items
Missing or removed items will be considered damage. The cost to replace like-for-like will be charged against the tenant’s security deposit. Damage to appliances, fixtures, furniture, or other items will be determined by the cost to repair the damaged item. If the landlord chooses to replace the item, they can only charge the tenant the cost of the repair.
Damage caused by pets like odors, pet hair, urine, chewed areas or fixtures, damaged landscaping and sprinklers, fleas, and any other pet related damage will be deducted from the tenant’s security deposit.