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by Robert Griswold
Q: I have a home I rented out for five years and now the tenant has moved. I know I will have to paint and make several minor repairs. The tenant is insisting I return her cleaning deposit, but the house was not as clean as when she moved in.

For example, the kitchen fan, cupboards, closets, windows and floors are not clean. I will have to hire someone to do basic cleaning. Can I deduct this from her cleaning deposit? I have wood floors and will need to have them buffed. Would she be responsible for keeping the floors in the same condition as when she moved in or is this considered normal wear and tear?

A: In most situations the “normal wear and tear” provision does not apply to cleaning. So you would be able to deduct reasonable cleaning charges for any items or portions of the rental home that were not at least as clean as they were when the tenant moved in.

The wood floors that you feel need to be buffed would likely be subject to an allowance for wear and tear, and that expense would not be passed along to the tenant.

If there was any damage done to the wood floors during the tenancy, then you can charge the tenant. Be sure to ask the contractor to give you detailed billing that separates the buffing of the floors from any charges for damage.

You should always offer to show the tenant copies of all invoices or receipts for any work you have done at the end of a tenancy.

This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of “Property Management for Dummies” and “Property Management Kit for Dummies” and co-author of “Real Estate Investing for Dummies.”

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Copyright 2010 Inman News


See Robert Griswold’s feature, Criminal Record Puts Squeeze on Renters.
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