Security Deposits in San Diego, CA are often a bone of contention between Landlord and Tenant. A “Move-in” Checklist is often the best way to make sure that everything that needs attention is noted, from a hole in the wall to a dirty oven. This checklist document will also hold up in court. Without it, you have no leverage to justify any deductions. I give my tenants 7 days from move-in to get this back to me, and sometimes I have to keep on badgering. It’s worth it.
Deductions for cleaning and damages is usually what the security deposit is used for. A few examples are:
Getting rid of mildew in the bathroom
Fumigating for fleas from a tenant’s pet
Repairing holes in walls from pictures
Legal standards are vague as to what is considered a “reasonable” deduction or not. Many tenants’ standards are different from yours or the new tenant. If carpets are delivered freshly steam cleaned to a tenant, and after 2 years there are stains on it, I deduct a cleaning fee. If you want to do the cleaning yourself, you can deduct a reasonable hourly charge.
One of the biggest issues is “repainting”. Are dirty walls a sign of normal “wear and tear” after a one year period of time or the tenant’s carelessness? One Landlord I know uses the following guideline.
If the tenant has occupied the premises:
6 months or less, the full cost (labor and materials) of repainting is subtracted from the deposit
Between 6 months and a year, 2/3 of the painting cost is subtracted from the deposit.
1-2 years, 1/3 of the painting cost is subtracted from the deposit
2 years or more, no charge for repainting.
This is just a general rule, and it may have to be modified to fit particular circumstances.
If the tenant has damaged or shortened the life of a carpet you may charge the tenant the pro-rated cost of the item taking into account how old it was and how long it may have lasted and the cost of replacement. For example, if the tenant ruined an 8 year old rug that had a life expectancy of 10 years, and it would cost $2000 to replace, you would charge the tenant $400.
If a tenant leaves behind a row of book-shelves you can remove them and charge the tenant for restoring the property (wall repair, painting). The standard lease in San Diego, CA specifically says no improvements or repairing or altering the premises.
Damages beyond ordinary wear and tear:
These would include cigarette burns, broken tiles, missing broiler pans, water damage from plants, and broken windows.