Tenant Pre-Inspection Questions

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Submitted by paramount on August 18, 2012 - 11:47pm

Well as I anticipated my tenant is vacating and requested a 2 week pre move out inspection.

When I met the tenant at the property, he was very defensive to the point of being aggressive.

The tenant had several cats and a pet snake, so I brought my black light with me and identified several obvious pet urine stains on the carpet and immediately performed a sniff test - the smell was enough to make me gag (literally).

And yes, I noticed the smell as I walked into various rooms.

Of course he started protesting loudly: how do I know it wasn't there when I moved in?!!!

I mentioned it wasn't noted on the lease or any pre move-in inspection.

In my opinion the carpet has to be replaced, since the urine would soak into the padding and even the subfloor.

Anyone have a similar experience? Based on my tenants demeanor, I don't see this ending well.

Does the tenant have the right to replace the carpet on their own?

Submitted by spdrun on August 19, 2012 - 12:20am.

Lessons:
(1) Don't have a rental house with frickin' carpeting. Hardwood floors or tile + area rugs is where it's AT. In fact, don't have ANY house with permanent carpeting. Hard to clean, keeps allergens in, and is full of toxins.
(2) Two cats and a snake? Charge a $500 security deposit PER PET! If the tenant doesn't like it, he should go back to the zoo from where he came.

Submitted by paramount on August 19, 2012 - 1:28am.

spdrun wrote:
Lessons:
(1) Don't have a rental house with frickin' carpeting. Hardwood floors or tile + area rugs is where it's AT. In fact, don't have ANY house with permanent carpeting. Hard to clean, keeps allergens in, and is full of toxins.
(2) Two cats and a snake? Charge a $500 security deposit PER PET! If the tenant doesn't like it, he should go back to the zoo from where he came.

LOL...

I do have a $2000 deposit.

I'm sure the tenant is thinking they are getting it all back; and if not I'm sure they are taking me to court.

Tenants demeanor has changed considerably since cancelling the lease; they are very nasty.

Submitted by flu on August 19, 2012 - 7:36am.

I'd try to avoid direct face-face contact with tenant. There's nothing saying you need to do the inspection in front of him at the same time and need to refund his deposit right away...You can do the inspection after he vacates. You have time to refund any deposit back... You have 21 days to refund any deposits.
If he presses you to do it early, just say you don't have time, you weren't prepared since he/she canceled the lease early, and you'll get to it. Nothing they can do.
Afterall, he did say he is in a hurry to vacate, unless he was lying. So let him vacate first. Get your place back first. Don't sign off or release his deposit before he moves out and you have rekeyed the house....Again you have 21 days. Don't be so damn nice to other people when their on their way out when they're pricks. #1 priority is for you to get him to leave immediately, and make sure he can't come back...Everything else, deal with later.

AFTER he moves out and you've changed the locks, Do you inspection, deduct cleaning expenses, repair expenses,etc... Deduct his deposit, document it very well, and send him a bill with copies of his receipts... Let him take you to court (he isn't). He's got better things to do.

The guy obviously is what in chinese we call (Ni Pi : I think. I suck at pinyin)... Meaning sore loser, person with loose ethics...You know the ridiculous kind of people in this country that does something wrong, cries foul, and then blames someone else for their problems. Next time, even if the person has to legitably cancel a lease early, make sure you negotiate so that you do the cancelation on your terms, not his....

And no, tenant does not have any rights to replace the carpet for you without your approvial. If he/she does so without your approval, not only can the the tenant be SOL, but you probably can deduct his deposit to replace the new carpet, if it's not the same as the one that was there.. (What if he stuck in a really hideous purple carpet)....And you're not going to give him your approval, otherwise he'll find you the shittiest/preowned carpet that is availabe, and might even try the installing it himself. And then it will be YOU being SOL when you have to have it redone.

Tenants are sometimes idiotic...Hopefully, next time when you screen, you can leave the idiots to others...I had one tenant prospect that wanted me to rip out the carpets for wood flooring and take down glass mirrors. I literally said, "Are you joking? This is being rented as is... I have 8 other people that are interested as such"

Submitted by spdrun on August 19, 2012 - 9:26am.

LOL...

I do have a $2000 deposit.

$2000 isn't enough unless the rent is $500/mo. I was saying $500 per pet ($1500) ADDITIONALLY to the regular (month or 1.5 month) security.

Submitted by PCinSD on August 19, 2012 - 10:27am.

spdrun wrote:

$2000 isn't enough unless the rent is $500/mo. I was saying $500 per pet ($1500) ADDITIONALLY to the regular (month or 1.5 month) security.

In CA, a landlord cannot get a security deposit that exceeds 2x the monthly rent. Assuming it's an unfurnished rental.

Submitted by spdrun on August 19, 2012 - 10:37am.

Assuming rent is $1500, $500 per pet + 1 month would fall within the law. Or just charge the guy "pet rent" of $50/mo per pet, which is for sure legal.

Submitted by paramount on August 19, 2012 - 11:10am.

Thanks for the responses.

Since the urine stains was in a few spots, and the carpet is fairly new - I told the tenant he could use the remnants to have repairs performed.

Bad idea?

Submitted by spdrun on August 19, 2012 - 11:29am.

Get an estimate. Send the tenant the bill ... then put down Pergo.

Submitted by flu on August 19, 2012 - 5:32pm.

paramount wrote:
Thanks for the responses.

Since the urine stains was in a few spots, and the carpet is fairly new - I told the tenant he could use the remnants to have repairs performed.

Bad idea?

terrible idea. Your carpet is going to look like shit...
There no professional that can "patch" a carpet and make it look like it's not there.. It can come close, but not even...

I'm speaking from experience because at one point, someone had put a box with crap in a living room. When the person moved out, the box had leaked bleach all the way out of the box into the carpet, and the carpet was chewed up... We got a pro to to try to cut a remenant out and patch it...Looked like crap (and it was just a plain carpet, not berber or one with pattern)...

Look paramount. I'm saying this sincerely. But you really are being too nice to the tenant. Why do you let the tenant decide how you want things he broke fixed? It's your house.. It should be under your terms...Why do you continue to accomodate this tenant so you can save him money, while wasting your valuable time, energy, and money? I can understand if this guy is your friend/relative and you like the person.. But this is a complete stanger who obviously doesn't give a crap about you....So don't be so nice.

I know my tenant has busted a screen door, and done a few things here and there. I'm not saying anything. When/if he moves out, I'll just send him the bill. He can't deny it since, I took pictures before he moved in, shared it with him. He did the pre-inspection checklist. If it costs my handman $100+ to install a new screen door, well that's the tenants problem...not mine...I'm not going to go around town trying to find him the cheapest handman on my time, or try to make things convenient for his benefit.

Actually, what I did fwiw was not only did I give the tenant a preinspection checklist, I gave him access to the picasaweb album I created that showed pictures before he moved in. I made a copy of those pictures and gave it to him so that we're on the same page when he moves out...

Submitted by mike92104 on August 19, 2012 - 2:30pm.

paramount wrote:
Thanks for the responses.

Since the urine stains was in a few spots, and the carpet is fairly new - I told the tenant he could use the remnants to have repairs performed.

Bad idea?

Yes, but I guess it's too late now. If the carpet really reeks, then those cats have been going there constantly. The urine has probably saturated the padding and the sub floor, and the smell will not go away unless it is all replaced. Allowing the pets to piss on the carpet is pure negligence on the owners part, and they should pay to restore your property to the condition it was in when they signed the lease.

Submitted by EconProf on August 19, 2012 - 4:51pm.

This will alienate about half the Piggs reading this, but I learned long ago to simply not rent to people with pets. Saves all sorts of problems even though it eliminates half your market and probably lowers your asking rent, and certainly your deposit.
Cat urine is worse than dog urine and the smell CANNOT be removed. A future tenant without pets and possessing a sensitive nose (IOW, the kind of tenant you want), will surely smell it and rightly complain, perhaps not upon initial showing but after moving in.
Don't waste your time and money on carpet treatments that claim to eliminate pet urine smell. They don't work. Furthermore, you can't just replace the carpet--the pad must go too. And during the new installation when both are up, treat the affected area heavily with bleach and water, because the smell is in the wood and concrete too.

Submitted by EconProf on August 19, 2012 - 4:59pm.

Flu, I believe CA now has a law requiring a pre-move-out inspection at least 2 weeks before vacancy. This gives tenant a chance to correct deficiencies on their own and possibly save a deduction from their deposit.
It is one of the few "pro-tenant" CA laws I believe make sense. It fosters communication between these two potentially waring parties and reminds tenants that they are liable for damages beyond "normal wear and tear", and necessary cleaning as specified in the lease.
In this case landlord seems entitled to monetary damages totaling labor and materials for replacement carpet and pad, but only for the affected room(s), and only after depreciating for the age of the carpet.

Submitted by spdrun on August 19, 2012 - 5:00pm.

Again: if you plan to replace the carpet, why not go with non-porous flooring or even tile? This is a rental house, not the Hilton, right?

Carpet rules out: hikers/mountain bikers, people with kids (and you can't discriminate!), messy people, and meth cooks (OK, you can and should discriminate there!).

Submitted by flu on August 19, 2012 - 5:31pm.

EconProf wrote:
Flu, I believe CA now has a law requiring a pre-move-out inspection at least 2 weeks before vacancy. This gives tenant a chance to correct deficiencies on their own and possibly save a deduction from their deposit.
It is one of the few "pro-tenant" CA laws I believe make sense. It fosters communication between these two potentially waring parties and reminds tenants that they are liable for damages beyond "normal wear and tear", and necessary cleaning as specified in the lease.
In this case landlord seems entitled to monetary damages totaling labor and materials for replacement carpet and pad, but only for the affected room(s), and only after depreciating for the age of the carpet.

No kidding? I didn't know that... Oops... Gotta love CA pro-tenant laws.

Submitted by flu on August 19, 2012 - 5:28pm.

EconProf wrote:
This will alienate about half the Piggs reading this, but I learned long ago to simply not rent to people with pets. Saves all sorts of problems even though it eliminates half your market and probably lowers your asking rent, and certainly your deposit.
Cat urine is worse than dog urine and the smell CANNOT be removed. A future tenant without pets and possessing a sensitive nose (IOW, the kind of tenant you want), will surely smell it and rightly complain, perhaps not upon initial showing but after moving in.
Don't waste your time and money on carpet treatments that claim to eliminate pet urine smell. They don't work. Furthermore, you can't just replace the carpet--the pad must go too. And during the new installation when both are up, treat the affected area heavily with bleach and water, because the smell is in the wood and concrete too.

You won't alienate me.. I always said. No pets...

Submitted by mike92104 on August 19, 2012 - 8:24pm.

flu wrote:
EconProf wrote:
This will alienate about half the Piggs reading this, but I learned long ago to simply not rent to people with pets. Saves all sorts of problems even though it eliminates half your market and probably lowers your asking rent, and certainly your deposit.
Cat urine is worse than dog urine and the smell CANNOT be removed. A future tenant without pets and possessing a sensitive nose (IOW, the kind of tenant you want), will surely smell it and rightly complain, perhaps not upon initial showing but after moving in.
Don't waste your time and money on carpet treatments that claim to eliminate pet urine smell. They don't work. Furthermore, you can't just replace the carpet--the pad must go too. And during the new installation when both are up, treat the affected area heavily with bleach and water, because the smell is in the wood and concrete too.

You won't alienate me.. I always said. No pets...

I have pets, and still wouldn't rent to people with pets. There are just too many people out there who can't or won't train their pets properly, and they can be damned destructive.

Submitted by paramount on August 19, 2012 - 7:21pm.

Yes, tenants are entitled to a pre-move inspection, but at what point do the repairs exceed the reasonable ability of a tenant to correct to avoid deductions.

I don't want the tenant replacing carpet, or even repairing carpet.

Also, if I am only entitled to replace carpet in rooms with damaged carpet, now I have a house of mismatched carpet.

When they moved in the carpet was nearly new, and it all matched.

Also, if I replace the carpet with tile or some other material, it may appear that I attempted to improve the house with tenants deposit.

Submitted by spdrun on August 19, 2012 - 7:30pm.

Get a quote for the carpet replacement from a reputable contractor.
Charge them for the amount of the quote, minus an allowance for wear and tear.
Do whatever you like with the money.

Submitted by paramount on September 20, 2012 - 11:14pm.

One last question: So my new tenant moves in, and finally provides me with an initial move in inspection report that is extremely detailed. For example:

1. The outside condenser unit has rust at the bottom of the unit.

2. A bathroom ceiling light fixture has a small amount of rust stain.

And on and on...

It's as if they went through the house with a microscope.

It just doesn't seem right, and I think something is up.

Anyone have a similar experience?

Submitted by CA renter on September 21, 2012 - 2:41am.

paramount wrote:
One last question: So my new tenant moves in, and finally provides me with an initial move in inspection report that is extremely detailed. For example:

1. The outside condenser unit has rust at the bottom of the unit.

2. A bathroom ceiling light fixture has a small amount of rust stain.

And on and on...

It's as if they went through the house with a microscope.

It just doesn't seem right, and I think something is up.

Anyone have a similar experience?

Didn't you walk through the house with a black light when your last tenant moved out? Don't many landlords go through the home and make detailed lists in order to keep the tenant's money? How is that any different?

These new tenants probably had a bad experience with another landlord and are now trying to protect themselves. You can't really blame them.

Not trying to pick on you, Paramount, but what comes around goes around. Too many landlords want their tenants to pay for all of the maintenance and upkeep of their properties. That's not the tenants' responsiblity.

Submitted by Fearful on September 21, 2012 - 6:52am.

CA renter wrote:
Too many landlords want their tenants to pay for all of the maintenance and upkeep of their properties. That's not the tenants' responsibility.
Wonderful words. You, the landlord, have got to accept that there is such a thing as normal wear and tear, and that it is not the tenant's responsibility to return the dwelling to you in pristine condition.

You also have to accept that the dwelling you are renting to them is not in pristine condition in the first place. Even brand new houses have wear and tear in them.

The fact that they are documenting preexisting wear and tear is excellent.

CA renter wrote:
Don't many landlords go through the home and make detailed lists in order to keep the tenant's money? How is that any different?

The tenant documenting the condition is preserving their legal right to wear and tear. The landlord keeping the tenant's money is stealing.

I had exactly that experience with Lisa Zhang of Prudential Scripps Ranch. I ended up getting dinged for stuff that was absolutely normal wear and tear. I was too busy to fight it. Classic landlord nickel and diming.

Submitted by EconProf on September 21, 2012 - 7:23am.

paramount wrote:
One last question: So my new tenant moves in, and finally provides me with an initial move in inspection report that is extremely detailed. For example:

1. The outside condenser unit has rust at the bottom of the unit.

2. A bathroom ceiling light fixture has a small amount of rust stain.

And on and on...

It's as if they went through the house with a microscope.

It just doesn't seem right, and I think something is up.

Anyone have a similar experience?


You are lucky you have a concientous tenant. And a very detailed list of deficiencies upon move-in is exactly what you want. For starters, it establishes a list both sides can point to upon move-out so that deficiencies NOT on the list can be charged to the tenant. The most frequent statement I hear when a tenant moves out is "That was bad when I moved in". I pull out their move-in list and say "Show me". They can't, and the more detailed their list, the weaker their argument, since they have shown they tried to list everything.
I actually encourage the new tenant to be as detailed as possible, and to wait till they've lived there a week to be sure to include every little thing.

Submitted by flu on September 21, 2012 - 7:46am.

paramount wrote:
One last question: So my new tenant moves in, and finally provides me with an initial move in inspection report that is extremely detailed. For example:

1. The outside condenser unit has rust at the bottom of the unit.

2. A bathroom ceiling light fixture has a small amount of rust stain.

And on and on...

It's as if they went through the house with a microscope.

It just doesn't seem right, and I think something is up.

Anyone have a similar experience?

Paramount,
In my experience, a few scenarios

1)Person had a really bad experience with a previous tenant and/or being extra careful.

2)Person is anal and/or cheap and is gonna nickel and dime you to death and bug you for every single minor thing on the face of the earth.

I hope it's #1 (I'm more like #1)...
#2 people are a real PITA, but as long as they pay their rent on time, just suck it up (unless you can find better tenants).

My recommendation is you can *try* is that if the person is so anal, go and take a few pictures and have him agree with the condition prior to move in. If he's gonna be anal with things, I think it's reasonable you politely tell him/her. That's fine, so to make sure there is no disagreement, let's take a few pictures and make sure we agree on it.. (for your protection, and mine)...

One of my tenants was in category #1, so I get along with them just fine. one of my tenants is in category #2. And oh, my, every since time rent check is due, he always contacts me to try to get me to reduce his rent by complaining about something....

The latest episode was that his lease was up, I decided to give him a favor by alonging him to continue his lease on a month-month bases for exactly the same price as he was paying before...Big mistake...Market price was $50-100/month for a 1 year term and I had plenty of interest...This guy goes back and forth with me like for a week trying to "negotiate" with me to reduce his rent. I'm like WTF dude, check out the comparables. You aren't even gonna find a comparable to what I'm offering you month-month for 6months or even a year for that matter. I even offer him a 6month term for this below market rent...He goes on and complains about he doesn't like this, he doesn't like this about my place. I get so fed up, I tell him. Sorry you feel this way, I thought you were happy. If you think you can find a better place, please let me know if you don't plan on renewing month-month...So anyway, he still goes and complains back and forth, etc. I'm like, dude...Here's my craiglist posting of the place, here are my 6 prospects, all of which are offering to lease for a year $80 more than you are paying month to month...Hurry up and make your decision...
Meanwhile, the dude mails me his rental 2 days after it's dude (I give a 3 day grace period)...And I got it late because he didn't put a postage stamp on it and didn't put a return address on it, so it's stuck at the post office, to which when I finally asked the postman where it was, he hands me the envelope with a nice "postage due" on it....

Anyway, so I tell the tenant, dude, not only am I offering you a reduced rent, any other creditor right now would have charged you the per contract late fee for your rent, and BTW next time put your fricking stamp on it...Next time, I'm gonna charge the late fee.

Anyway, dude ends up renewing because like I said, despite him trying to nickel and dime, I told him the truth...I'm doing him a favor...And frankly, if he bugs me anymore unnecessarily about reducing the rent, I'm not going to continue his lease.

While I can understand why some tenants hate landlords, but dude....Some tenants have an astonishing sense of entitlement and/or such out of touch with reality, it's almost hysterical.

Submitted by SD Realtor on September 21, 2012 - 9:37am.

I would agree that having the tenant send you such a detailed list is fantastic. It may seem anal to you and it may be a precursor of many requests to fix little things but it also provides a documented list. You should follow up with documentation that states an acknowledgement of that list and that everything else is in good condition.

Submitted by paramount on September 21, 2012 - 11:54pm.

Thanks everyone.

It seems in general that landlords and tenants have a very contemptuous relationship.

Here's the thing though: when you rent a car and the rental company asks you to inspect the car and note any damage do you pull out a magnifying glass?

I doubt it.

What your looking for is significant damage - not every little defect.

You and the rental company both know the car isn't brand new....

Submitted by joec on September 22, 2012 - 11:21am.

I've noticed Alamo in my last few car rentals don't even have that check anymore. Maybe they just check it themselves and don't treat their customers like crooks? As long as nothing major is broken, they're ok it seems from my experience.

In my last rental, we cleaned up absolutely NOTHING and was so happy when they gave us practically everything back minus a small cleaning fee. TOTALLY worth it to just not bother cleaning a single thing from my last few rentals.

This is why to be a landlord, one should think like a business person and just "hire" the cleaners, etc since it doesn't sound like it's that much for what you get.

Submitted by bobby on September 22, 2012 - 11:40pm.

a while back I commented on the cracks in granite counter during walk through. The landlord happily noted that down.
A few days later, I called them up and mentioned a few more defects I had missed during the initial walk through.
went it came time to check out, there was no penalizing me for the preexisting defects.

Submitted by flu on September 23, 2012 - 1:32am.

paramount wrote:
Thanks everyone.

It seems in general that landlords and tenants have a very contemptuous relationship.

Here's the thing though: when you rent a car and the rental company asks you to inspect the car and note any damage do you pull out a magnifying glass?

I doubt it.

What your looking for is significant damage - not every little defect.

You and the rental company both know the car isn't brand new....

Rental car. Yes.Definitely...

I borrowed a 328 loaner from BMW dealer when I dropped my car for service. I went through it with a fine tooth cone. When I got home, I parked on a driveway and noticed the the previous borrower royally suck at parallel parking because he/she completely scraped the lower skirt on the passenger side below the door. That very moment I took it back to the dealer, and explained to them what happened. They kinda didn't believe me, and had to ask a few technicians if they've seen this before. Fortunately, one of the techs said "it looks familiar" and he checked his service records that confirmed it... Had it not been for that, I would have been screwed.

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