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4363 Views 14 Replies Latest reply: Apr 23, 2014 1:59 PM by mtngir64 RSS
citybythebay94118 Contributor 40 posts since
Mar 18, 2012
Currently Being Moderated

Jul 8, 2012 5:46 AM

My first experience with damage.  How much of the secirity deposit to withhold?

I've been renting my home out for about a year and just had my first bad experience with how the home was left (and learned a lot in the process).  First, the couple (and their three year old) stayed for 2.5 weeks and the place was extremely messy (I have a three bedroom, 2 ba home and they used every single towel/dish, etc.)  The laundry time alone took my cleaners 5 hours.  Also, their 3 year old just generally did a number on the place: pen and markers on very nice upholstered furniture, horrible damage to a very nice lamp (maybe the same pen to scratch the heck out of it) child hand prints and scuff marks all over the walls.  When confronted with pictures, the renter was apologetic and told me to withhold cleaning fees, etc.  My question is how to determine what deposit to withhold?  I've had some damage before but always chalked it up to the cost of doing business.  The pen won't come out of the furniture, the $100 lamp is destroyed (and part of a set) and in addition to extra cleaning, I spent hours scrubbing all of the walls.  I'm just hesitant to withhold the entire $500 for fear of a bad review, etc.  Any advice out there? 


Also, I'm thinking of simply not renting to people with small children.  The only other damage I've experienced seemed to happen with small kids.  Has anyone else done this and has it hurt their ability to rent the property?

  • stjvilla Active Contributor 626 posts since
    May 27, 2011

    We are so sorry you had this happen.  In our experience, two parents and one child seem to be a better fit as the parents are keeping an eye on the child, especiialy one so young.  However, clearly this was not the case in your home.  Certainly the parents know that it was not just a matter of cleaning fees; we would suggest you charge them a depreciated value for the lamp and the furniture if you are sure they are ruined.  It doesn't seem as though the $500 will cover replacement.  We would send them an itemized list of damage and values along with your photos to explain why you are keeping their deposit. 


    Depending on who usually rents your SF home, you may consider not renting to children.  Guess you will need to define "child."  Or take a larger security deposit.  We wouldn't worry too much about a bad review as they have already acknowleged the damage and seen the photo evidence.


    A few minor suggestions that have worked for us: never leave all the linens out where guests can get to them - they will use every one.  If we have guests staying for 10 days or more, we arange a brief visit by our cleaner mid-way to "check on supplies" such as paper goods, but they are really there to check on the place.  At that point, linens could be changed out if you wish, but it could certainly help to let the guests know someone will be stopping by while they are still in residence.


    Others will undoubtedly have some excellent advice.  Best wishes!

  • thaxterlane Active Contributor 786 posts since
    Jul 27, 2011

    It's very frustrating and disappointing to have such damage from guests staying in your home. 


    There have been several conversations, one in the last day or two, about charging security deposits for damages.


    Try searching on the terms "security deposit damage", "security deposit hold back", "security deposit wthhold", and, of course, "security deposit" for many threads that explore all aspects of administering a security deposit.




    You can withhold the cost of replacement, repair, and cleaning of damages caused by the guests.


    Present invoices and receipts for the purchase, repair, etc of the damages to the guests.  If you put in your own time, present it as hours worked, supplies - if any - purchased, and determine the hourly rate to charge based on the usual cleaning fees for your home.


    Check the terms of your agreement - what requirments and procedures have you cited for handling of the senurity deposit and any damages to your home?  And do you require guests to wash dishes?  To do the laundry?  Is the house to be left in "condition found"?


    You are working with a coopeartive guest; that's an advantage.  Many guests, based on conversations in the forum, are unwilling to accept responsibility which creates more problems.


    You may wish to talk with propsective guests about what you expect of children in the future.  As far as not renting to children, there have been converstions in the forum about whether children are a proected class under HUD laws   Some advise against using language prohibiting children in adveritising (which is likely illegal) and instead present your home as not a good fit for young children (this could be due to floor plan, furnishings, etc.  When screening a propsective guest it would be appropriate to cite your expectations for children's behvaior.  If you are seriously considering not renting to children you should review the federal and state housing laws and might want to consult an attorney.


    Best of luck in getting everything back in order.

  • anja Senior Contributor 1,560 posts since
    Aug 9, 2011

    Ugh, I feel very sorry for  you.  I can relate to finding the place completely messed up, misused and very dirty....and, it wasn't always because there were children in the mix, at my place. The majority of my guests, with - without  children have been great.  Always, it's not the child's fault:  the adults are the responsible ones and you've had a "couple" of very irresponsible, sloppy  and disregarding people do this to your place. The child was not supervised ...but that "adult"  couple were just plain slobs who are poor at housekeeping {can you imagine what their own home must look like?} --- their own standard is low, so they had no embarrassment leaving another person's house a mess!    It always amazes me.


    But, as they have not disputed, and you have the photos, I wouldn't be afraid to charge them whatever the "bill" is ...and do include "your time" to clean.   Do you have their "apology = confession" in an email, by chance?  {I hope case they change their story after you charge can legally keep the entire $500 for this situation}....if you should have to respond to a "negative review" least you have their "apology = confession" in writing that you could use  (save it for awhile)!   And, keep those photos for some time!!!! So, you'll have to decide in the end how much to fair to yourself to cover your expense.


    You may not discriminate, by law, against families with children. But, it's your home and if you want to market to a more mature guest,  then advertise your place to attract your "targeted guest".  For example:  "A couple's dream hide-away",  "Perfect for couples seeking privacy",  "A business person's choice location"--- or, something like that.


    You would still have the flexibility to rent to someone with a child - on a case-by-case basis --- just be very specific in your "house use guidelines". I find that my house guidelines with "RULES" for "families with children" can work to de-select automatically the "wrong types".   Some people will not rent if they are the types that think because they "paid" they and  their children should just have "the run of the place".  And....that's  exactly what my "house use rule" is designed to do ....weed out those types!  I welcome most who want to stay...and have not had any further problems.


    I had more (messy) problems when I permitted 2 children.  Then, I limited occupancy to ONE child. So, my ad states a maximum occupancy of 3 people {2 adults + infant, child, or third adult}.   I have rules for "families with children" {basic no-nos}...and ONE of the rules is "no markers", "no pens", "no paints" {after I had one sofa and a coffee table drawn upon with magic markers!}  And, I have an "Amenity List For Children" where I list what  I supply for them.  I have "safe", age-specific toys, dvds, crayons {they wash off easily}, paper/coloring books, and the like --- for indoor entertainment.  There are beach toys for outdoor entertainment on their "Amenity" list. Just be  specific with rules and give them something to play with that you think would be safe - both for them...and for your home.  On occasion, a parent will tell me that they don't want their child to have the crayons, for example...then  I know that they are "responsible types"....but...the children have an amoire where all "their" things are parents can pick and choose what they want them to play with.  I haven't  had any problems with children, since.


    I screen who inquires, I decide in the end whether they are a good fit for my place {often it's their own questions that tip me off}. I turn many away because I have two small units that can not work well for large families! By law, I think I'd get into more trouble if I overloaded my place, and something went terribly wrong {someone gets hurt}, than if I "limit" the number of occupancy that I permit in a one-bedroom unit.

    P.S. I think that you can get that pen ink off the upholstery --- I did, once,  using a solution made for removing grafitti  [but be careful....I first asked the guy who did my upholstery if the fabric would hold up did...the ink was removed].  You should ask a pro cleaner, first.

  • codcape Contributor 70 posts since
    Apr 3, 2012

    i agree with the above as well - get pros in, tally it up and charge them the amount it will take to get your home back to the way it was.  i would not worry about a bad review, how could they do it? have pics.  besides, maybe they'll watch their kids in the future.


    drives me nuts, people with small kids.  when my kids were small i'd watch them like a hawk.  i had a similar situation in the past as well.  young couple with 2 small, young children (3 and under).  they were from an expensive town and acted like they were all that and then some.  claimed they were looking at property in the area.  right!...anyone can look - try buying some property.  when i was inside showing them the house the older of the two kids ran upstairs and my brother was waiting for me in the car (i was handing them the keys) and saw the kid climb on the dresser to look out the window.  i came back to pen marks, game pieces all over the house, some small decorations that were broken and hidden under the bed.  they attempted to rent from me again, i told them i wasn't interested.


    done venting!


    also, i would add - i scotch guarded the furniture - spray it on in the back yard.  it seems to help.


    it kills me how hard we property owners work yet we're affraid to charge for damage.  i must say, i'm the same way but right is right.  i edited my my contract to state something like...the norm for cleaning the house is 1.5 hrs with 2 people, anything more is $100 per hr.  i've yet to charge anyone but that rule came because of a slob i had last year.  i figure if my brother and i have to exceed our limit then they're paying for lunch - which is 2 beers each, a burger/sandwich, overlooking cape cod bay ;-)


    good luck!

  • New Member 1 posts since
    Jul 13, 2012

    Just read your post.

    I am sorry about the damage, this happens now and then. You need to check with local laws and state laws for a give back time frame. For example, VA has only 30 days, giving owners and managers time to shop and order and repair situation/ damage. We do have to legally establish receipts and more at times.

    Also children are protected, so be careful . Virginia and many areas around the country have occupancy laws that are local. In our county they even define an age. So occupancy would be the key and you do not want to have it overpacked anyway, makes everything tougher.

    As a property manager, we charge 500 damage deposits- we have hot-tubs involved however which can cost.

    You can charge and escrow whatever you desire, perhaps up the deposit - people really want their 500 back and when we did this over 5 years ago - we had alot less issues overall.

    Good luck, hang in there, mostly we get excellant people. I do wish there was a way, when we do have to hold a deposit, besides replying to the review, that we could cancel that review on these sites..

    That is always the issue, and in our case we have to withhold damage deposits to protect the owners. Then they do give a bad review - we do reply they are upset since we had to withhold damage deposits but it then looks like we are trying to undermine them. So perhaps in the future there will be a way for all owners and managers to repesent the facts to homeaway or vrbo before a negative review over damages is placed on line.

    Overall , best of luck and good advice above on furniure- we always call in professionals, in order to establish detail abut damage.

  • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 865 posts since
    Sep 10, 2011

    I had my first major damage as well this past week by the family of a very prominent and well known football coach. A lot of damage was inflicted in my property.  But I went to the rental agency who rented my property and demanded every dime (depreciated).  While I believe I do well financially I know that I am not on the same level as the renter and thought they would tell me to go pound sand but instead they happily gave me everything that I asked for.

  • mtngir64 New Member 3 posts since
    Apr 23, 2014

    I just had a really nice family with three boys stay at my cabin.  We have a dart board and they broke every single dart (six of them) in half and tore the flites off (the little flags on the end).  The darts weren't overly expensive so my husband just said forget about it and take the dart board down.  However, I have found that kids are a bit like dogs, no disrespect, I have a teenager who was once a small child, when they get BORED THEY GET DESTRUCTIVE.  Really nice family though and I didn't take anything out of their deposit, they wanted to stay another night and left me a check on the island in the kitchen so I just dealt with it.

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