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We had some minor damage by one renter. I think if it was any one thing I would ignore it but it was several small things. They broke two juice glasses, got crayon/marker on a decorative table runner (might have to toss but it wasn't a prized posession), crayon/marker on a table (2 month old table ) and a small food stain on the sofa. I think I would have ignored any one or two but all together I felt these people did not take care for my house as expected. My real concern is the table, brand new coffee table from L.L. Bean, it wasn't cheap. The cleaners couldn't get the stain off so I'm guessing its a magic marker not crayon. The cleaners are going to make another attempt to clean the table so I still have my fingers crossed.
If you could not get a marker off the table would you hold the deposit? It's an ivory colored table so its a bit noticeable.
Damage is Damage. This is above wear and tear in my opinion. I would notify the guests of the damages and say that you are trying to get table cleaned but if it doesn't clear up that you will be getting some estimates from your contactors for re-finishing the table. Then deduct the expense from the clients SD. Make sure to keep detailed records and receipts of everything. Then scan invoice and forward to guest when work is complete.
I've only been in this position a couple times, but the first step was always to let the renter know as soon as I found it and before I issued their Damage Deposit refund - even though I was still in the process of trying to see if I could clean it without having to charge them. Most importantly I didn't want to release their DD because once it is released it's gone. But by the same token, I feel it is VERY important to keep people informed if you're not going to refund it right away. If they don't hear from you that it has been refunded, nor see it on their online statement, they will immediately think the worst, get overly defensive, or perhaps even go on the offense.
I let them know that I am trying to simply clean it, but if it can't be cleaned or repaired, I'll have to pass on the cost for external services or time and materials - and it will take a few days to exhaust that research. Ask for their patience as you try to find the least expensive but acceptable to you solution.
I my case, both times the renters were receptive. One time I had to keep $100 to fix a chair, the other time I was able to just repair the chair (yes, another chair!) with glue and a screw myself so I didn't charge them. Both renters were happy with the outcome, primarily because I kept them informed of my progress and my looking out for them.
Ask for their patience as you try to find the least expensive but acceptable to you solution.
While I agree that one should communicate with the guest, and perhaps invite the guest to arrange for cleaning/repair by someone of their choice (but also acceptable to the owner), it is important to know what your state law says regarding the time in which deposits must be refunded to the tenant or an accounting must be delivered for any deposit which is retained. Failing to comply with whatever deadline is specified risks not only losing the damage deposit, but, in most places, also being obligated to pay attorney fees to the guest.
I have not contacted them yet but I will. We had renters coming in right after them the cleaners didn't have enough time to have a good chance to clean it (the renters were also out a 1/2 hour late).
Any opinions on stains on the sofas? We made a mistake of getting a light colored sofa. We did well this spring with no stains but last year there was some kind of small stain about every 3 renters. Are small stains expected and part of the business? Or is thes considered beyon normal wear and tear? I do intend on getting a cover for the sofa but sometimes I'm not sure what is acceptable. We have been able to clean most of the stains off and had it completely cleaned this spring but its already looking aged from all the spot cleaning and its only been thru 20 or so rentals and our stays.
Is there an area in community where 'normal wear and tear' are listed?
We have no kids so I think our perspective of no wear and tear is a bit different than others. I have a 15 year old sofa in my house and it has two stains on it so I just don't see how all these people spending 3 days to a week stain the couch so confistantly.
re: stains on the sofa - First try the Tide stain remover pen. It works quite often at getting small stains out, including some ink pen stains.
For us, since our homes have a relaxed feel to them, we've put SureFit throws over all the couches - whether perfectly new or marked and stained. It's preventative for the new ones (but realistically, grape juice would still stain a sofa underneath), and cosmetic for the old ones. It's also a great layer of protection for people who insist on sleeping on the sofa-sleepers without opening them up. Greasy hair on a sofa arm stains forever....
Sofa sleepers require the throw-type cover, but other sofas and love seats can use really nice fitted covers.
I know that Walmart and Target and others have covers in the store, but it's always been hit or miss quality for me when we buy them. We've had much better luck with our Surefit.com purchases (there are companies as well of course, but when I find something that works, I usually stay with it...)
Here's the thing, whether or not you find stains on your sofa acceptable will be different based on your point of view. As an owner, I'd think, of course it's acceptable. It is, after all, a rental property, what do you expect? As a guest, however, I'd be put off by stains on a sofa and wonder what else hasn't been cared for properly. Difficult to balance.
It's a simple philosophy, but appropriate for most things: communicate early and often.
If you have to go to extra lengths to clean the table, I would certainly consider withhold funds to cover it.
Magic Erasers are absolutely magic.
As to the sofa, a carpet cleaner once provided me a can of "Vandalism Remover" and chances are, it would remove the sofa stain. It's worked on everything I've applied it to....
...It did not however, dissolve my teen's behavior.
That said, if you're kid-friendly, then I think the random marks and spills should be expected as normal wear and tear rather than damage. Just my opinion though and I agree with Mike: the owner perspective differs from the guest's.
The only "damage" that you list that I would consider true damage is the mark on the table. And an appropriate cleaning agent, chosen for the material/finish, should remove it unless it is indelible ink or the table doesn't have a protective finish and it has permeated the material. We have topped a few pieces of furniture - side tables, bureaus, a sideboard - with glass because they are vintage and the wood may not stand up to use. I've learned that our guests will put beverage glasses on any flat surface (sans a coaster, which are available throughout the house).
I haven't charged for damages to table top accessories. I usually update form year to year - it's an inexpensive way to brighten and freshen the house, especially for returning guests (yes, they notice). In the past few years I have furnished placemats and table coverings made of materials that will stand up to wear and tear, such as a set of hardboard placemats. They have held up beautifully. We have a selection of table runners that I have treated with scotch guard that seem to do fine. They are machine washable and can be laundered from week to week if necessary.
We have always chosen deep (not necessarily dark) tones for our upholstered furniture because accidental stains happen. I am somewhat of a klutz so I understand when we find stains on various seating surfaces. I've been known to knock a glass of red wine over from time to time and have seriously considered giving it up for white wine. (If only this could be a house rule! And spaghetti sauce should be prohibited as well.)
We rent to families and I haven't found children to be particularly destructive. We've had the occasional crayon mark on a wall or surface but nothing that can't be removed with washing, spray cleaner, or covered by a quick touch of paint.
I may be in the minority on this forum, but I have not held back funds from a guest's security deposit. We have never had damage worthy of holding funds. Perhaps we have been very fortunate, but we do accept broken tableware, stains on carpeting and upholstery, marks on walls, knife marks on counters, etc as normal wear and tear. Things do get broken and stained. Guests won't and can't be expected to tiptoe around the house. That wouldn't make for a very enjoyable stay.
I hope the mark comes off your table. Good luck in the future!