How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning?

   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #1  


Platinum Member
Sep 4, 2007
Near Portland, Oregon
New Holland TC33D, LT4000
I was trying to find the right forum for this, Related Topics seemed appropriate enough.

I have a small quandary I'd like some advice on. A few years ago, for some long forgotten reason, I thought it would be a "good idea" to invest in some rental property. Long story short, I bought a small house, got some renters, rented it out for the last three years.

Well, now the renters have moved out and I went down to clean the house in prep for the new renters. I get down there, and the front yard looks great, with the exception that the lawn obviously had not really been watered this summer. I walk inside all set for some serious cleaning, and the house looked spotless! I was pretty happy at that point.

I get to the garage, and there's a 2x2' area where the drywall was all banged up, with holes and dents in it. Apparently the teenage son had thought the car was in reverse, but had it in drive.... So, there's that to fix.

I looked at the inside of the house closer, and I found a couple places with a LOT of wax in the carpet, and dripped down the wall. (Future paint jobs will be fun in that area).

I then get to the back yard. What was once a beautifully landscaped back yard was now thick with weeds, especially in the flower beds. My wife filled 6 of the large yard debris bags with just weeds. Also, I had put in new grass, and it obviously had not been taken care of. The thing is that for the first 2.5 years, it had looked great, but about 6 months ago apparently they started looking to buy a house, and all yard work stopped. I had gotten a bit lax in checking up on the place since they always kept it so nice.

Finally, the sprinkler system was damage and a head is missing. I didn't find this out until I was getting ready to leave and turned it on....

Well, the wife and I put in two full days worth of work cleaning up the place, putting in new plants, new bark mulch, cleaning the gutters, doing all the repair work (except for the sprinkler). I've still got to make at least three trips back: 3rd coat of mud on the drywall, primer, and then paint.

The question is, how much to charge? If they were bad renters, I would have no problem keeping the entire deposit, but they generally maintained the place well. They painted the walls (nothing wrong with the paint, they just didn't like the color), they painted the ceiling (again, nothing wrong), put in a new light fixture (wanted a ceiling fan) and were quick to notify me of problems that needed fixing. The house was always fairly clean inside, etc.

I figure I'll have a good 3+ hours into the drywall repair, not to mention it is a 50 minute drive one way on top of that (5 trips total). A contractor would probably charge $150 for that repair. The wax probably took an hour to get rid of (brown paper bags and an clothes iron). And then there was a good 10 hours into the back yard. (Yard maintenance was their responsibility per the contract.)

So, how much to charge? Do I charge them for the yard maintenance as well?

Any thoughts / opinions would be appreciated.
   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #2  
50 minutes one way to check on a rental property is a bit scary to me because a lot can happen quickly when you don't check on it regularly. A friend of mine had "good tenants" until they let a bunch of their friends move in, too. The friends kicked out all of the window screens, shot holes in the basement door, and dirtied the carpet like you wouldn't believe in a very short time frame. The kitchen stove looked like the nastiest people on earth had used it.

All it takes is one meth lab in your rental property....

I assume your lease says they were supposed to leave your property in as good a condition as when they moved in, less reasonable wear and tear. How much of the deposit you keep depends on how your value your time getting it back to the state it was supposed to be left in and what it would have cost to get this done by others. I don't think you should bill them for brain surgeon time, but charging them based on what it would cost in the market would seem appropriate.
   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #3  
Welcome to the world of rental property.

When you rented the house to the tenants you and the tenant should have completed an inventory/inspection, and when the tenant moved out the inventory and inspection should be revisted. All changes/damages, except for items that may be considered fair ware and tear, can be charged against the tenant. The yard should have been left mowed and trimmed but its a bit of a strech to expect the tenants will maintain flower beds and such. The dry wall repair is an easy fix, and pretty common. The candle wax is another easy fix and pretty common.

as far as I know if you do the work yourself you can not charge the tenant for labor. If you want the yard cleaned up, you can hire a yardman to do it and what ever he charges you can be deducted from the tenants deposit. Same with the dry wall repair, and any other repairs need to prepare the place for rental. It is my understanding, it you and your wife do the cleaning and make repairs you can only charge for the materials, but not the labor. In other words, if you make the repairs, your are working for free. At least thats the way it is in my state, you may want to check with yours.

There are always repairs and cleaning to be done where the move-out happens and its just part of renting houses. If your tenants were there for 3 years and paid the rent on time it apears like you came out ok. Rental property is a good investment and to some extent easy money but its not free money.

Hey, if it was me, I'd make repairs, do the cleaning and rent the place and move on....Good luck with rentals

   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #4  
I have some rental property and from what you have said you had a good tenant. If one of my tenants cleans the property up well when moving I try to give them at least some of their deposit back. The ones who do the most damage do not do any cleaning up at all when moving and you know this is because they do not expect to get any deposit back.

I try to estimate the damages fairly, at a price that I would pay some one to do them, and itemize the damages on a letter to them and deduct this from the deposit and enclose a check for the balance marked full settlement of deposit.

It is not fair to try to charge them for your 50 minute drives as it is not their fault that you live so far away and are doing the work.

And hope that your next tenant is as good as this one was.
   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #5  
How much is the deposit?

I grew up with rental properties and it's where I think I learned to repair and remodel homes. Every tennant will require some degree of repair and prep work to get the place ready for the next renter. There are things that you just expect to do in order to get it ready. Taking out trash, mowing the lawns, and painting the walls wold be normal wear and tear and not something to charge them for. Repairing sheetrock or anything broken is on them. Charge the actual price of the materials to avoid any tax issues. Then it's a simple matter of what your time is worth. If you have a regular job, figure this at your overtime rate. Then document it. Travel time usualy doesn't count. I start them on the clock from the time I get to the house or the store.

Now that I'm a contractor and get hired fairly often to do these things, it's all based on an hourly rate and to what degree that they want it ready to rent again. Most owners don't want to put too much money into a rental unit. The theory is that they will just trash it anyway. Unfortunately, that's more often the case.

I absolutely refuse to own rental property. If I buy a place, I rebuild it to resale and let the new buyer do with it as they wish. I make my profit when it sells and I don't have a single headache afterwards.

Good luck, it sounds like you have it pretty good.

   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #6  
I think you got out pretty good,(this time) As far as the interior I personally would charge for the materials or let it slide.

As far as the yard, I would probably charge for that, an honest reasonable fee for "disposal"

Save your aggravation for the idiot that leaves you with a remodel, then you'll have to call Eddy and pay him the big bucks to get r done.

Seems like they helped with the mortgage for a couple of years so you came out pretty good, all considered.
   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #7  
Sounds like you made out all right really.
Wait till you get a "gut job" of tearing it down to the studs and starting over.

First, a disclaimer: Check the landlord/tenant laws for **YOUR** state!
They're all different and you need to know where you stand before you make
a move. In my state, my labor is just as good as anyone's.

If you'd like a guide for move out charges, a good copy is in "Landlording" by
Leigh Robinson. ISBN 0-932956-21-1. I'm on my third copy. I've loaned it
out twice before and never saw them again. Hold on to yours. :)

Withholding a deposit is very much a judgment call. If the tenant paid on time
and left everything about as good as they found it, I let minor repairs slide.
Minor repairs occur after every move out.

The drywall I would charge for; Probably $25-$50 depending on size.
Lawn mowing type stuff is $50. Doubt I could find a good lawn service to beat that.
I generally don't charge for painting unless it's due to damage or stains.

As an aside, Join a landlords association for your area. Resources at our local have
been invaluable.

This got long all of a sudden. HTH
   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #8  
If the deposit will cover it, I always hire someone else to do the cleanup & repairs. That way there is no question about what the cost is.

If the deposit isn't going to cover all of the repairs, I do it myself but document more costs than the deposit so there isn't a legal fight. You need to document the costs for your taxes anyway.
   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning?
  • Thread Starter
Thanks for all of your replies. They've been helpful in guiding me to the right place. I'm checking into the local laws. I've found that I have 30 days to return the deposit, so that buys me some time.

   / How much to charge for rental repairs and cleaning? #10  
This is definitely a YMMV thing, but i think all your entitled to is Materials. If you want to get labour back youll have to contract someone else to come in and do it.

You likely wont get back the cost of the flower beds.

You should consider yourself fortunate that the damage was minor, and your renters were for the most part, good. As im sure you know, it can cost alot more than some drywall mud if bad tenants move in. I hope your next renters are as good as your last.