What is considered "normal" wear and tear on a room rental and can I hold back a cleaning fee from the security deposit?

We rented a private room and bathroom to someone for 3 months. When he moved in the bathroom was spotless.

Then I did a walk through with him when he moved out and he said he cleaned the bathroom "the best he could."

I glanced at everything and gave him his security deposit back.

The next morning, I went in to look at the bathroom a little more closely, and there was dirt and soap scum all over the tub and sink. The floor was dirty as well. I think he used a "spray" and wipe cleaner when he really needed some comet or ajax and some elbow grease.

I spent about 20 minutes with comet and a scrub sponge swirling paste in little circles all over the tub and rinsed to a mirror finish. My wife spent 5 minutes cleaning the floor, and I spent 5 minutes cleaning the sink and mirrors. He left the toilet and surrounding area clean.

So I told my wife that a kinda dirty bathroom is normal wear and tear, and she is arguing that he didn't return it the way we gave it to him and that we should assess a "cleaning fee."

What is the right answer? Should we have assessed a fee to clean, and if so how much. My wife and I are nowhere neat/clean freaks...and its not like there was mud, poop, or pee smeared everywhere...but it just wasn't up to the standard it needed to be for the next person.

11 Answers

  • SteveN
    Lv 7
    3 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I tend to agree with your assessment. Some people are just not naturally adept at cleaning. Like your wife, if I moved out of any rental I was in, I'd want the place to be as spotless as I could make it. Mainly because I don't like people thinking that I was a filthy slob.

    On the other hand, I have heard terrible stories of homeowners going into a rental to clean up between tenants only to find garbage strewn on the floor, feces and urine in places you don't expect, broken cabinets and light fixtures, holes in the drywall, and so on.

    I'd say this was just a bachelor who tries to do a basic cleaning job. His parents may never have taught him how to remove the toilet seat to get at crud around it, or get in the shower with a scrubber to remove soap scum build-up. I don't think it would qualify as an excessive mess that would warrant any of the security deposit for damages.

  • S
    Lv 7
    3 years ago

    to late to do anything about it now but your wife is correct you should have taken a cleaning fee from the deposit. But remember not all people have the same cleaning standards you have to give a bit when you rent a property.

  • 3 years ago

    "[I] gave him his security deposit back"

    OK, so what are you gonna withhold the cleaning fee from? Too late, isn't it?

  • 3 years ago

    I'm with you. Sounds normal. No fee.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 3 years ago

    It's too late to hold back a cleaning fee. You already gave him the deposit back. Something being left not quite perfectly clean is not "wear and tear", which refers to scuffs, dents, scratches, carpet getting worn. I'd say that if half an hour of cleaning is the worst the tenant left you with, you got off easy. I once spent ten days, ten 12-hour days, cleaning a 2 bedroom plus basement house, not to mention the cost of disposing of the garbage, after tenants left. If half an hour of cleaning is even something you'd mention, maybe you aren't cut out to be landlords. I can guarantee that you'll come across worse eventually.

    There is also the issue of what you may legally charge a tenant for, according the landlord/tenant laws where you live. Where I live, someone renting a room in your house, rather than a self-contained apartment, is not covered under those laws and none of them apply to that situation.

  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

    If carpeted, landlords have the carpet professionally cleaned and the charges are taken from the deposit.. this is done after every rental,no exceptions.

  • Anonymous
    3 years ago

    50 bucks

  • 3 years ago

    basic cleaning is usually required anytime a tenant moves out and is usually not a reason the damage deposit can be withheld.

    doing an hour of maintenance & cleaning after a tenant moves out is on the low end from what I hear about from others that rent out rooms/houses.

  • 3 years ago

    he may have honestly done the best he could. my parents never taught me how to clean a shower. If it wasn't for the internet Istill wouldn'y know. I used bathroom cleaner and wiped down walls...had to look up what to do when that didn't work.

    but not knowing how to clean doesn't absolve him from the responsibility.

    I would let it go though. you should have been more diligent before returning the deposit. Not worth the fight.

    yes you can still charge for time even after giving the fee back...as long as you are within the state time limit to notify of damages...

    at most this would be $25

  • 3 years ago

    You already gave him the deposit back, and you are not allowed to charge for your own time. Lesson learned. Too late to charge fees.

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.