Moving Out?

Dear Tenants,

If you are thinking of breaking your lease it is imperative that you read the article below entitled “Breaking a Lease can Entail Steep Costs.”

Please find below a list of move out tips and notices that we HAVE personally delivered to your homes. Most of your questions and concerns should be answered here. If you do not find an answer please contact us.

Breaking A Lease Can Entail Steep Costs

– Robert Griswold
Sunday, August 28, 2005

Answers are provided by Robert Griswold, a property manager certified by the Institute of Real Estate Management and author of “Property Management for Dummies”; and lawyers Steven R. Kellman, director of the Tenants Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a firm representing landlords.

Q: I have a lease that runs for nearly eight more months. I needed to break my lease because I was laid off from my job.

My landlord has re-rented the flat to another tenant, who will move in the day after I leave. My landlord rented the flat for $130 less per month, and he is trying to collect the difference from my $3,900 security deposit for the rest of the lease, 7 1/2 months, or $975.

I know I owe him for the costs of re-renting the flat, but according to the lease and the Civil Code, it says he can’t collect double rent. Can he do this?

Landlords’ attorney Smith replies: When tenants break their leases, they are responsible for rent for the balance of the term.

As the landlord’s attorney, I am going to give the landlord the benefit of the doubt on the facts.

It appears that $130 per month on the shortfall is the best he could do in the present market at the time of your move out.

Consider the landlord’s dilemma. He could hold out for the same rate or higher. This could take some time. Or, as here, he could re-rent the unit immediately for $130 a month less.

If the landlord can prove that was the best rent he could get, then you’re going to be responsible for the difference.

Holding you responsible for the shortfall is not collecting double rent.

Q: I am two months into a one-year lease agreement in a rental house.

I recently was given an opportunity to change my career. However, the job change meant moving to another firm more than 45 miles away.

I spoke with my landlord before I accepted the job and asked if he would be willing to work with me regarding getting out of the lease.

I suggested a three-month notice and that I would pay any expenses he may incur, and I also proposed that he keep my entire $500 security deposit.

He said we could work something out, so the next day I accepted the job. Later that same day, I received a call from my landlord advising me that he was going to require me to fulfill the full terms of the lease.

Is there any way I can get out of the lease due to a change in my career in another city?

I am even willing to give a six-month notice and pay further expenses.

Smith replies: I’m afraid not. Your job transfer is not legal justification for your breach of lease. The landlord can hold you to the term.

California law requires the landlord to mitigate damages, that is, make a diligent effort to market the property to qualified replacement tenants.

Such efforts include advertising, listing, showing and posting signs.

As long as the landlord can show proper diligence, you will be held responsible for the vacancy factor, together with advertising expenses and administration costs.

Hopefully, the landlord will be successful in releasing the property so that your liability can be minimized.

Questions can be submitted to Rental Roundtable, Real Estate Section, San Francisco Chronicle, 901 Mission St., San Francisco, CA 94103, or by e-mail to rgriswold.chronicle@retodayradio.com .

Truth Lies and Security Deposits

Every year on May 25 we find a group or two that have been caught off guard when it comes time to move and clean. I remember hearing “we’ve been cleaning all day” from a group that was behind. In fact, they had been MOVING all day. Moving and cleaning are two totally different things.

There is quite a bit of information here. However, it is important information. If you take the time to read it, you won’t get caught off guard yourselves. Read it carefully, as we are telling you up front how to MAXIMIZE the return of your Security Deposit.

This is a busy time of year. You have finals, friends, family and summer on your minds. If you want to have a great summer (not your parents screaming at you about security deposits) you need to allow time to clean and move too.

SECURITY DEPOSITS

The Myth:

Management companies will do whatever they can to keep your deposit, and you will have to fight to get it back.

The Truth:

Your deposit is held to pay for any damages (financial or physical) that you cause, and we would like NOTHING better than to give it all back!!

In fact, if you read through all of this material, follow the instructions, and don’t have any outstanding balances owing, you will be very happy with the check that is returned to you.

However, you get out what you put in. If you wait until the last minute or expect that you can move and clean 12 months worth of dust and fingerprints in an afternoon, you will be disappointed.

On the following pages you will find helpful lists of things that will make your cleaning easier, as well as tips as to what, and how much to clean. We even go as far as to tell you what other people have missed, so you won’t.

STUFF YOU’LL NEED LIST

  • Paper towels galore and/or cleaning rags
  • Old Toothbrush (you can use your room mate’s in a pinch, we won’t tell)
  • Trash Bags
  • Scrub Brush
  • Sponges with one side that scrubs
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Broom and Dustpan
  • Mop
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Bathroom Cleaner
  • Glass Cleaner
  • Dishwashing Detergent
  • Radio
  • TIME*

Cleaning product hint: Miracle cleaners, like “scrubbing bubbles” and “toilet ducks” rarely work. You will get more done, in less time, and for less money if you purchase tried and true products, such as: Comet cleanser, 409, bleach, and Windex brand glass cleaner.

These cleaners are also inexpensive, so purchase enough that three people cleaning in different rooms aren’t sharing one bottle of 409.

*TIME – To play it extra safe, budget 4 hours of cleaning (real hard scrubbing, taking things to the dump, not “planning”) for each month you have lived in your home.

Start Early!

You can not expect to move and clean your home, no matter how much help you have, in one day. If you are going to successfully clean your home, you need to have a game plan BEFORE the day you move. While you can’t clean everything weeks in advance, you can get started.

  • Sort through closets and storage areas and get rid of things you no longer need.
  • Start packing things you can do without. The less you have to pack and organize on moving day the better off you will be. Label boxes so you can retrieve the toothbrush you mistakenly packed.
  • Dispose of the furniture you will not be taking with you. Old couches and chairs can be troublesome. Don’t get caught short trying to figure out how to get them to the dump on moving day.
  • Pre-clean the really dirty, or hard to clean things like bathtubs and showers, stoves and ovens, refrigerator and windows. These things are time consuming to clean. If you do them early, you will just have to do a quick wipe down before you move.

Clean in the correct order:

  • On cleaning day, after you have moved all of your belongings out, clean in the correct order. Don’t waste your time cleaning floors if people are still cleaning and moving around, or you will have to clean them twice.
  • You will find that you can get more done, and more quickly if you pick a room to start in, and don’t leave that room until it is done. Cleaning a little here and a little there is not efficient.

Room by Room Cleaning tips:

Kitchen:

  • Clean all appliances, inside and out. Lift up the top of the stove and clean out all the gook. Clean the oven. If you can’t get all of the burned on stuff off the stove burner rings and pans, either wrap them in aluminum foil, or purchase replacements at Wal Mart. (SAVE the old ones, no matter what condition they are in. Just leave them on the counter)
  • Clean UNDER the drawers in the refrigerator.
  • Clean the door seals on the refrigerator and dishwasher.
  • Clean grease splatters on the stove hood and wall behind the stove with a degreaser like 409.
  • Vacuum, and then wipe out all cabinets and drawers with a damp cloth.
  • Clean windows, window tracks, baseboards and floors.

WARNING: Do not get oven cleaner on ANYTHING but the inside of the oven. It will eat through paint and discolor chrome and plastic. Read the directions carefully!

DO NOT move appliances. If it is necessary, WE will clean under the stove. This is MUCH cheaper than paying for a damaged kitchen floor.

Bathrooms:

  • Scrub the toilet, shower and bathtub. Be sure to remove all soap scum from the shower / tub. This takes some elbow grease, and the right cleaner. For bathtubs, use Comet cleanser. This works for showers as well, but be sure not to scratch the surface.
  • Mildew can easily be eliminated by cleaning with bleach. Just spray it on, let it sit a few minutes then rinse with clear water.
  • Bleach poured into the toilet will remove most stains, but scrubbing may be required.
  • Clean all cabinets, and drawers. Clean the medicine cabinet.
  • Clean the mirrors and windows with Windex.
  • After scrubbing, chrome faucets can be “polished” by cleaning with Windex.
  • Wipe down spots on the walls and ceilings with a damp rag and some 409.
  • Clean the floors and baseboards last.

Bedrooms and Common Rooms:

  • Vacuum or broom cobwebs from all corners (both floor and ceiling)
  • Dust off the shelves in closets.
  • Remove all nails and staples that were used to hang pictures (do NOT patch holes).
  • Wash baseboards.
  • Clean windows and window tracks.
  • Clean floors (on your way out the door).
  • Do NOT attempt to clean the carpets, or have them cleaned.

Walls:

  • Walls should NOT be washed. If not done properly you can do more damage than good. You SHOULD wipe down door jambs and doors, as well as remove scuff marks and small spots on walls, but the wholesale washing of walls should not be done.

Outside (yards and parking area)

  • Be sure both front and back yards are clean of all litter, including beer cans and bottles, paper, cigarette butts etc.
  • Trash barrels must be neat, with lids closed. DO NOT put anything beside the trash barrel or dumpster.
  • Broom down all screens (take care not to bend them).
  • Common areas, such as laundry rooms and shared parking / yard areas are YOUR responsibility. Work out a plan with your neighbors to get them clean. If they are not cleaned, we will split the cost to do so between ALL tenants.

Keys: Leave all keys on the kitchen counter and lock the doors behind you.

Commonly Missed Items

Smoke Detectors:

Your home was equipped with them when you moved in, they had batteries, and were working. If you have removed them, replace them, and the batteries.

Screens:

This year, we replaced EVERY screen on EVERY property we own. If you have bent one, removed one, or torn one, have it fixed before we do. It will be less expensive for you to take the screen to a glass shop, than it will be for us to call out our contractor.

Locks:

The locks and latches on your home’s doors (including bedrooms) are part of a very elaborate company wide key system. If you have replaced any locks with those of your own, we STRONGLY suggest that you put the company locks back on the doors before you leave. Locksmithing is VERY expensive. We use (and will accept) only Kwikset brand locks.

Yards and Storage:

Your yard, and any storage areas must be left as clean and ready as the rest of your home. Moving includes ALL areas of the property. Any items left behind that are clearly not “trash” will be removed and stored (for a daily fee) off-site.

Trash:

The trash company will ONLY pick up items placed in a dumpster or trash barrel. If you have “extra” trash piled around the dumpster or trash barrels, it will be removed at an extra cost by our contractors. The trash company will NOT pick up couches, tires, beds, or large items. If we have to remove these items, we charge for them.

Here are some rates:

  • Couch – $45.00 EACH
  • Stuffed Chair: – $35.00 EACH
  • Mattress: – $45.00 EACH
  • Tires: – $35.00 EACH
  • Bags of trash: – $15.00 EACH
  • Sweep, clean up trash around property because of improper disposal: $45.00 per HOUR.

Wiring:

If you have installed an extra phone line, network, cable, dsl or other line, remove it before you go. If these devices were installed by a professional, you may leave them.

Automobiles:

If there is a non-running or un-registered vehicle on the premises at the end of your lease, it will be towed at your expense the day we take the property back.

Security Deposit Information

To: All Tenants – PLEASE POST
From: ChicoForRent
RE: Moving, Lease-end and Security Deposits

Over the last few weeks we have been showing your houses, and several of you have asked the same questions. For those that haven’t, here are the answers anyway:

SECURITY DEPOSITS:

“When will I get my security deposit back?”

  • California law allows us 21 days to account for, and return any balance of your security deposit due. We do everything we can to get security deposits back to you well before the 21 days are up. You can greatly speed up the return of your security deposit by leaving your home “move in ready” for the next tenant… The less time we have to spend cleaning and fixing, the more time we can spend writing checks.

“Where will you send it?”

  • Your deposit will be mailed to the one address that you email to us. If you do not email an address we will send it to your ChicoForRent address and the post office will forward it to the forwarding address you provided them.

“What if I didn’t break it?”

  • Your lease agreement is a “joint and several” agreement… In plain English, EACH tenant is responsible for his own actions, and the actions of all other tenants and guests. What does this mean to you? IF there are security deposit charges, we won’t be having the discussion about WHO was at fault. That is for YOU to figure out and deal with BEFORE we make any deductions from your deposit.

HOLDING OVER:

We will not allow any holding over (staying beyond your lease term). Your lease expiration date is in your lease. You were aware of this date when you signed the lease, and we can not make extensions for any reason. We have many homes to work through, clean and make ready for the next tenants that are expecting to move in on a specified date. We are reminding you WELL IN ADVANCE that if you are graduating, having a party etc., and “just can’t be out”, that you have no choice. Our crews will be entering and making repairs and cleaning for the next residents starting at 9:00am on the day your lease expires. Please make plans NOW to be out at the end of your lease.

You ARE ready to get cleaning aren’t you?