Q. If an outgoing tenant fails to clean the rental satisfactorily, that is, according to the standards of the landlord, and does not return it to the condition it was in at the time he/she took possession, can the landlord bill for his/her time and deduct from the deposit. In the particular case I am citing, the tenant did the final walk through and filled out the check list, but noted that he did his best to return the apartment to its original condition, and then ran out of time. He acknowledged that he had not cleaned the oven, around and behind the refrigerator, and some of the window and door tracks. These were items the landlord had brought to the tenant’s attention but had not put in writing. However, keep in mind that the tenant did not dispute the unsatisfactory condition of these items. If the landlord has indicated that the cost of cleaning would be billed at $20 an hour with a $100 cap and the tenant agrees in writing, can the landlord then proceed to do the work or must an outside contractor be hired?
A. This question has less to do with the cleaning that was or wasn’t done in the unit and more about who can do the work. I
never recommend that an owner do work in their unit themselves if they will be charging the tenant for the labor cost. It is always better to use a professional third party so there can be no question as to price or quality of the work. In this instance, however, the tenant has agreed in writing to allow the landlord to do the cleaning at a prearranged price with a cap on the amount that will be charged. If both tenant and landlord agree on something then there should be no problem.
Answers to questions in Landlord Tenant Q&A, a weekly feature, are provided by members of the Oahu Chapter of the National Association of Residential Property Managers (NARPM).
NARPM is the only real estate organization dedicated exclusively to residential property management. Its stated mission is to support the professional and ethical practices of rental home management through networking, education, and certification. The organization is now represented in approximately 24 states and has a total membership of over 2,000.
The Oahu Chapter, founded in 2004, has become the largest in the nation with 145 registered members.
Disclaimer: The answers provided in this column by Realtors address individual cases and should not be construed as interpretations of the law. For specific information on Hawaii State Law, go to http:// hawaii.gov / dcca / areas / ocp / landlord_ tenant or contact your attorney.