This week the question for Ask Landlord Hank is about how to deal with a tenant who moved out of a no-smoking rental that now reeks of marijuana. Remember Landlord Hank is not an attorney and is not giving legal advice.
Dear Landlord Hank,
I rent out a small condo whenever I’m not using it and I have a strict no smoking/no drugs rule in the lease.
My latest tenant just moved out and not 30 minutes later, I let a prospective new tenant see the property. I was on the phone with her when she walked in and the first words out of her mouth were that the place reeks of marijuana.
My neighbor also went into the condo with her and texted me the same thing. My question is, what do I do now? I still have his security deposit. Am I entitled to keep any portion of it as a penalty?
Dear Landlady Angela,
Smoke damage to a property is very real and you have witnesses who can verify that the property was smoked in.
If the furniture and walls are holding that smell, you can certainly use a tenant’s damage deposit to take care of it. You can try cleaning everything with vinegar/or ammonia and water, and airing out the unit. There are some companies (in my area they are carpet-cleaning companies) that have ozone machines that are turned on in a closed-off unit with the HVAC fan ON, closet and cabinet doors open for a day or two. The cost is reasonable and the smoke smell is gone.
You can’t keep the deposit as a penalty, only for actual expenses to make your property whole.
Do an extensive walk-thru inspection, because if your tenant was smoking in a no-smoking rental unit there is no telling what else may not be right.
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