June 19, 2024

Hi, there! Joe White here from Grow Property Management, your trusted property management company in Philadelphia.

A move-out inspection was conducted, and it was quite an ordeal. The tenants had vacated the property, prompting our final assessment to determine any deductions from their security deposit. Unfortunately, the condition they left the property in was abysmal. However, the standout issue I want to highlight is the furnace filter—or rather, the lack of maintenance thereof.

Upon inspecting the furnace, I discovered they had never bothered to change the filter. When I pulled it out, it was completely blackened with grime. Interestingly, we had actually provided replacement filters to the tenants, and each filter is dated upon installation to track changes. Next to the unused white replacement filter, the contrast was stark.

The real question here is how to fairly charge for such neglect. A neglected furnace filter places undue stress on the HVAC system, potentially leading to costly repairs. It also spreads dust throughout the property and into the ductwork, necessitating thorough cleaning.

Charging for this isn't straightforward. It's impractical to confront former tenants after they've moved out and levy charges based on post-move-out inspections. Instead, our property management company includes a predefined charge in the lease agreement for neglected furnace filters. This approach avoids confrontation and ensures clarity for both parties.

The fee itself isn't trivial; it's set to reasonably compensate landlords for the damage done to their property. While I can't disclose specific amounts due to regulations, it's neither nominal nor excessive—it's fair and justified. Such fees are essential to protect landlords' investments and encourage responsible tenant behavior.

My advice to landlords is clear: include explicit language in your lease agreements regarding furnace filter maintenance. Specify how often filters should be changed, and outline the consequences for neglecting this basic upkeep. Whether during routine inspections or move-outs, clarity in your lease terms ensures that you can enforce these policies without contention.

In managing rental properties, these insights are crucial for maintaining property value and ensuring a fair relationship with tenants. Remember, proactive measures and clear communication in lease agreements can prevent disputes and protect your investment in the long run.

Happy investing!