Q: I rent my vacation home to weekenders and weeklong residents on a regular basis. I collect a $250 deposit and allot five hours for cleaning between guest stays. Last month, the departing guests left the place so dirty and messy that the cleaners couldn't finish in time. When the new guests arrived, it wasn't done and they left, refusing to pay any rent. Can I sue the departed tenants for that lost rent? --John C. A: Whether you can sue your messy guests depends on what your lease says about the security deposit. If you've drafted a lease that has your interests in mind, the security deposit clause should explicitly say that the deposit will be used to cover unpaid rent and any damage or cleaning beyond normal wear and tear, and to replace damaged or missing items. It should also say that your remedies for such problems will not be limited to the security deposit. In other words, residents should be on notice that if their use results in expenses that excee...
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