Every state permits landlords to ask for a security deposit with the agreement to return it whenever the tenant wishes to leave the property in whatever state they found it in, with the exception of normal wear and tear. However, this term can be different depending on which property owner you talk to across the country. Some property owners might deem things as damaged and keep the tenant’s security deposit, while others may call it a simple repair.
In nearly every state, property owners are allowed to withhold a portion of the security deposit for excessive damage, however, this does not include normal wear and tear. Essentially, a security deposit serves as a protection for the property owner in the case the property gets damaged during the recent tenancy. This implies that landlords can deduct cash from the security deposit to help mend any item damaged.
As a property management company, we consider normal wear and tear as whatever occurs from consistent day-to-day use in the rental property. Some examples of what would be considered normal wear and tear are as follows:
- Faded or yellowed paint due to sunlight and adverse weather conditions
- Diry curtains and blinds
- Faded curtains
- Matted carpet wear caused by normal use
- Furniture markings in carpet
- Broken appliances (not from misuse)
- Warped doors occasioned by moisture, temperature, or age
- Dents in the walls caused by door handles
- Pin or picture holes in the walls (not excessive)
- Diary window screens
- Loose door and window hinges
- Worn out linoleum floor
- Slightly worn out hardwood floors
- Broken taps initiated by normal use
- Worn out electric switches
All in all, even the most careful tenants are likely to experience some sort of wear and tear while occupying the property.
What We Consider Damage Beyond Normal Wear and Tear
There are various instances and cases that we would consider to be damage beyond normal wear and tear. If we as the property owner feel and believe that the tenant caused unnecessary damage to the property during the period of their stay, we have every reason to hold part or all of their security deposit to help pay for repairs.
Here is a list of some damages that would potentially prompt us to withhold some or all of a tenant’s security deposit depending on the extent of the damage:
- Carpets: burns, tears, pet odor and stains, blotches, and food stains
- Wall: marks, torn wallpaper, excessive number of holes, and stripped paint
- Deep scratches and gouges on wood and concrete surface floors
- Damaged furniture and broken or mission lighting fixtures
- Cracked or broken glass, broken hinges, and missing or broken door and window knobs
- Excessive dirt and grime that requires professional cleaning
- Broken electric appliances like refrigerator compartments and stove burners that can no longer work
- Broken mirrors, fixtures, broken or mission tiles, and clogged drainage system in the bathrooms
We consider any of the above damage instances as beyond normal wear and tear caused by a renter and would keep a portion, or all, of the security deposit. We advise tenants to avoid any such damages like the ones listed above by carrying out regular maintenance. Tenants can do so by participating in frequent vacuuming and dusting, cleaning electrical appliances, hanging things on the walls that do not require nails, cleaning up grime and stains immediately, and maintaining animals to refrain from unnecessary damage.
Before a tenant move in, we walk the incoming tenant through the property and give them a full understanding of what we consider normal wear and tear and what would be considered unforeseeable damage. Any of the current defects or damages from the property will be documented so no accidental fault is taken. After going through the property, the tenant will agree to the present condition and sign the document.
Before the tenant moves out of the leasing unit, we carry out another inspection to access what has been damaged and what is worn from normal conditions. Pictures should be taken of any and all changes the property may have experienced and notes should be made. It is then important to explain to the tenant why or why not you may be withholding part or all of the security deposit. The renter will then either agree or disagree and can contest with reasons if there is disagreement.
It is important to not only have a move out inspection when the tenant’s lease is up, but you should also be conducting inspections throughout the time of occupancy. This can help to make sure you are keeping track of everything going on at the property and will also provide protection to your investment. Making needed repairs in a timely manner will create a better outcome for both the landlord and tenant.
Reach out to us and discover what we can do for you to lessen your stress and make your life more enjoyable while we manage your property.