Security Deposits and Wear and Tear

Posted: January 26th, 2015

Wear and Tear

Most states consider the security deposit needs to be returned if the property is left in its original condition, minus normal wear and tear.  But what is normal wear and tear?  The landlord might be judging the wear and tear based on how he/she lives in their own house but you should be careful in your review as the court system is likely to measure it on an average level.  Paint fading, loose strings on blinds, loose cabinet doors, matted carpet, and cracked grout are not wear and tear. As a Landlord, the best approach is to document each room with pictures and video before move-in and then following move-out.  Take a picture of each wall, each appliance (inside and outside), inside tubs, inside cabinets, toilets, ceiling fans, and all windows/doors.  On the move-in day when you give the tenants the keys, have the tenants sign a color copy of each picture with the date.  Then on move-out, take your sheet and take the same pictures. This will be a clear presentation to the tenant and if necessary to the judge in court.

Dirty walls being assessed against the security deposit is the most common issue found after a tenant leaves. The best judgement of the Landlord or Property Manager should be used.  If it can be proved that there is excessive amount of marks, damage, and dirt on the walls like in the picture below, then yes this can be grounds for assessing against the security deposit.