As a landlord, you must cover your expenses of the maintenance and repairs you perform between tenants. If you or a tenant ends a lease, it is your right to make appropriate deductions from his or her security deposit to cover all damages or extra cleaning required to return your rental property to the condition in which they found it.
Examples of Damage or Excessive Cleaning Required
• Broken tile in bathroom or kitchen
• Water stains caused by open windows
• Damaged or missing mini blinds or window treatments
• Large holes in walls
• Stopped-up toilet due to debris, diapers, or other items left inside
• Doors pulled off hinges
• Gouges in walls or floors that require filling
• Cigarette burns or stains anywhere
• Stains in carpet
• Excessive dirt, grime and stickiness, on countertops, floors, etc.
However, landlords may not deduct money from a tenant’s security deposit to cover ordinary wear and tear.
Examples of Ordinary Wear and Tear
• Minor wall scuffs
• Small tack or nail holes in the wall
• Faded paint or carpet
• Worn areas in carpet or hardwood or linoleum floors
• Dusty or dirty mini blinds
• Water stains in the bathroom or kitchen caused by faulty faucets or hard water
• Dents in walls caused by doorknobs
• Mild dirt or spots on carpets
To facilitate the return of a tenant’s deposit, set up a move-in checklist and inspection for each tenant, and compare it to a move-out inspection and checklist. Conduct the move-out inspection with your tenant, and indicate which items need to be replaced or repaired. Get the tenant’s signature to prove they were present and agree to the list of damages. And don’t forget that you’ll avoid disagreements over security deposits by being reasonable—cover your expenses, but don’t gouge your tenants.