Tenants Responsibilities (Wear and Tear vs Damage)

Updated on August 30, 2012
J.M. asks from Doylestown, PA
12 answers

My wonderful landlord who walked in on M. in a tshirt and underwear uninvited 2 nights ago is coming over tonight to go through the house to discuss my security deposit. Now since I'm aware she's a rich mean old lady I assume she is going to try and be sleezy and claim I owe for things which either don't exsist or exagerate normal wear and tear.
so here are my questions

1. she didnt put a door knob blocker thing (i believe thats the technical term) behind the door. The door knob hit the wall and indented it, we filled and repainted with the paint that was left over (can she charge us because the paint looks cleaner in one area?-this is also related to next question)
2. pictures hung- there are about 6 nail holes in the entire place. The issue is, when our heater kicked out soot for months (from when we didn't have a working heater for the entire winter which she didnt compensate us for) and she never had cleaners come in to clean all walls and blinds (every square inch of the walls, cielings, and so on) , so if we fill the 5 mini nail holes and repaint with the paint that was left it will look polka dotted because there will be clean marks on the dingy walls. so can she charge us for that?
3. wood floors- i'm not sure if it's from us or prior to move in but since we didnt notate it I'm sure its on us but there are a few scratches on the wood floor in the one room...can she charge us to redo the entire room for this one spot?

Thanks=) I want to be as prepared as possible for her crazy requests later. she also has someone moving in the day we move out so it doesnt seem she plans on fixing anything.
Also if she walks through today can I get a letter stating no issues? what if she decides in 15 days she's charging M. for another 20 things?

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So What Happened?

J. noticed someone else posted a similar question with the after effects of having a crappy landlord
Jim the entire house would have to be repainted. when we had a broken heater which she didnt fix for months it kicked out soot, which is impossible to clean. the entire house, cielings and all have a layer of soot on them. she is aware of this. she was supposed to clean them for us months ago because we were still breathing in the soot. so i'd have to repaint the entire house for it to look better
one and done - i did wash the walls...they still look dingy from the soot. it wont come off with a typical washe down, and its on the cielings too. they need to be repainted...i will try and fill and stain the few scratches. we patched all of the nail holes...J. worried the slight shade diference she will charge M. for. its not like the walls look like soot, its J. if you see a spot not affected by soot then you can see the diference. to people who didnt know about the soot they wouldnt notice...UNLESS i paint those holes then you will see the color diference

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answers from Boston on

Since when did you have to paint the walls when you moved out??? That seems strange to M., I live in Massachusetts and I *believe* that it is the landlords responsibility to paint between tenants. Good Luck.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I've rented. The places I rented looked better when I moved out than when I moved in. I scrubbed, painted, laid carpet, etc., because it was my HOME where I was living and I wanted it to be nice.
I have been a rental landlord. My biggest complaint? FILTH! Make sure your place is clean, clean, clean. There is no headache like getting a filthy rental unit clean.

1. Door knob blocker? Those aren't standard equipment. YOUR responsibility to patch and paint, which you have.

2. Nail holes/painting over filth? Your responsibility to patch them. Wash the walls, THEN paint. I'm surprised you haven't cleaned the walls yourself after heater blowing FILTH LAST winter??!! After all, you LIVE there. Who wants to look at that?

3. Try to fill/clean/etc. the wood floors as bets as you can. That, to M. would seem like "wear and tear."

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answers from Houston on

In our experience with renters there is what she will see today, and what she will see when you have moved out. The latter is what your deposit will be based on. It's good for you and her to do a walk thru now, so you both have an idea of where things stand.
Regardless of how the place looks now, (if you want your deposit back) it should look 1000% better than when you moved in. Like I said, that depends on if you want your deposit back, and/or possibly risk being taken to small claims court for damages.
So, take the left over paint you have to Lowes or Home Depot have them match the color and get a gallon or two and paint the walls you know should be painted, fill the nail holes and clean clean clean. Good luck

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answers from Sacramento on

I'd hit the hardware store and see if they have any of those chemical sponges restoration companies use after fires to clean the soot off walls, etc. or call a company that does fire damage clean-up and ask what they use and is the product available for purchase. as for the scratched up hardwood floor, if the scratches show more because they are a different color, go get some Old English scratch cover and put it on there and see if it helps. good luck

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answers from Lakeland on

I am sick of these crappy landlords and I no longer rent!!!!!

The paint (even with squares where the pictures were) is ware and tare, the door knob I wouldn’t worry about if you fixed it and a stopper on the back is not a requirement.

How bad are the scratches? It is all over one area and the wood is extremely damaged? Floors get scratched and carpets get worn out these are to be expected. But if the floor boards in that area need to be replaced or carpets have holes or rips then those are things you get charged for. Holes from pictures are also ware and tare, but big holes from a fist or furniture are what you get charged for also pet stains and odors. They are the hardest to get rid of.

As a landlord I think carpets should be cleaned between tenants and everything should be repainted. I also clean my homes prior to new tenant which includes the inside of cabinets, the bathroom and kitchens. When I was a renter I moved into so many dirty apartments and always left them cleaner than before.

Look online for a move out check list and have it with you when she comes. Make sure you have two copies and you all sign them both. I use a website call ezlandlordform.com but you have to pay for them. I am sure you can find something online for free to print out.

And I can’t believe they walked into your home unannounced, I ALWAYS give 24 hours’ notice unless it is an emergency and they are expecting M..

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answers from Dallas on

My experience as a landlord, is here in Texas. I imagine the rules for this vary from state to state.

As a landlord, most of what you are talking about sounds like normal wear and tear. She would have to show that the damage is excessive. LIke our rental property, nail holes happen. We simply patch and paint as we find them. But we did have tenant who let their teenager hang up posted with tacks. We knew he had a lot of posters hanging up, but we J. failed to notice the tacks. This kid must have rearranged his room a million times. When they left there were thousands of holes...the walls we COVERED in holes. That family got charged to repaint the room. Dings in the walls happen, but that was excessive.

The only area that sounds questionable is the soot. If she can suggest or prove that YOU caused the heater issues, you could be liable for the damage that caused.

I would also say that I wholeheartedly agree with OneandDone. When a house is clean, really clean, we overlook a lot more than those tenants who move out in the middle of the night leaving a mess and furniture behind.

Here is Texas we are allowed 30 days to send you an itemized bill for any deductions. I would very hesitate as a landlord to sign anything that says there were no issues. What if I discover two days later that the tenants broke the dishwasher? Or busted all the sprinkler heads in the lawn? Or stole all the outlet covers. I'd wouldn't want to stick myself with the bill for something caused by previous tenants.

Good luck!!

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answers from New York on

I say use your digital camera on your phone and let her know you are recording this walk through. That may help keep her honest and you both out of court. If you can get some Dapp, to fill the small nail holes. It's only about $4.00 if that much for a tube of the stuff which comes with a small spackle.

Tidy up as best you can and don't worry about it.

I J. hate stressing over a security deposit as a tenant and as a landlord I'm always prepared to return the deposit because I put it in an interest bearing account like I am supposed to.

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answers from Sharon on

Take pictures of EVERYTHING! When she comes to do the walk through, take pictures then too, of anything she mentions. If you can get her in the pictures it will also help corroborate your story should the need arise. Also, ask for a written copy of anything she deems 'your fault.' Don't sigh anything unless you get an exact copy. The things you mention sound like normal war and tear. Do you have any documentation of the heater being broken? If yes, hang on to them too. Any info you have to support your facts will help should there be a dispute. If you feel she is being unfair you can be the one to dispute. Good luck!

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answers from Houston on

I am going through this right now, our landlord is trying to with hold $700 for nail holes. Unless there is a "no nail holes" statement in your rental contract, she can't charge you for nail holes, unless there are large holes in the wall. If she wants those small nail holes spackled and repainted, you have to right to do it yourself with her permission, it will save you lots of money that way. Wipe down the walls so they are not as dingy.

During the walk through, fill out all damages, also compare those to damages from the walk through when you first moved in. Take pictures and video of the entire house, including close-ups of the issues and the clean areas. She should sign the walk through stating those are the extent of the damages so she cannot go back and later claim there are more.

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answers from Chicago on

She should not charge you for a difference in paint color, unless you paint white over black or some big thing like that. A small nail hole for hanging a picture should actually be considered normal wear and tear unless you make a crack or larger damage. If you fill in the hole, it should be fine. I would have her sign a paper, in addition to any pictures you can take with the date on them, and have her sign it. Have each room listed and each appliance (including heating/cooling) and list the condition as good or damaged and then both of you sign. This way she cannot say it was damaged later. You also should not have to repaint the apartment or house yourself unless you painted it some odd color. It sounds like you left it whatever way you moved in. For the floor, if there are grooves, you could be charged. It all depends on the damages. But make sure it is noted. If it is a small area, you should not be charge to redo the whole floor. Especiialy since she doesn't seem to be looking to fix anything before the next tenant. You should not be held responsible for damages caused by inefficient appliances like the heater and soot unless you caused the problem somehow. If you can, see if there are tenant laws and regulations in your area, though you are short on time.

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answers from Madison on

Landlords can only charge you for a percentage of what is done for a lot of things...if you damanged the wood in one room and they have to replace it and want the other rooms to match they can only charge you for that room. Same with painting they can only charge for what you have done. i have rented a LOT and being charged to paint (reasonable ammount) carpet cleaning and general cleaning is not uncommon and considered common charges.

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answers from St. Louis on

Knowing your landlord she will remember she never fixed the doorstop and go check there for damage. :(

She can't charge you for the soot but since when has that stopped her. Maybe try nicely pointing out before she says anything, we tried to clean up after the heater blew up as best we could. Perhaps if it had been fixed sooner it wouldn't have been so bad. A normal person that would be enough to point out your unconcern with our heat caused this, not us, we are reasonable. Your landlord, she won't get it.

The floor must be reasonable and it must be beyond normal wear and tear, on a hardwood floor, scratches are normal.

If today is the walk through you should be able to get her to sign off on no damage. Again your landlord is nuts so who knows. :(

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