Landlording & Rental Properties

The Landlord’s Itemized List of Common Tenant Deposit Deductions

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Terrible mess after party. Trash, bottles, food, cups and clothes on floor.

Nothing motivates a tenant more to replace their dead light bulbs than knowing that if they don’t, it could cost them $5 per bulb for us to hire someone else to do it. This Itemized List of Common Deposit Deductions is fairly generic and includes a statement that says, “This list has been prepared for your information only. Actual charges will vary.” The point of this list is to simply motivate your tenant to do as much themselves as possible because, let’s face it, moving is not fun. It’s a lot of hard work, and by the time the tenant gets everything moved out and into their new place, the last thing they want to do is deep clean and get the home they have lived in for years returned to move-in condition.

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The responsible ones will buck up and do it anyway. It’s those others you’ve got to impress the importance upon that they need to do it themselves—which is where this list comes in.

In reality, some things may cost more, some less, but the point is to let the tenant see with their own eyes that it will cost them, probably a lot more than they think.

Related: How to Hone Your Screening Process to Ensure Better Tenants

The Landlord’s Itemized List of Common Tenant Deposit Deductions

[This article is an excerpt from Brandon Turner’s The Book on Managing Rental Properties.]

Landlords: Does your deposit deduction list look similar? Anything you’d add or change?

Be sure to leave a comment below!

Brandon Turner is an active real estate investor, entrepreneur, writer, and co-host of the BiggerPockets Podcast. He is a nationally recognized leader in the real estate education space and has tau...
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    Cindy Larsen Rental Property Investor from Lakewood, WA
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    BRandon, Great detailed list. Although, if a cleaning oerson tried to charge me those prices, I’d find someone who works by the hour and get multiple $25 items done for each $25 hour. or maybe $20/hr. Of course, that’s not the point: motivating the tenant tomeither do amgreat job of cleNing, or not complain when you keep their deposit is obviously the point. So, what do you do when they do a mostly ok job of cleaning: nitpick every detail, or just get your own cleaning people to go over the place, and pay for it out of your vacancy reserves? I’ve only been a landlord for 2.5 years, and haven’t had anyone move out yet. I did take detailed pictures of the condition of the property, with the tenants present when I signed the leases on both properties. My idea was to use the pictures to determine what things needed to be fixed, replaced, or cleaned to get the property back to move in condition.
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Exactly. No landlord is actually spending anywhere close to those amounts, especially for cleaning. the most I ever spent on cleaning for a place was truly a mess, taking the cleaner a full two days at $25/hour was $400. Most of the other stuff on the list is normal wear and tear, and not chargeable to the tenant. Most of what’s left is maintenance the landlord is responsible for. Almost nothing on that list is actually chargeable to the tenant. Years ago, I rented a place with zero light bulbs in the fixtures. When I left, I gave the unit back with zero light bulbs in the fixtures. What goes around comes around.
    Daryl
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Katie says: “Almost nothing on that list is chargeable to the tenant” Well Katie, I’m not sure you’re actually a landlord….but if you are….you have an unusual take on what is a tenant responsibility and what is not. Dirt is not normal wear and tear. Destruction of window blinds is not normal wear and tear. Holes of any type in the walls are not normal wear and tear unless you specifically give permission in writing to put holes in the wall. The tenant is responsible for returning the property to the landlord in the exact same condition that is was turned over to them. That’s the condition contained within the right to quiet enjoyment given to the tenant in return for their custodianship of the property. The fact is, unless something in your state landlord/tenant laws specify otherwise…..about the only thing considered normal wear and tear is sun fading of surfaces.
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    You did not read the comment very carefully. Tenants are not responsible for the sort of “deep” cleaning on this list. They are responsible for leaving the place what is known as “broom clean.” The dirty place I described cost $400 to clean, not the $1000 suggested on this list. Speaking of window blinds, the littlest gust of wind can twist the vertical blinds right off in an instant. That is not the tenant’s fault. Horizontal blinds are notoriously flimsy. Just raising them up and down can bend them. The string and stick mechanism for controlling them is extremely weak. Normal wear and tear can easily break the mechanism. I have met landlords who try to charge a tenant for cleaning even if the tenant returns the unit in immaculate condition. There are a lot of landlords who have higher expectations of tenants, if they can profit thereby, than they have of themselves. If a landlord puts flimsy stuff in their units, and it breaks, that should be on the landlord.
    Deborah Smith from Phoenix, AZ
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I can count on exactly zero fingers the number of blinds I have broken in any home I’ve ever lived in.
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    So very glad you never came home to find a vertical blind mysteriously laying the the floor. So very glad you never moved into a place to find the edges of horizontal blinds already bent, and the moving mechnisms already finicky.
    Susan Maneck Investor from Jackson, Mississippi
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Thanks, I like this list!
    Andrew Hughes from Wadsworth, Ohio
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    This list is awesome! I will use this or something very close to it going forward.
    Stephen S. Wholesaler from Holiday, Florida
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I now equip every rental unit with all LED lightbulbs. I also build custom high efficiency A/C systems. In my lease is clearly states that when I get the unit back – there will be LED bulbs in all the fixtures Or there will be a charge for me to install them. A tenant who had remarked repeatedly about how low his electric bill was – although in the last year it had been creeping up noticeably – recently left. About 75% of the bulbs in the fixtures were Not LED. I asked him why and he said: LED bulbs were too expensive – so I cheaped-out and used the cheap kind. Why would you do that? It makes zero sense to me. I am going to charge you probably double or triple what you could have bought the LED bulbs for AND you could have had the low-electric-bill advantage of them while you were actually living there. This way you paid a higher electric bill AND are going to be buying LED bulbs anyway – but now for someone Else’s benefit – why? I couldn’t afford the LED bulbs – they cost too much. How did you afford the higher electric bill then? I don’t know – I never thought about that.
    Dan
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Having a detailed list that is defensible in court as well as being transparent with the tenant is simply a best business practice. Each landlord should have their list that is appropriate for the quality of their units and cost of services in their area. What is missing from this list is the depreciable life of common items, remember your tenant does not owe you $500 for a room of carpet if it is 15 years old, or the replacement cost of a 25 year old range etc. I include the depreciable lives of common capital items including the interior paint, blinds, carpet, laminate floors, range etc. I have never been challenged about a deposit report and have issued many hundreds. I always tell tenants when they move in that I like to give deposits back, we all make more money this way.
    Terry Lowe
    Replied 9 months ago
    Dan, you are right, normal wear n tear is not chargeable. We just finished upgrading a 1200 ft unit that had 450 nail holes! And the tenants sloppily put plaster on each hole. All had to be sanded and scrubbed to get back to the wall texture around each hole. Usually, nail holes are considered normal wear n tear, but in this case I plan to charge for every hole! I love the idea of this list. Being transparent is the best way to avoid conflict. My question is what do you do when damage is more than the deposit?
    Jorge Vega
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Awesome list Brandon!
    Daniel Pollock Real Estate Investor from Brooklyn, New York
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Another great one Brandon
    Pavel K. from Massachusetts
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Does this list need to be signed off on by the tenant so that they understand they are responsible if things need to be fixed at the time security deposit is given back? And do you get them to sign it at the time of lease signing? Just curious how you enforce this. Or do you incorporate the entire list into the lease agreement addendum?
    Daryl
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I use an addendum that outlines tenant responsibilities, cleaning charges, fees for and what constitutes damage. Since we rent single family, also included are some pertinent city requirements, such as no parking on grass, fines for not doing snow removal etc. By including a clause above the signature line to the effect that the property owner reserves the right to amend or revoke these rules and regulations contained in the addendum at any time and are subject to review and change at any time, any changes made will be in effect at the time they are presented and made a part of the agreement as of their effective date. Our state law provides that any changes made under these circumstances merely need to be posted in a place that the tenant is likely to see them or presented directly to the tenant to be in effect. I do everything using a core lease and then various addendum to accomplish management of the lease. I allows for immediate changes and response without having to cast a new lease for signature. The signature on the original addendum authorizes changes without signature. Check with your own legal advisor to know what is true in your state’s laws.
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    “The signature on the original addendum authorizes changes without signature.” See, here’s the thing. You have basically turned the lease into a one-sided document instead of a mutual agreement between both parties. So now the question is how much lead time does a tenant have to accept or reject your changes.
    Daryl
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    From within my post: “any changes made will be in effect at the time they are presented and made a part of the agreement as of their effective date” “allows for immediate changes and response without having to cast a new lease”
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Your lease would be illegal in California for the reason I specified. The tenant should have an opportunity to reject the changes and seek other housing in at least the same time frame as the notice they would be required to give or you are required to give them. In California, that is thirty days if the tenant has been in residence less than a year and sixty days if the tenant has been in residence over a year. The reason that your lease would be illegal and thus unenforceable is because you have removed one essential feature of contracts–agreement by both parties. There can be no blank checks(which is what you are trying to create), and you may find if you are challenged, that your contract would be ruled null and void. Regardless of what your state law allows, if you were a tenant, you would probably not like such a feature in your lease. The Golden Rule says we should not have provisions we are ourselves would object to if we were tenants.
    Daryl
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I don’t force anyone to sign anything. Now, since I’m both an attorney and in Ohio, your comment, besides having no basis in fact (you have conflated multiple concepts into something you think is a law), has no bearing on how I do things ….. especially since California has no jurisdiction anywhere other than California….even if you knew what you’re talking about. I’ve been a contract lawyer for 45 years…..my lease is legal. My addendum are separate, but enforceable itemized schedules….which I might add, you’ve never set eyes on and yet think you know how and why they aren’t legal.. I am certain that you are not an attorney and are just spouting here…..as you did above in another comment. Stop trolling and get a lawyer to explain how your opinions are wrong.
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    It might be legal in Ohio, but legal is not always equivalent to the right thing to do. That is my point. I never said your tenants were forced to sign it. However, since according to you , you can change the lease anytime without notice, tenants might be surprised at what they actually agreed to. It sound like it violates the Golden Rule. I am not “trolling.” And hopefully BP is not an echo chamber. I never forget what it felt like to be a tenant.
    Ildiko Toth
    Replied 9 months ago
    Katie, Are you a property manager or a property owner? I think most of us worked extremely hard to be property owners therefore, I must protect it. I will follow the law, but will make sure that my property is protected. There is no "Golden Rule" when it comes to my property. I want to follow the law and never of course take advantage of anybody, but I definitely do not want to pay for tenants' recklessness. I have learned my lessons the hard way and I'm sure many of the property owners would agree with me. The list is great and most items are chargeable to tenants even in CA (I have owned properties, and unfortunately been in trials and won my cases in CA). The pricing depends really on the area, size of house, kind of house and so on...
    Rio Tomlin Investor from Austin, Texas
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I would love to implement something like this for our units in NYC and in Austin. However, what’s the best way to have these upfront and agreed to in the lease? As an addendum/rider to the lease, and when signing lease, after our existing rider with site-specific rules and expectations, include this along with a few sentences explaining that unless all the above are met, deductions from security will be incurred as follows?
    James M Smith Investor from Mansfield, Texas
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    I include it as an addendum on the original lease and initial every page. I havent had somone contest my charges so I cant say if this would hold up in court if pressed but perhaps having them sign this upfront discourages someone from feeling like they can contest. And I cant imagine a Judge not looking favorably on this being disclosed upfront. (but I always maintain the right to be surprised)
    Katie Rogers from Santa Barbara, California
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Judges like the up front list, but they will frown on inflated charges.
    Tony Castronovo Rental Property Investor from Katy, TX
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great list and post Brandon. I have similar questions as some of the others. Is this something to include as an addendum up front? Or can this be provided to the tenant, say when they provide their 30-day notice?
    James M Smith Investor from Mansfield, Texas
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Hey Tony, The Short: I include something similar as an addendum to the lease and have them initial every page and date. This way if they dispute a charge I can say they agreed at the time of signing the lease. The long: I agree this is a great tool to use. I dont think it matters in this instance but our properties are in Texas. I have a welcome letter as an addendum to the Lease that indicates I want to give them their security depost back with one or two sentences why it is in both our best interest. I also explain that these are also their responsibilities while they live in the home and if they want us to manage some of their responsibilities for them these aproxamet costs are what they could expect to pay in addition to rent (i.e, lightbulb replacment, yard maintenance, etc). In many cases they choose to manage it themselves or pay someone who is cheaper then me (which is great because I dont want to do these things). For me this is incentive for them to do what they have contractually agreed to do and not a revenue source. I honestly love when I get to return an entire security deposit because I cut that check and typically have another tenent lined up to move in the next day or couple days.
    Sarah Melton from Akron, OH
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Really helpful, thanks for sharing!
    Fred K. Investor from Richmond, Virginia
    Replied almost 3 years ago
    Great list. Always remember this is a business and if you don’t charge and collect these fees, it comes out of your pocket. We have a similar list as an addendum to the lease. Our costs are mostly higher. we make it clear that the property is to be returned in the same condition as they received it. As for the blinds, we charge $25 per blind ever if a tassel is missing and tenants are responsible for any damage to storm doors. You are free to use the following. DAMAGE ADDENDUM (This is a legally binding contract; if not understood, seek competent advice before signing.) This Addendum to the Lease Agreement by and between _________________________________________, Landlord, and ____________________________________________________________________________________, Tenant(s) and __________________________ Manager for Landlord, Lease dated __________________________ for property described as _____________________________________________________________________________ The Lease Agreement, as written, is all inclusive and binding to the Landlord and the Tenant, with the exception of the following amendments and/or revisions: This addendum supersedes any move out charges cost figures in the Handbook addendum. This list is provided at move-in and move-out so you are aware of the average cost of property damages, and so you can avoid these expenses being deducted from your deposit. Repair prices may vary according to the amount and type of damage. This is a non-inclusive list. Except for normal wear and tear, the following specific deductions or damages shall be charged against Tenant for any damages to the Dwelling Unit or the Premises: Excessive or abnormal repairs of holes caused by nails or hanging lamps: $ 35.00. Comments: Charges billed at $35/half hour labor (minimum charge $35) and materials at cost plus premium to cover overhead depending on the item. CLEANING (if not done by you before you move-out) MISSING or non-working ITEM ESTIMATES Refrigerator $75.00 Stove top or inside oven $75.00 Kitchen cabinets or counter top $65.00 Bathtub/shower $55.00 Toilet $50.00 Vacuum entire unit $150.00 Replace furnace filter $20.00 Replace refrigerator filter $75.00 Extensive cleaning $85.00/hour Carpet Cleaning $250.00-$400.00 Replace light bulb each $15.00 Light fixture globe $30.00 Light fixture $50.00-$100.00 Electrical outlet/switch $15.00 Electrical cover plate $15.00 Replace key $15.00 Replace refrigerator shelf $85.00 Replace oven knob $35.00 Replace window screen $50.00 DAMAGE ESTIMATES Large nail hole repair $35.00 Remove crayon marks $25.00 per wall Replace interior/exterior door $270.00 + Cost of door Replace sliding glass door $650.00 + Cost of door Replace faucets $150.00-$250.00 Replace bathroom mirror or medicine cabinet $95.00-$250.00 Replace shower head $45.00 Replace toilet $300.00 Replace garbage disposal $200.00 Replace counter top $100.00 + labor & materials Repair window pane $125.00 Replace mini-blinds $25.00 each Replace major appliances $50.00 + Cost + labor & materials ADDITIONAL CHARGES ESTIMATES Replace curtain rod or towel bar $100.00 Replace smoke detector $50.00 Replace smoke detector battery $10.00 Replace Carbon Monoxide Detectors $65.00 Replace Carbon Monoxide Detectors battery $10.00 Remove junk and debris $85.00 /hour Fumigate for fleas $150.00 Replace fire extinguisher $70.00 Replace thermostat $35.00 +Cost + labor & materials Remove wallpaper $200.00 + labor Fence replacement or repair $40.00 per foot Clear drain stoppage $25.00 + labor Repainting of parts of the Dwelling Unit or Premises: Dining Room: $ 300.00 Kitchen: $ 400.00 Living Room: $ 450.00 Bath: $ 350.00 Bedroom, Each: $ 450.00 Halls: $ 300.00 Repainting of entire Dwelling Unit or Premises: 1-Bedroom Unit: $ 1,000 4-Bedroom Unit: $ 3,000 2-Bedroom Unit: $ 1,500 5-Bedroom Unit: $ 4,000 3-Bedroom Unit: $ 2,500 In the event that wall paper must be removed, Tenant will be charged for the cost of repairing and repainting the wall, including the drywall, if necessary, on a time and materials basis. In the event that the drywall is damaged through removal of tape applied by Tenant, Tenant will be charged for painting the area or room as deemed necessary by Landlord. Damaged carpeting or other flooring: Burn holes: $ 55.00 The cost will be $5.50 per sqft for carpet replacement. The cost will be $4.50 per sqft to refinish hardwood floors. The cost will be $8.00 per sqft for laminate floor replacement. The cost will be $6.00 per sqft for vinyl floor replacement. The cost will be $1.50 per sqft for quarter round replacement. Any major repairs will be charged at $85.00 per hour plus cost of materials. Tenant hereby agrees to surrender possession of the Dwelling Unit to the Landlord in as good condition as the commencement date of the Lease Agreement, less reasonable wear and tear, and reimburse Landlord for any repairs or maintenance that may be necessary in accordance with the schedule set out in this Damage Addendum, or at the actual costs of the materials and repairs, if the actual costs are greater than the amounts set out herein. Resident agrees that subject to the conditions above. Any security deposit money left after all unpaid rent, utilities and repairs have been paid, will be refunded within 45 days after vacating premises or after all repairs have been completed. IN WITNESS WHEREOF, Landlord and Tenant have executed this Damage Addendum on the dates reflected below: TENANT(s): __________________________________________Date: _____________ TENANT(s): __________________________________________Date: _____________ Landlord: ____________________________________________Date: _____________ Landlord: ____________________________________________Date: _____________ Manager: ____________________________________________Date: _____________
    Adam D. Investor from Castle Rock, Colorado
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Wow! that’s very detailed. Thanks Fred K.
    Sean Singh Real Estate Investor from Northville, Michigan
    Replied 9 months ago
    I believe you should add garage doors and garage openers in the list
    Roger Johnson from Maplewood, NJ
    Replied over 2 years ago
    Great list thanks! I will use and add broken windows to the list!
    Anthony Wilks
    Replied about 2 years ago
    Holy. This list seems more like a scare tactic. Yes, I like the list. But, the prices might be very hard to justify should your tenant take you to court.
    Suzanne Lord Rental Property Investor from Worcester, PA
    Replied almost 2 years ago
    This comment is a little late to the game. Thank you for the detailed Damage List It is great to see different approaches. I just updated my Moving Charges and Repair Cost Sheet last night in preparation of spring leases rolling in. (Which is how I landed on this post.) Prices vary greatly regionally. My Damage cost list is higher (average range $20-$50 higher) and has held up well with tenants and in court. There is an increasing labor shortage in my area (and nation wide) and my maintenance costs reflect a jump in trade prices. When I started thirty years ago I know now that I greatly undervalued my time and administrative costs. Also there was no internet community to support newbies or do research…I didn’t even have a cell phone! How did any of us manage to start and run a business?! Thank Goodness for BIGGER POCKETS! There is always something new to learn in this business.
    Henry Kashkevych
    Replied about 1 year ago
    Fred K. “You da Man!” Great damage addendum for lease.
    Bernie Neyer Investor from Chanute, Kansas
    Replied 9 months ago
    Mr. Turner, Thanks for the article, but two things, $5 for a light bulb? Really? Obviously you haven’t purchased a bulb lately. LOL, LEDs cost more than that, but I get where you’re coming from. I used to give the tenant a list of charges, but found it had negative results. Tenants would just go, “The heck with this, he’ll never return our deposit any way with these charges.” Instead what I send them is a check list of what to do and where needed instructions on how to do it. I’ve found people who didn’t know how to really clean stuff. In my instructions, I’d tell them to clean the walls and invite them to do just one room where they’d discover how much dirt was really on their walls. I’d let them know, if done right, from ceiling to floor, it shouldn’t take more than a hour to clean a room. Now, it may have taken them longer, but they didn’t know that till they’d finished. I’d finish the letter by telling them that we truly wanted to return their deposit, because the cost of cleaning their rental could run far more than their deposit. Generally, they get the drift. Here in Kansas, we have 30 days to return their deposit, so in my letter, I tell them to lock up when they leave, leaving the keys on the kitchen counter along with their new address where the want their deposit sent. I often find their address along with the check list sent them, and they dutifully checked each task as they completed it.
    Curt Smith Rental Property Investor from Clarkston, GA
    Replied 6 months ago
    Adding my practice to this zig zagging thread,, learned from a national landlording teacher David Tilney, well worth the 3 day training. I agree with Brandon's security deposit charges and having those initialed during move in and emailed to the tenants when they give notice. David Tilney teaches "zero day" which has as a goal the next tenants move in the DAY AFTER the current tenants move out. So how does a landlord orchestrate such a miracle? Lets also debunk (completely) the ridiculous notion that theres customary and usual wear and tear. If you loan your car to a friend you expect to get it back without dings and worn out carpets right? Think of your rental businss as one that is lending your rental for a period of time, its reasonable to want the unit back in the same condition. At move in you read the lease section that says; when you give notice you are to fix and clean the unit up such that it is in the same condition as when you moved in and you will agree to show the property to the next tenants that the landlord will send schedule with you. I never show properties!!!! The current tenant chats with the prospects and are great in person screeners for me. I text the tenant after a showing and I they tell me what they thought of each tenant. Of course I get my own views through my interaction and screening as well. This works when you treat tenants well, are a great landlord, then they are ok with helping you out when they need to move on. My leases are month to month with a give 60 days notice any time you need to move; just fix the place up and show to the next tenant. My tenants are thankful for such flexibility. If your curious my rentals are nicer, fixed up, and my average tenancy is 5 yrs +/-. Month to month does not shorten how long then stay BTW. I have orchestrated near zero day turn overs. A few weeks at most. Nearly zero turn over costs short of paying my contractor cleaning and minor fixing tasks that I never go to supervise because I remote self manage. Landlords,,, please stop allowing tenants to be rough on your properties. Set expectations at move in (like a parent) you need to set expectations of how clean and careful they need to treat your rental. The repair sheet and prices is a help to nudge in that direction. Like any goal, if you don't set your goals high, like shooting for zero days turn over, near zero turn over costs, you will never get there, and in some of your cases not even be in the same universe with multi-$1k's turn over costs and lost months. Please don't accept lost months and high costs as the only way to run a rental business!!! Set your goals higher and it starts with a security deposit repair sheet like this AND a lease that says you must return the unit in same condition AND you must agree to show the unit to the next tenants... Set as your goal the zero day business model. You'll be amazed when you make this happen for the first time. Please look up taking David Tilneys landlording training as well.
    Curt Smith Rental Property Investor from Clarkston, GA
    Replied 6 months ago
    @Brandon Hay Brandon whats with BP's website squeezing out the new lines separating paragraphs. I posted via a browser not the mobile app.