Allowed deductions on Security Deposit?

1 Reply


I have been renting my old house in Miami since I moved away for the past 6 years.

My last 3 tenants just left the house.

I am extremely upset at the condition of the house:

-  Extremely dirty house - Was charged $300 to clean it.  Usual fare is $150.  Can I charge the full $300?

-  The tenants did not use AC filters - the AC system collapsed.  Had to replace the whole unit ($4000). The evaporator coils were dirty beyond repair from pet hair and dirt.  I asked the technician how much it would have cost to clean the evaporator coils and he said $800-$1000 (4ton unit - the unit was old - it made sense to change it).  Could I charge them $800 for remediation cost?

- The tenants did not notify me of a leak in the dining room.  It turns out I have now floor damage and the roof has three trees growing on top.  I feel that had they advised me of the leak (the ceiling paint is obviously damaged), some of the costs could have been averted.  )  The roof bill is at least $2500. (I have 2 quotes).  I am going to let this one slide I guess...

-  They harbored an illegal dog breaching the No Pets clause in the contract.   I asked them about it twice and they denied it (lied).   Can I fine them for having a dog?  $300? Can I charge pet rent retroactively? ($15 p/m?)   pet fee?

-  The house has a "wet dog stench" I cannot get rid of - especially in the sofa.  Can I charge them for the cost of replacing the sofa?  $200?  steam cleaning?

There are other things that exhibit their total negligence and indifference to consequence ...  like melted dishwasher trays; cracked granite above the dishwasher from hitting it with oversized items placed on the tray; kitchen wood panels/doors stained with grease splatter never cleaned which has removed the wood stain, etc.

Any advice? Pleaseee......

Wow - welcome to being a landlord! The answer lies in your lease. Does it specify or stipulate how the security deposit will be calculated and returned? Does it specify that leaks / damage / problems must be reported to you within a set period of time? Does it specify that the tenants must use AC filters?

If you didn't specify filters - you probably cannot line item that. If you didn't specify notification of a leak, I would give that one 50/50. The dog sounds like a blatant violation of the terms of the lease. Simply put - in violating their lease, they could forfeit their security deposit outright (again, depending on how the lease stipulates return of security deposit).

But line items aside, they damaged the property. I would keep their entire security deposit. Take the situation to its hypothetical worst conclusion: the former tenants sue you for their security deposit. You will need to prove a) the condition of the property before the tenants moved in b) the expense associated with repairing the damage (PAID invoices from contractors) and c) that none of the work constitutes an upgrade from the condition of the home prior to their lease. As long as you can prove all of that in the event they sue, keep their security deposit. Make an itemized list of all of the damage, and send them a letter explaining that their security deposit has been held in full to cover (sounds like only partially) the costs of repair.

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