Security Deposit and smokers

13 Replies

I just bought an occupied duplex with long term tenants (Since 2008). Tenants decided to give notice at time of purchase. Tenants admitted there is about 3-4 years of smoke damage to the unit as they started smoking inside the unit a few years ago. 

Assuming the lease doesn't mention smoking, can I take anything out of their security deposit to recover damages? If so, what kind of damages?

Yes. As much as it costs to have the problem fixed: painting, cleaning, etc it can add up.

Fantastic. Does anyone have any recommendations for companies that specialize in this type of work in the Minneapolis Minnesota area? 

Thanks! 

Just use a good primer sealer stain killer and then paint over top of that... You are going to need to replace carpets, curtains, etc as well. I doubt their security deposit will handle all of that.. If they have truly been there for several years, a repaint and new flooring was probably already needed.

I caution owners buying properties that 50-75% of the time you lose tenants when a place sells... I even send letters to existing tenants specifically stating "Looking forward to working with you! Don't worry, we won't be making any huge changes... The only thing changing is where you send your rent check!" and we still lose half of them.

So your saying replacement of these items was expected regardless so the smoke damage is mute. I was thinking about duct work cleaning etc. 

The place has hardwood and vinyl flooring throughout, no carpet. Has plastic blinds so no cloth curtains to worry about there. 

Any ideas regarding what I should look for and can charge for? :) 

Originally posted by @Byron Bohlsen :

So your saying replacement of these items was expected regardless so the smoke damage is mute. I was thinking about duct work cleaning etc. 

The place has hardwood and vinyl flooring throughout, no carpet. Has plastic blinds so no cloth curtains to worry about there. 

Any ideas regarding what I should look for and can charge for? :) 

The plastic blinds will likely be stained, particularly in the room(s) where they smoked most frequently.

While folks will suggest to prime with a sealant primer (such as Zinnsser), if there have been long-term smokers, it may not be sufficient - it will cover in the short-term, but the toxins will eventually find their way to the surface again.

We helped to renovate a house where the prior owner had been a heavy smoker for 30+ years.  The ceiling was almost black over the corner where she sat in her favourite chair and smoked.  Rings in varying shades of brown radiated from that point across the salon and into the kitchen.  We had to take the entire end of the house back to the studs (even the insulation smelled of smoke); prime and seal all of the framing and cladding (employing a primer used by fire restoration contractors)  and rebuild.

1(506) 471-4126

Also try Ozone treatments and Vamoose (a liquid product that can be used for cleaning, spraying, and through a fogger that is much like the Ozone method).

Thanks for all the advice. 

I finally got to spend some time in there and it isn't bad, some kilz will probably do the job.

Check you local state laws but most let you charge to repair the damage.

On further inspection it looks like the smokers spent time smoking under the ceiling fan and now it looks quite stained. I am thinking of replacing the fan.  Any ideas regarding if this can be deducted? 

Have the tenants vacated yet?  You could try giving them a list of what they need to do in order to get their full deposit back, and see if you get lucky.  List anything you think would be reasonable, like wash the walls, steam clean the carpets, clean or replace the fan, etc.

Yep they are gone.  Finally got to spend some  real time inspecting the unit 

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