Normal Wear and Tear vs Damage (WA)

2 Replies


-I failed to do the walk through inspection with tenant before they moved in or get pictures when I moved out. I just have my gf and the original pictures from when I bought the place as evidence of condition. I obviously do this now with other rentals, including this one. In fact, I intended to with this one, but the tenant suggested they go through and take pictures, which I'm not sure if they did or not.

-Carpet and paint are about 5 years old. I lived there for 26 months myself before I turned it into a rental and it was nice other than some minor smudges here and there.

-Security Deposit: $600

-Non Refundable pet deposit $400 (for two cats, though they got an unauthorized dog after the fact).

-Lease agreement is in my favor as they are responsible for damages and prevailing parties attorneys fees (although that could go against me too), etc.

Tenant of 26 months is moving out. Paid rent on time, if not early, rarely a bother, etc. They trimmed the bushes off the roof of the house, bought a new mail box out of their own pocket.

But I'm finding a few things that I'm not sure whether they are damage or not, and others that are clearly damage, but so minor that I'm wondering if it worth the hassle dinging their security deposit.

Tenant is a married couple with two kids, though, they violated several terms of the lease:1) Got a dog [pit bull] that was not allowed. 2) Her sister and what appears to be one of her kids moved in with them at some point apparently after her divorce, I presume less than a year. 3) They got a pool that, along with the dog, caused me to have to get new insurance which was a huge hassle since I have 5 policies and an umbrella policy and have to move them all to get the best rates and the umbrella...

With that background here come the questions:

Obvious damage but not sure if I should ding them:
-Two torn/missing blinds in front of house. These blinds were brand new, about $60. Guide says that dusty or faded blinds are normal wear, but torn or missing blinds are damage...

-Torn carpet in door way of one of kids rooms. Tenant cut a piece of carpet out to put in it's place, about the width of the doorway and 8" tall. Better than before, but still, the carpet was 4.5 years old and I never once wore shoes in there or ate or drank in carpeted areas. Guide says this is damage...

-Window Screens are torn all round house. Guide says this is damage...

-Trim around bottom left of door frame of one of kids bedrooms is banged up and needs to be replaced. Probably have to do all of the trim in that room to make it match. Guide says this is damage...

-Door to back bedroom has a hole in the back of it. This was a brand new door BUT, I will replace out of my own pocket anyways since it doesn't fit the doorway right; it doesn't close all the way. Damage...but will not be dinging them on this one since the door needs to be replaced anyway.

-Noticeable but not terribly strong pet odor throughout house, which according the guide, is considered damage...

Things I'm not sure about:

-Walls and doors are dirty in many parts of the house. Not like, oh man, that really stands out like somebody threw a pot of soup on it, but obvious smudges and marks from the kids putting their dirty hands on the walls. Washington state has no legal definition of normal wear and tear, but there is some guidance documentation that states that nail holes, paint etc. are normal but large holes in the walls are damages. Looks like this could be normal wear and tear.

-Vinyl flooring by back door is torn up. Cheap and easy fix, but should I eat the cost? Guide says this is damage, but is it worth dinging their deposit?

-Cold water handle for bathroom is crooked now. Guide says this is normal wear...

Also, the tenant had mentioned they were going to paint the interior. When I brought it up again later, they kind of pushed back by being hesitant to say anything, so I think they are trying to weasel out of it. Too bad I didn't get it in writing, though I do have an email where they said they will need time to clean and fix the place up after they move out.

Keep in mind, most of these items I can fix out of the pet fee, but it should really come out of their security deposit. With Grad school, work and other rentals in play, is it worth the hassle in this case?

@Jack B. You have a bigger problem man - $600 isn't going to come close to covering all of that damage. Some of it is obvious damage, but you really needed something to document how the house was when they got it. You're SOL IMHO. Live and learn....

I would document the damage and inform them before the deadline, and I'm sure they probably have been expecting it, since they offered to paint the place.  Sounds like $600 isn't gonna cover it all, so use it.  That dog probably did most of the damage.