Return of Security Deposit

6 Replies

To get to the point, my question is how nit picky do you get when determining how much of the security deposit to return?

So I purchased my first 2 family home back in November and gave the first floor tenant until January 1 to move out so I could move in.  He was very accommodating and all went well.  I've picked up the keys from him and told him to give me a week to inspect the place and assess how much of the security deposit will be returned.

I haven't gone through everything with a fine comb, but it generally looks good.  There's some chips in the paint on the walls and some of the blinds are broken, but nothing major so far.  How do you decipher between:

  • Normal wear and tear
  • Small things that you ignore
  • Items worthy of deducting from security deposit

Did they steal your stove - charge them?

small items that are 'questionable' in regards to wear and tear - suck it up

I go by this metric - If the tenant pushes back and you end up in court, would you want to defend your itemized list proudly in front of a judge and strangers?

just my personal method.

Do you have a move-in sheet from when the tenant first moved in and inspected the property himself?  If so, work from that to determine condition that is different from the original condition at move in.

If not, then you can't charge for anything as you can't prove that the current tenant is responsible.

If you DO have a move in sheet to work from........

Know your shelf life of stuff.  You cannot charge for these things if they are beyond their shelf life.  Example, carpet has a 4 year shelf life.  If your carpet is more than 4 years old, it doesn't matter how many stains they put on it, you can't charge them (and have it hold up in court).

Holes in the wall bigger than a small nail hole can be charged for patching.  The blinds I would charge for since these needs to be replaced (unless they were on his list as previously broken).

Also, make accommodation for how long he has lived there.  If he is a long term tenant and the worst of it is a few chips in the paint and a couple of broken blinds, I would probably let that slide.

@Chris Lombardi Congratulations on your first purchase!

Do you have pictures/checklist of the condition of the property when tenant first moved in? All costs associated with getting the unit back to that condition should be deducted from security deposit. As you are not the one who leased to this individual, I would recommend deducting all costs associated with getting the unit back to your living standards, within reason of course.

Happy investing! Peace!

I'd charge for the blinds in most cases because they add up quickly. I found that even the cheap ones for a few bucks are only a few bucks. I am shocked if they make it out of a turnover unscathed. There really isn't a middle ground for blinds because all of a sudden you're looking at $30 for a similar sized pair that likely hold up but tenants are not known for cleaning blinds at all so I expect those to look dirty and they are a pain to clean. At that point they get charged for cleaning the blinds which is close to what it might be to just replace. 

Blinds are one of my least favorite turn over items

I too hate blinds.  I supply the window and curtain rod, blinds?  Pass.  Great advise above on what to go by and am learning too here so great post.  I do personally take photos too, to add to the move-in checklist and then use that.  I have in the past been too lenient, but you have to realize it is a business so run it as such but also do not be too picky, balance it out.  As someone said above, would you be able to defend your deductions in court?  If so go for it, if not skip it.  It is the cost of doing business and repairs generally have some deductions to them at tax time.