How are these types of things deducted from deposit?

9 Replies

We received a list of what I would call grievances from our previous landlords. It was not an itemized list of deductions. As a military family, we’ve rented for a good chunk of the past 23 years, but I’ve never encountered something like this before nor have we ever lost a dime of previous deposits. It’s basically a list of complaints. For example, “A lightbulb was out on the automated deck lighting and it took us a long time to figure out why it wasn’t working”.  Can they charge for the time it took to “figure things out”? There are also a LOT of small complaints, such as “there is a small black mark on the white deck fence” and I have no idea how it will or can  be dealt with. Surely they can’t charge us to replace an entire deck panel?  And there are also several things that were for certain not our doing, but proving that will be he said/she said. 

They mentioned carpet “issues”, which I’m assuming is the high traffic areas. Is my understanding correct that if they choose to replace it, they must abide by useful life calculations (its 4 + years old)?  Another complaint is fading paint. This one irks me a bit because the paint on the walls is actually builder primer and they required us to wash all walls prior to move out. The giant tub of paint even states that it is not suitable for certain environments, including high traffic areas or washing. Finally, there were scratches on the stainless steel fridge. I finally figured out they were caused by the watch on my husband’s paralyzed arm brushing against it. The fridge works perfectly - no damage, cleaned inside and behind on a regular basis. I was told they could only charge if they choose to replace the front panel. 

Thank you in advance for any insight. 

Based on what you've provided, it seems like this is over the top.  Did you do a move-in/move-out inspection?  Was there signed documentation to accompany it?

Again, based on your interpretation of the situation, it seems like they are being unreasonable.  Are they bitter for some reason?  (not an excuse, but perhaps an explanation)

However. there are two sides to every story.  I would see how your disbursement of security deposit shakes out, then if you are not satisfied you may have to take them to small claims court and have a judge decide. 

I would go and discuss the issues as they request. Make your case and make it clear to them what you feel is a fair resolution.

Your landlord sounds like a novice that is way too over protective of the property. Hobby landlords can be very anal. Hold your ground and do not let them push you around.

Originally posted by @Wesley W. :

Based on what you've provided, it seems like this is over the top.  Did you do a move-in/move-out inspection?  Was there signed documentation to accompany it?

Again, based on your interpretation of the situation, it seems like they are being unreasonable.  Are they bitter for some reason?  (not an excuse, but perhaps an explanation)

They may very well be bitter. We signed a 2 year lease through September 2018.  They are also a military family and in late 2017  he requested to be transferred  back to this area (he admits it was voluntary).  They emailed us and asked us to terminate the lease early and move out between December 18 and January 2nd. We had to decline due to my husband’s medical status, the short notice and the cost of the move (no concessions were offered). We did tell them that depending on the outcome of the medical board,  which was expected to conclude late November,  that we would try to move out early. We vacated the lease 3 months earl to accommodate them. 

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

I would go and discuss the issues as they request. Make your case and make it clear to them what you feel is a fair resolution.

Your landlord sounds like a novice that is way too over protective of the property. Hobby landlords can be very anal. Hold your ground and do not let them push you around.

 You are correct.  They were renting out their home while starioned elsewhere with the military. They have no other properties and had a strong emotional attachment to the house. Definitely a lesson learned for us going forward. 

Read the local landlord tenant guidelines before you go to discuss it with them. Me i would let them vent but refer back to the lease and local law in the discussion on what charges are valid. They could charge for cleaning for some stuff but if you washed the walls I think that might not stick because that is a bit over the top. Sure there are things you might not have noticed on move out. A burnt out bulb they can charge for a bulb replacement not figuring out they need to replace a bulb... It is thier house they should know how it works.

You could discuss the issues or just respond in writing to ensure there's no emotional element. Explain it just like you did to us and then wait to see if they intend to charge you for these items or if they accept your explanation.

You should be responsible for the bulb but not the time it took them to figure it out. The black mark on the fence would normally be chalked up to ordinary wear-and-tear unless it were egregious. Carpet can generally be cleaned to remove dirt and owners have to expect wear-and-tear over time so I don't know that they have a case if it's "ordinary" traffic patterns. If they choose to charge you, it should be prorated based on the percentage of area you are responsible for and based on the remaining life of the carpet. As for the paint, you should be able to show them the can or let them test it themselves to see what happens when the walls are washed.

Again, I would recommend a written explanation and then see how they respond.