How much can we take out from a security deposit ?

7 Replies

Hello Bigger Pockets commumity ! I do have a question related to an apartment I rented for the pass 4 years in New York City. The landlord decided to take $1400 of the deposit without any explaination. We received a small note like this: -Paint and small repairs: $ 900 -Other supplies: $300 -Rent ; $100 We really took care of the apartment, removing all the shelves, plug all the holes and did the cleaning myself. The apart was repainted before we lived in but, I beleive this is a normal wear and tear, I did not break any wall, window or cabinets... I really left the place in a perfect condition. What are my option here, I do not understand why $1400 was taking out of our security deposit for no reason. I left a voicemail today to the landlord and we do hope to have an answer soon. I am myself a landlord and I wonder what can I “reasonnably“ deduct from the deposit. Thanks. Emilie
@Emilie Ponsin I’ve run into this problem before doing several leases for my clients, and now I’m starting a PM company so I imagine it’s going to be something I come across a lot more. In California, there is a 3 year life expectancy for paint. So if you lived there for 3 years, they shouldn’t charge you. They can charge a reasonable cleaning fee. I’m not sure Colorado’s laws are the same but you could check with the Colorado Department of Real Estate for their specific guidelines. And they most certainly do have well defined guidelines for tenants deposits.

If you plugged holes, there could be some charge for primering and painting the damaged areas to match the rest of the rental walls.  Normal wear and tear would be cleaning and painting without need for primering or multiple coats.  Dirt is also not considered normal wear and tear.  Smoke and/or grease residue from smoking or cooking would also not be normal wear and tear.  These are just examples.  You might try requesting more of a description/breakdown of costs from the landlord to see exactly what was done.

Hey @Emilie Ponsin! Make sure, as Kathy said in her post, to request a breakdown of costs when you speak with your landlord. I personally would ask for receipts from the painters & for the "other supplies." As far as the rent charge, I would have a receipt of payment on your end to prove that you paid your rent in full. Best of luck! 

@Emilie Ponsin how did the call go with your landlord?   I live in the suburbs of NY and have gone through a similar experience.  What you described is normal wear and tear in the eyes of the court and it is very difficult for a landlord to with hold your security deposit for that.  Let me know if you need more information.  

I personally haven't done this but I'm curious if you can mandate a pre-inspection with the landlord.  Move out a week early, fix everything and then have them inspect everything that they would dock from your deposit.  The key is moving out early so you have time to make corrections if needed.  Then there is no excuse.  The problem would be getting them to commit and look at this, I know a lot of management firms utilize these deposits for extra revenue but they need to be fair and give you every opportunity to correct.  At least that's my opinion...