Tenant Move-Out Questions

13 Replies

Hello BP! Looking for guidance from the more experienced property managers and investors! We are moving out our first tenant (who, BTW was truly fantastic). We were in the property over the weekend and the house, in general is in very good shape. Looks like the walls need to be painted, a couple chips in the drywall, one broken mini-blind. The carpet, floors, cabInets look good. Our questions: 1. what is and what isn’t normal wear and tear? Should we deduct from the security deposit the cost to paint the walls or is that just part of the deal? What about the chips In the drywall? 2. Before you move a new tenant in, do you paint everytime If the walls are scuffed? Thank you in advance!!

Hello. Part of it depends on how long the tenant was there. If they were there for a year and messed up the walls then deduct it. If they were there for way longer, like 4+ years I personally wouldn't charge them for the paint work/minor chips in the wall (large chunks are a different story). But I would deduct for the mini-blind. 

I don't paint every turnover because I'm in C neighborhood with monthly rents ranging between $400-$650. 

If I was renting out homes that rented for $1500+ a month I'd be more proactive in painting between tenants. 

@Karl B. Thank you so much for your insights. Very helpful. They were in for 7 months on a short-term rental paid by an insurance company. The rent was $1,850 for a solid 3/2 in a B area with probably a B property. Goal is to rent again for $1,650 so feels like we should repaint. Definitely will charge for the small stuff as probably half of the paint for the walls. Big help! Thank you

Hey Rob! If they were only there for 7 months, I would go ahead and charge them for painting the unit. As Karl said, it would be considered normal wear and tear if they were there at least 4 years. Make sure that you keep documentation (i.e. receipts for painters, supplies, etc.) on hand in the case that the tenants try and dispute the charges. In addition, I'd definitely go ahead and paint for the next tenants for sure if you're in a B neighborhood with a B property. Best of luck!

Unless that walls are bad I don't think it is appropriate to charge for repainting. If the only reason you want to paint is so it lookd fresh and clean for a new teant that is normal wear and tear. It is like driving a new car off the lot and the value drops 25% even though it is still a brand new car with less than 30 miles on it. The same is true with paint and carpet, If someone is only there for a week, there is going there is still going to be a reasonalble amount of wear and tear. 

Some states are very strict about security deposits. In MD you can be forced to pay tripple damages for mis-handling the deposit. Make sure you look into the laws in your area.

I'm a little confused as to why the walls need to be repainted.  If it is just a couple chips in the drywall and scuffs on the wall, I'd charge for the drywall repair and the touch-up painting.  At worst, maybe only a wall or room would need to be repainted if it is too much damage for touch-up.  However, if it is time to repaint the walls because the previous paint job is a few years old anyway, that is all the more reason to be fair with what you subtract from the SD.  I just saw your second post.  Half of the paint for the walls sounds very reasonable, assuming it was a decent amount of scuffs/minor wall repair.

Same thing with the broken mini-blind.  If they are old, brittle, and worn anyway, I possibly wouldn't charge for that and just replace them.  But, assuming they are in good condition, then that is definitely a fair charge.

I've only had more than one rental for less than 3 years, so I'm not the best judge of how often units need to be painted.  The one unit I have had for 7 years has been repainted twice.  I don't even know how long the paint had been there the first time I repainted.  But I rented it that way for about 3 years.  Then I repainted. due to no fault of a tenant, it was just overdue.  Unfortunately, that paint job only lasted about 2 1/2 years because my last tenants in there just destroyed it.  We even tried touching it up, but the end result looked horrible.  It was just too much wall damage for touch-ups.  So we totally repainted.  Most of my other units were fixer-uppers that we repainted before renting them out.  I've only re-rented one of those since I bought them and it did not have to be repainted.  The paint still looks great in all of those units. 

@Rob Wilcox I would recommend sending an itemized list with the returned deposit (this is what we did at the apartment complex that I worked at). If they want further proof, you can always email them the receipts of payment!

@Jennifer T. Wish we had a 3-year renter! This was a short-term solution with an insurance company paying for a family who lost their house in a fire. This, they are definitely moving out and back into their newly rebuilt home. It’s a happy story and just want to do what is fair. They have two little kids and the walls are quiet a bit beat up. For sure in a way that would need to be repaired prior to a new renter moving in. Especially since we are looking for rent above $1,600 / month.

@Rob Wilcox , not sure your landlord tenant laws specifically, but most states do not allow you to charge for your time, only to charge for what you have paid out. Also, most states require you to return the deposit in full - or partially with an accounting for how you spent the amount that was not returned. Read your state's landlord tenant laws to find out how you are to handle this. Most have a very tight timeframe for return - like 3 weeks.

I think it depends on how much damage. If they're still in the area, I'd probably eat the expense. If they are as enthusiastic about you as you are them, they may very well leave you a solid review (and if you're not asking for one, you should!) and suggest to others that they use you. That, to me, is worth a lot more than $75 in spackle, paint and labor.

Now if they did $500 worth of gauges and need a gallon of paint, that's a different story.

For #2, no, I don't paint in between every time, but I do have a cleaning crew scrub down the walls and get as much 'scuff' off of them as possible.

My .02. Good luck!


@Jerrod Price So...this is done and thought the folks here might be interested to see how it played out. We did the exit walk-thru and the walls were worse than realized. They cleaned them with bleach and they clearly needed to be re-painted. We made notes and took pictures. I shared that we would get an estimate and circle back with the cost to be deducted from the security deposit. I gave her a copy of the exit walk thru form. Later that day, I receive a phone call from her husband. Let’s just say he was very upset and immediately shared / demanded all the money back. It was quite the experience. It quickly became the goal to just get off the phone and think through options. BTW - The walls absolutely needed to be re painted. We also since paid a cleaning company $150 for a hard cleaning. I decide to call them back and take it head on, fIrst though by establishing the ground rules of respect and no yelling. The tenants offered $300 to be withheld from the deposit They used this as an InItIal offer to negotIate After more back and forth, I simply accepted their offer and chalked it up to experience. We ended up painting it ourselves and after about $250 in materials and two days worth of work, we’ve turned the unit and have the new tenants in the house. Thanks to everyone on this thread for their advice and help. Does have have a best practice for the reduction of the security deposit to the tenant? If we painted it ourselves would we bill for labor and provide a receipt? Or, should we just sign the exit walk thru agreement with the reduction of $300 for painting / materials?