Damage to rental property countertop

6 Replies

About a year into my tenant living at my rental house they told me the laminate countertop received a burn hole through it about the size of a quarter. The tenant just put duct tape over it so no water could soak into the wood below and kept on using the countertop. I did have the company who orignally put in the countertop come out and give me a bid to fix it. They said the whole countertop would need to get replaced which would cost a lot of money. I told them at the time without getting a price to not come fix it because the tenant was fine just living with the duct tape on the counter. 

Now the tenant has moved out and I went to see what the actual bid price was and they wanted over $900. I was a little shocked how expensive it was. I was figuring a few hundred dollars but after reading the description of tearing up the old one, scribing the laminate up against the backsplash and removing and resetting the sink I guess I could see the price. 

The company told me the hole was too big to repair but I did look into repairing laminate and some things did pop up but not sure how reliable it is.

My question is can I charge to have the whole countertop replaced so the counter is 100% back to normal or do I have to settle for just a repair?

I want to be fair to my tenant but I also don't want to get a repair that doesn't fully fix the hole. I'm starting to think the laminate company just told me the whole thing needed replaced because it is in their best interest to sell me more laminate countertop

Originally posted by @Elenis C.:

@Brett M. I say if the tenant damaged it, it should come out of their security deposit. It depends on your state laws for this I assume and what is on the lease. Did you already return their security deposit?

No I have not returned it yet. I am in WA state. Their lease just ended 5 days ago and I have 14 days to return the deposit. 

My main question is: Can I only charge them for a repair or a replacement countertop?

The one company I had out told me the hole was too big too repair and that I needed to replace the whole countertop to do it correctly but after doing some googling I have found there may be ways to repair it.

@Brett M. Okay, good thing you haven't returned it yet. I think it's unfair for you to just get a not-so-great repair on it and then have other tenants come in and have to live with it. Not that it's a huge deal but still, it's your property and you rented it without the hole. I know you want to be nice but they should have been more careful. That's a pretty big hole and irresponsible of them to let it happen. My opinion is to get it replaced at a fair price and take it out of their deposit.

Any landlords from Washington state know if this is possible? I would assume so. 

Originally posted by @Elenis C.:

@Brett M. Okay, good thing you haven't returned it yet. I think it's unfair for you to just get a not-so-great repair on it and then have other tenants come in and have to live with it. Not that it's a huge deal but still, it's your property and you rented it without the hole. I know you want to be nice but they should have been more careful. That's a pretty big hole and irresponsible of them to let it happen. My opinion is to get it replaced at a fair price and take it out of their deposit.

Any landlords from Washington state know if this is possible? I would assume so. 

Yes that is pretty much it. It was a brand new countertop before they moved in and I don't want to settle for just a repair if it could possibly lead to compromising the countertop down the road.

Hi @Brett M. Washington state law changed and you now have 21 days to return a security deposit to a tenant.  In the situation you are describing I would charge the tenant for the damage to the counter top.  Our lease states the unit is to be returned in the condition it was received.  

I had a similar situation happen in the past on a smaller counter top that was beside the stove.  I actually installed a 12x12 tile over the burn mark rather than replacing the small counter top.  In that situation the tile matched the counter really well and my new tenants really liked having a place they could set hot pans next to the stove. If the burn mark is in an area where you could do a creative solution like this then that may be another option for dealing with this particular situation.

Best of luck.