Inherited tenant-security deposit- original condition? Don’t know

5 Replies

Any ideas on how to proceed with security deposit if you have no idea what the condition of apartment was prior to purchase and damage will likely be the result of wear and tear as previous landlords did nothing to maintain apartment tenant has been in for 10 years?


I purchased a house with tenant that has since left. I have to do a walkthrough in a few days.   I find myself in a difficult position. Tenant has  been in property for over 10 years and previous landlords did nothing to maintain the apartment. What i do know is tenant took the time to paint the apartment on her own which includes colors of green, blue and red and she had her wood floors stained because “she was tired of the color” i suspect it was to hide scratches and cat urine spots. 

Lease said no pets she had two cats.  No pet deposit was ever taken.  I am concerned about the smell of the cats and possible spraying on the walls and stains to the wood floor from cat urine that i may not see because she went ahead and stained the floors.   so I think i should take some money for a cleaner to clean the entire apartment including walls.  My hope is that this will help minimize smells for the next tenant.

There is also a hideous incomplete popcorn ceiling in the living room that i don’t believe was rented to her this way it’s just so terrible looking i can’t even imagine.  But i don’t know. Also, I learned from someone that she removed a ceiling fan that she purchased (but again, i don’t know and have no idea what fixtures were there. Asking previous landlord about these issues is pointless he kept the house for 3 years took the money and ran and previous owner who would know is now deceased )

Any suggestions?  At this point what stands out as obvious is the cleaning fee and a small amount for paint as i may need to put one extra coat because of the bright colors she put. 

Any ideas what to look for, consider, charge for when i do this walk through? 

How much of a deposit do you have?
Did you have the house inspected or at least walk through the property yourself prior to purchase?

Do you have a copy of the original lease that says they accepted the house in good condition?

Is there a move in inspection report for the tenant?

If you have none of this I assume you bought the house really cheap since you didn't know what exactly you were buying?

If this is the case and you have a $500 deposit then unless there is obvious damage like from holes in the wall then I would just give them their deposit back and move on to rehabbing the house.

I had this same exact issue.  

If there is no move in inspection it is expected that the property was provided to them in a clean and functional manner.  

Just by the things you’ve said you could be within your rights to charge for repainting and fixing the hardwood floors.  Throw in some cleaning fees and I’m sure you will he well over the security deposit that was given at closing. 

Send them a bill for all the legal items you can charge for and you won’t hear from them again.  Sadly that’s how it is.  Whatever you get in a security deposit is all you are going to get out of someone no matter the damage.  In my experience. 

@Allana Alex  This is a common problem when buying a property with an inherited tenant where the previous owner didn't do a walk-thru inspection or document the condition of the home upon move-in, or just no longer has the records to prove the move-in condition. 

Honestly, based on what you described, I would just return the entire security deposit because - if challenged on any deductions - it sounds like you would have absolutely no way to prove the home wasn't in that condition when it was originally rented to the tenant.  With no previous move-in report or photos, and the previous owner being deceased, you'd be fighting a battle that you couldn't win (in my opinion). 

@Allana Alex without photos from when she moved in or some type of move in checklist, you have no way to prove what condition the property was in. Given that she was there ten years, it is hard to charge for paint because a property requires repainting every 7-10 years. 

Given the history on this property, it is very likely it was rented with crappy popcorn ceiling. You wouldn't believe the way some landlords rent their properties. Things broken, ugly, stained. That is actually very common and very likely in this case.

Really it is your word against hers and you were not there when she moved in, so you are just guessing. I would give back the entire deposit and move on. Unless she left it a total mess, there is no way for you to know.

Thank you everyone for the feedback it was really helpful.  Based on everyone’s advise Unless the house is a total mess large holes in walls etc, I think i will just take out for cleaning and send her on her way. Never had a problem with receiving rent from her and the $1,900 security will be of use to her for her new apartment.  I see from your feedback that this is the price one pays when they inherit a tenant and there are no pictures/records/information and house was poorly maintained.