Tenants of 7yrs wants full deposit back.

72 Replies

@Luke H. It's simple it's the law. It's not something that you made up and they can check with landlord tenant affairs which is normally in every county. The thing I don't think people understand is when you rent something you have to treat it as your own and take care of it. If something breaks, replace it. Sometimes I think renters need a class on what it is to be a renter, how to fix little things and sign something saying they understand their responsibility. Do you require that your renters have renters insurance? I think that should be mandatory everywhere. 

@Mike McCarthy great answer. The fact is if you’re ok, hand on heart, to stand in front of a mediator or judge and justify your deductions against the bond - even if they disagree - you won’t come across as disingenuous and you will be confident as will your attorney in putting forward the case (should it go that far).


7 years is a magic number in my area. It is the life expectancy given most appliances. So even if they did damage a stove for example, it would have depreciated to zero. 

After that long I would expect to replace some appliances, update a few things, replace carpet paint etc. So unless I found holes in the walls (and I'm not talking about picture holes either) or something I would give them their deposit back. 

That said, I would also expect them to have moved out, and given me a chance to check things out. Personally I would not wait the full 30 days, once I had the chance to check for damage I would refund their deposit. but that is me. 

Originally posted by @Adah None :

@Thomas Greer

Are you saying they should have left sooner to get a full deposit?

Meh, just commenting that the longer a unit has been “lived in”...the greater the likelihood that some damage outside of wear and tear has occurred.  A tenant with a shorter stay usually expects a full deposit  a tenant for 3 years usually doesn’t (from my statistically insignificant experience!). 

But as a LL, I am a pushover and value (and reward) an easy long term tenant. If there was no major damage, I would probably just give them their deposit. 


Use your record to prove damages and go from there. After all they saved you a lot of money by renting for 7 years. I'm not saying let them get away with stuff, but make sure it's legit and don't just keep the deposit without good reason. Deposits should be held in an escrow account or as a bonded check, because it's not yours until after they move out. I feel a lot of investors just spend it and then find ways to charge it later. Remember it's a business and they can write a review online and that can hurt your business as well.

After 7 years regular wear and tear accumulates. If the tenants have not prematurely worn out recent ( 2-3 year old ) improvements. Be grateful for 7 uninterrupted years of rent.

@Luke H.

You got 7 years out of them. Count it as a win. And I imagine you’ll be able to bump up rent higher to market rent. I would err on the side of giving them most of it back unless they really trashed the place.

@Luke H.

I've had this discussion with my CA PM a couple of times and he has indicated to me (as noted various times above) that after 7 years it's going to take something pretty egregious to justify withholding deposit money.

That's not to say it can't happen, but obvious things like painting and carpeting will either be covered by normal wear and tear and/or no remaining useful life, either way we get nothing. My PM does (at a minimum) yearly inspections (with photos) to address the remainder for my long term tenants.

I've pushed him a little a time or two to be a little more aggressive, but for the most part I aquiese and let him excercise his best judgement since he has been on the front lines a long time as a PM in CA.

@Luke H. There's a serious misconception in the landlording business!!

When you lend a friend your car you expect to get it back in identical condition, right?

There us no such thing as normal wear and tear! All documented wear comes off the security deposit! Please repeat that to tenants at move in and upon giving notice.

Pm me ill send you the deposit charges sheet for repairs price list that is at the end of my lease and the have to initial at lease signing.

I have property manager friends. You be shot to hear of the list of fees property managers take from tenants. List signing signing fees application fee tenant benefits package fees. Now if you tuned in start searching the forms about all the fees us landlords can charge.

I am not telling you be a mean person or opportunistic I am sharing with you you've got to run this like a business. It's hard enough to actually net a profit at the end of each year and I hope you are good at your own taxes, profit sheet, and know this 1st hand.

@Luke H.

We do pictures during the final walk thru with the tenants, document everything and have them sign. So down the line when they move out we have before and afters for any dispute.

1st, great to see that people are still replying to this post. It shows that we all have different ways of looking at this topic and how we would handle it. Thank you to all for your input. 

@Adah None , @Chris Mcdonald I didn't give all of you a run down of the entire 7yrs. Were they 'good tenants', well that's debatable. I had to re-grout the entire restroom tile once because it got moldy. After that, I hired a cleaning person on my dime for them.  Another time the water heater broke down and they wouldn't stop calling. It just so happened that it was raining for 3 days straight, and I changed it in the pouring rain because they insisted they needed hot water and couldn't wait for it to stop raining. I got sick from that. Oh, did I mention that they decided to have a pet even though they signed a 'No pet' lease. Or every-time they asked me for extra days to pay the rent and I didn't charge them late fees or file eviction.  I could go on and on...The point is I'm not determining this situation based on FEELINGS. 

@Rox Whit - I do require renters insurance, but I don't strictly enforce. When I enforce that, the houses have a much higher turnover rate and stay vacant much longer.

@Jim K. - Small wins accumulate. Handy men assemble!

@Curt Smith - YES!!! This is a business, land-lording isn't easy. Gonna PM you

@Joe S.  - The deposit was $1000.00 and I do count my blessings, thanks.

@Daniel Graham - I'm usually the Grinch , but not this weekend! Even though I'm gonna have to deal with this house and I have another one vacant I got my health and 100 votes on this forum!

Overall, an investigation into what constitutes 'normal wear and tear' is the most prudent course of action. I'd like to see case law on this. Anyone have the resources?

If they damage it then they pay ,cut carpet ,pet satins ,gash in drywall ,dings on stoves ,fridges .You must make sure they are cleaning gutters most time they ignore it ,that can damage basement walls  etc...

"There is no such thing as normal wear and tear! "
I defy you to name a single state whose landlord/tenant law, or any accounting method, that does not permit and allow for normal wear and tear.

@Curt Smith

I am curious about this. 

I was once sued by a LL, who frankly didn't know what she was doing. Her home had been a rental for 10 years, the last 6 rented by me. She felt for example that I should replace the 30 year old dishwasher, because it didn't work very well. Insisted I took a built in wine rack, that was not there, said she had to repaint etc.   She sued me for 10K, (much more than what I said, but you get the point, and there was no wine rack when I moved in) 

The judge found in my favor everything was under normal wear and tear and the fact that she didn't send me an accounting of my deposit. She wrote me a check for double my deposit because she of that last little bit. In Nevada the deposit is property of the tenant, and the LL has to justify keeping it. 

I've always wondered how much was normal wear and tear, and how much was her not sending the accounting. I know I had the right to my deposit back, but was not going to sue her over it. It just wasn't worth the mental energy. 

Is this just different states different rules? 

@Luke H.

Here is/are the thought(s).

1. I concur with all others.

2. From the litany of complaints and excuses that you have provided to us for the last 7 years, it seems to me that you enabled the tenant behavior tgat you now complain of.

Learn from this and the suggestions provided before my reply.

Much success !

Sure some idiotic states like CA, WA, OR have pulled the rug on landlords running a "business".

In most other states; Your lease is a contract!  You have to have in your contract a statement that all wear, damage vs the move in pictures, inspection are deducted from the security deposit.  I repeat;  IT has to be in hyour lease;  all damage vs move in must be repaired by the teant prior to move out or is deducted from the security deposit.

My lease includes a repair costs sheet;  $75 per hole in the wall,  $250 per room if marks on the wall, $75 per room to steam clean.  blabla

Of course if you don;t have any such verbage you will loose in evictoin/ magistrate court!!!!  Please folks create a better "contract" (your lease).

== Fees

- create a list of fees you charge tenants.  BTW apartments, PMs have enormous creative fees.  Us small timer landlords would be shocked at the fees PMs/apartments charge.  $75 app fee, $75 lease signig fee.  So far $150 to move in.  Then $250 tenant benefits packaage (auto signup for utilities and a few other benefigts).  and many more.  PMs are very creative.  Stop balking at charging costs off the deposit!  We don';t make that much off our rentals.  Tenants leave a place in poor condition right?

I do David Tilneys ( https://davidtilney.com/ ) "zero day", which means the next tenant moves in the day after the current tent moves out.  WHAT you say?  Is that possible?  Yes it is!   Search "zero day".  No not every turn over is zero days.  But 90% are zero months. I eat zero months no rent on 90% of my turn overs.  Its a bigger picture to pull this off;  low to no fix up needed to move the next the tenant in, the current tenant shows the house to the next tenanbt, and turns over a move ready house to me, then the next tenant (near zero day...).  I recommend David Tilney's landlording training.  

Best to all here, curt