Security Deposit

8 Replies

Inherited a 14 year tenant. She passed away. Family is asking for the security deposit. All the carpets in the whole unit need to be replaced. Is that normal wear and tear? I wasn't there 14 years ago when she moved in so I don't know what the place looked like then but even if it was perfect what would be the way to handle this? Then also taking into confederation the ethical thing to do in this situation.

Return the deposit

Max is correct ... return the deposit.   Those carpets were considered worn-out almost a decade ago.

@Michael Garcia - If the carpets are the only cause for concern, then, you absolutely must return the security deposit. This is attributable to wear and tear over 14 years....probably.

If there are other significant damages to the apartment, then, you have to make adjustments accordingly. But, you did not list this as an issue at the outset, so I suspect this is a moot point.

Furthermore, in this time of grief and considering the deceased lived there so long, you should show some empathy. 

Money is not all!  You should step up to the plate, rise above the fray and return the security deposit without any fuss with the family.

This is an ideal opportunity to raise the rent for the next tenant most likely.

Definitely feels like the right thing to do. Thanks guys

Personally, I disagree that you owe the family the security deposit based solely on the fact your tenant died.  For all you know, these are greedy twits who never even called her.

So, just make sure you do everything according to the law as to how you're supposed to handle the deposit.  Were you supposed to do an inspection, did they have the opportunity to clean, did you meet the timelines, etc., etc.

Then, as far as normal wear and tear, carpets and appliances have a useable life, and when determining normal wear and tear, you are required to depreciate the charge to the tenant, based on how much life is left in it.

For instance, if a carpet has a 10 year life, and was 5 years old when a tenant moved in and then destroyed it, you could only charge them for 1/2 the cost of a replacement carpet.

Odds are good that the carpet that was in your unit did not have a useable life of over 14 years.  So, you probably can't deduct a dime.

Then, otherwise, normal wear and tear is something that would happen with normal use over time.  An example of what would not be normal wear and tear, would be holes in the walls where someone put a fist through it, or a hole in a door where someone kicked it in, that kind of thing.  

You might find this website helpful, even though it's from CA.  Scroll down to the blue section, toward the bottom of that section on useful life and normal wear and tear:

I will defiantly check it out. Thanks

After 14 years almost everything is going to be considered wear-and-tear, unless you had to make some other repairs or replacements along the way. If I had a good paying, responsible tenant who stayed 14 years, I would happily return the full deposit and bake the relatives a cake too!

I agree with the other PPs that the carpet is probably wear and tear.  I'm assuming it looked in the same worn condition when you bought the home.

But, when returning the deposit, it needs to be returned to her estate...not necessarily her relatives.  I don't know what the process is for finding that out, but I'm assuming you don't actually know what was in her will or if she had one or if her estate is still in probate.  Maybe she has 4 children and, right now, only two of them have contacted you.  Maybe she left all her worldly possessions to her favorite charity and none of her relatives are entitled to the security deposit.

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