When a tenant first moves into an apartment or other rental dwelling unit, they typically need to fill out an inventory of all of the existing damage and visible wear to the unit and its amenities. That inventory can eventually play an important role at the end of the lease.
The inventory may provide the basis for the landlord making claims against the tenant’s security deposit or give the tenant grounds to defend against those claims. The landlord can retain some or all of a security deposit to recoup the cost to repair damages to the unit that exceeds normal wear and tear.
What are some common examples of tenant damages that impact the security deposit?
Damage to the walls
Whether the unit has plaster or drywall, making physical repairs will be expensive, making cosmetic repairs may require repainting an entire room. The tenants may think that minor damage, like nails to hang family photos, are a non-issue.
However, wall damage can be costly to repair. In addition to nail holes or marks where tape or other adhesive has pulled paint off the walls, there could be holes in the wall from someone punching the drywall or staining caused by smoking indoors.
Water damage to various parts of the unit
There are numerous ways that a tenant can cause water damage to an apartment. In the kitchen with bad ventilation, putting away dishes still steaming from the dishwasher might cause water damage to the interior of the cupboards.
Not using a fan while bathing or showering could cause water damage to the walls in the bathroom or mold growth. Even hardwood floors could suffer water damage if tenants aren’t careful about their personal habits.
Damage to appliances and fixtures
If a tenant consistently overfills a washer and exceeds its weight limit, they could damage the device and force the landlord to repair or replace it. Tenants could cause discoloration or interior damage to refrigerators and freezers by storing things improperly. They could loosen wires by pulling on a fixture or cause cosmetic damage in any number of ways.
Appliances can be expensive to either replace or repair. Apartment-grade fixtures may be cheap to purchase, but they may require professional work if there’s damage to the plumbing or wiring. Any significant damage to a unit could lead to a landlord making a security deposit claim.
Recognizing that damages are a common source of landlord-tenant disputes can help those moving in or out of an apartment and their landlords better approach that transition.