Wear and Tear
How to define wear and tear and can the landlord keep your deposits?
Normal wear-and-tear refers to the expected deterioration that occurs to a property over time, resulting from regular use and aging. It includes minor scuffs, carpet wear in high-traffic areas, and faded paint. Property managers should not charge tenants for these types of damages as they are considered part of the property's natural aging process.
Tenants may be charged for damages beyond normal wear-and-tear that exceed the tenant's responsibilities outlined in the lease agreement. Examples include significant wall damage, broken fixtures, excessive carpet stains, or missing appliances. Property managers should conduct a thorough move-in and move-out inspection with the tenant to document any pre-existing damage and assess any new damages upon the tenant's departure.
When Tenants Can Be Charged:
Typically, tenants can be charged for damages after they have vacated the property and completed the move-out process. Property managers should provide an itemized list of deductions from the security deposit along with any supporting documentation, such as repair receipts or photographs.
If a Property Manager Holds the Tenant's Deposit Hostage:
If a tenant believes their deposit is being wrongfully withheld or held hostage by a property manager, they can take the following steps:
Review the Lease Agreement: Carefully review the lease agreement to understand the terms and conditions regarding the return of the security deposit.
Communicate with the Property Manager: Contact the property manager to discuss the situation and inquire about the reasons for withholding the deposit. Document all communication in writing.
Demand Letter: If initial communication does not resolve the issue, the tenant can send a demand letter requesting the return of the deposit within a specified timeframe. Seek legal advice to ensure the letter is properly drafted.
Small Claims Court or Mediation: If the property manager continues to withhold the deposit, the tenant may choose to file a claim in small claims court or explore mediation options. Consult with an attorney or seek guidance from your local housing authority for further assistance.
Legal Advice for Tenants and Property Managers:
Tenants seeking legal advice can reach out to local tenant advocacy organizations, legal aid societies, or consult with a real estate attorney specializing in tenant rights. Property managers can consult with real estate attorneys who specialize in landlord-tenant law or seek guidance from professional organizations such as local real estate associations or property management associations.
Property managers should follow applicable local laws and regulations when charging tenants for damages. They should provide an itemized list of deductions, including repair costs, and return any remaining portion of the security deposit within the required timeframe specified by local laws.
It's important to note that the information provided here is general in nature and may not cover all aspects or specific legal requirements of your jurisdiction. It's always recommended to consult with a qualified attorney or legal professional for advice tailored to your particular situation.