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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #1 

Hi everyone! I'm pretty new to the landlord game. I recently had a tenant move out. When they moved out, we went through the house together. The carpet was badly stained (most likely needs replacement) and there are multiple holes in the wall that the tenant has attempted to patch up. All the walls need to be repainted. The tenant and I agreed that instead of getting a security deposit back, I will pay the tenant's bills for the month and keep the security deposit.The tenant even signed an agreement that stated he will recieve $0 of his security deposit back. I told the tenant that they did not need to sign an agreement and they can think this over. The tenant said he was ok with this deal and signed the agreement. It was a verbal agreement and contractual agreement from my point of view. 

A few days later, the tenant contacted me changing their mind. I informed him that he has signed an agreement saying he would receive $0 back. He essentially spammed my phone with texts and threats. Now he is threatening to sue and demands an itemized list. 

Is the agreement he signed legally binding? Can he sue? 


Posts: 246
Reply with quote  #2 
That's a question for a local lawyer.  It will depend on your jurisdiction.  It might be valid or it could be illegal/void because it violates state or local laws.

Check the Landlordology State Laws section.  Go to your state and look at the statutes regarding security deposits.  Then check with a local lawyer or experienced landlord.

AccidentalRental - Helping Homeowners Become Landlords


Posts: 580
Reply with quote  #3 
I would go ahead and give him an itemized breakdown of all damages beyond normal wear and tear. It's in your interest if it comes out much higher than the actual security deposit. That way, it discourages him from going to court in the first place because he knows he owes you even more, plus if it does go to court and the judge thinks anything was normal wear and tear, you still have everything else to fall back on. I wouldn't stick to just what was agreed upon at the time, if there is anything that wasn't explicitly mentioned in the walk-through, I would still list it. Also remember that it's not your actual cost to fix something, it's a reasonable cost to repair it by an outside repairman (in most areas). For example, if they damaged blinds and you replace them with $40 blinds, you can charge $55 per blinds including installation. 

The carpet may be more of an issue depending on how old it was. If it was brand new to this tenant who only stayed a year, that's one thing. If it was 3-4 years old and you usually get 5-7 years out of carpet, you need to adjust what you charge for the carpet.

Posts: 3,817
Reply with quote  #4 
I agree.  You really need to do an itemized statement.  Most states have laws saying the tenant cannot be made to forfeit a deposit.  The deposit should be accounted for by itemized statement and the remainder, if any, refunded to his forwarding address.  You should be charging for damages beyond wear and tear (the normal and expected deterioration of items and surfaces used by the number of tenants and pets authorized to live in the unit for the period of their tenancy).  If you need to charge for replacements, they need to be of like kind.  (So a $5 blind to replace a $5 blind - not a $40 blind to replace a $5 blind).  Carpets should be depreciated for the period you are using for your taxes.  Since this is usually 5 years (as most landlords want the greatest deduction), carpet over 5 years old is worthless and you can't charge the tenant for it, no matter how good it looked before.  When was the carpet installed?  The tenant can be charged to fix badly patched holes.  But painting, again, depends on depreciation.  I don't expect paint to last in a rental more than 3 years.  So I charge based on that life span.  How long ago did you last paint?
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