A landlord may claim damages to the rent unit by the tenant against the security deposit. Security deposits and the notice requirements are governed by Chapter 83.49, Florida Statutes Generally, the landlord must make a written claim by certified mail within 30 days of the date the tenant surrenders possession of the leased premises. Click here for the claim form
The landlord may deduct for any damage done by the tenant that exceeds ordinary wear and tear in light of the length of time tenant was in possession. For example, where a tenant in possession for 15 years, the landlord’s claim for replacement of carpeting and worn linoleum floor was denied. Fishbein v. Oslander, 2013. Conn. Super. Lexis 2297 (Conn. Super. New Haven 2013).
Ordinary wear and tear: The landlord may not charge for ordinary cleaning or repainting unless specified in the lease.
Routine repainting: Bronxville Props. Inc v. Luyo, 37 Misc 3d, 1214A (Justice Court Westchester County 2012); BURLEY v. MATEO, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 624a.
Routine pressure washing of driveway / patio: BURLEY v. MATEO, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 624a.
Carpet shampooing: Love v. monarch Apts., 771 P.2d 79 (Kan 1989)
Rust and grease on stove: Cuccurullo v. Scott, 2011 N.J. Super. Unpub LEXIS 2665 (Super. Ct. N.J. App. Div. 2011)., Bronxville Props. Inc v. Luyo, 37 Misc 3d, 1214A (Justice Court Westchester County 2012)
Rust around sink: Bronxville Props. Inc v. Luyo, 37 Misc 3d, 1214A (Justice Court Westchester County 2012)
Pin holes in walls: Cuccurullo v. Scott, 2011 N.J. Super. Unpub LEXIS 2665 (Super. Ct. N.J. App. Div. 2011)
Burst pipe (not caused by tenant): Miro v. Garner, 52 S.W. 3d 407 (Tex. App. Corpus Christi 2001)
Not ordinary wear and tear. Broken, stolen, or deliberately damaged items are not considered ordinary and are chargable.
Failure to return keys: Smith V. Niederriter, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 1051a.
Missing drapes: Smith V. Niederriter, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 1051a.
Graffiti: Smith V. Niederriter, 18 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 1051a.
Replace carpet soak in honey from tenant’s beekeeping: Oak Hill Inv Co. v. Jablonski, 605 N.E. 2d 998 (Ohio App . 1995)
Remove abandoned motorcycle. Allowed removal fee, but not storage fee. Berlinger v. Suburban Apt. Mgt. Co., 454 N.E.2d 1367 (Ohio App. 1982)
Removal of authorized improvements / Failure to remove unauthorized improvements: OLDHAM INVESTMENTS, LTD., , vs. LIEBER . Palm Beach County, April 18, 2008. 15 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 733a
The lease may also specify items to be chargeable. BERGREN v. WYATT, Hillsborough County. 2004. Marva L. Crenshaw, Judge. 11 Fla. L. Weekly Supp. 407a
The landlord has the initial burden to prove the damage. Then the burden shifts to the tenant to prove that the damage was pre-existing. The evidence should be of damage after the tenant moved out. One court rejected photos of damage because they were taken before the tenant moved out. Wyant v. Catlin, 972 N.Y.S. 2d 147 (Justice Ct. Red Hook, 2013).
The landlord may also provide in the lease that certain deposits are non-refundable, such as redecorating fees, or pet fees. If the lease does not provide the fees are non-refundable, the landlord will have to prove actual damages. The court denied the claim of a landlord for the cost of replacing the carpeting because the tenant had smoked in violation of the lease where not only did the landlord not replace the carpet, but did not even clean the carpet. Vinson v. Henley, 864 So.2d 894 (La. App. 2d Cir. 2004). Likewise, where a landlord charged to replace a lock the tenant has installed that did not match the other units, the court rejected the claim when it turned out the landlord had not actually replaced the lock. Adamsky v. Picknick, 603 A.2d 1069 (Pa. Super Ct. 1992). The landlord should not charge for expenses not actually incurred. Receipts for expenses paid will seldom be rejected by a court, as opposed to estimates for work not yet performed. Remember to use move-in check lists for the tenant to indicate any pre-existing damage at the start of the lease. Take photographs of all damage at the end of the lease.