3 Categories Of Damage Exceptions That Cannot Be Deducted From Security Deposit

By on May 29, 2018

The security deposit is something that can give landlords a lot of peace of mind when dealing with tenants.

However, it should not be taken for granted as if you have the freedom to charge anything you want towards it.

Damages and required repairs are often the most common items deducted from the security deposit.

But there are exceptions to certain expenses that cannot be charged to the deposit.

1) Wear and tear

One of the things that are certain in life is wear and tear.

Paint on the wall will eventually peel, carpets will inevitably wear off after years of stepping on, and wooden cabinets will succumb to the effects of the environment, etc.

Expenses incurred to replace items due to wear and tear cannot be a liability of the tenant.

This is even so when a carpet is newly bought when a specific tenant initially moved in. And after inhabiting the house for a number of years, the carpet turns into a condition needing replacement.

However, do train yourself to spot the difference between damages caused by tenants and those of nature.

Repairs or replacement of household fixtures and items due to wear and tear is ultimately the responsibility of the landlord… unless a tenant is foolish enough to take on the expenses as stated in the tenancy agreement.

Yet, if a landlord does include these responsibilities into a contract, it would be tough for tenants to accept it.

2) Breakdown of household appliances

It’s only a matter of time before electrical appliances.

In fact, planned obsolescence is a well discussed topic about manufacturers fabricating appliances meant to last for a certain period of time.

Once this period expires, which is coincidentally after the warranty period, the product can breakdown at any time.

Whether there is any truth in this is another matter by itself.

The point is that when the refrigerator you have provided for the tenant breaks down, it is your responsibility to replace it unless there is evidence that the breakdown is caused by damage inflicted by the tenant.

By the same line of thought, if there is no air-conditioning in your rental property and you have only provided evaporative air coolers, you cannot force tenants to pay for it when it breaks down due to it reaching the end of it’s usable lifespan.

3) System problems

Some of the critical systems in the house include:

  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical wiring
  • etc

As with household appliances, these systems will eventually encounter operational issues from time to time.

These can also be small problems like wiring to lighting stopped working, low water pressure, or leaking air-conditioner unit.

Unless flaws to these systems were caused by tampering on the part of the tenant, landlords usually have to suck it up and pay for repairs and maintenance themselves.

Remember that the security deposit is not a petty cash box for you to reach for whenever there are repair and maintenance expenses to pay for.

The money legally belongs to the tenant. And any deduction off the balance has to be written and agreed upon from the commencement of the landlord-tenant relationship.



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