Can a landlord charge you for painting after you move out?


Credit: iStock.com/warrengoldswain

Whether you are in a new apartment and want to paint the walls or are moving out of a unit you painted and wondering how that will affect your security deposit, understand how paint and rental laws work. can seem a little overwhelming. Checking your lease for the rules regarding changes may give you some answers, but then encountering the words “wear and tear” may lead to additional questions.

So, can a homeowner charge for painting after you move? It depends. Here’s what you need to know about painting your unit, collecting your security deposit, and what “normal wear and tear” really means.

Give meaning to your security deposit

When signing your lease for the first time, you will need to pay a security deposit. Your landlord then keeps this fixed amount of money until the end of your lease in case you cause damage to the unit. Security deposits are usually equal to one month’s rent, but depending on the situation and where you live, you might end up paying more up front. While many states set limits for security deposits, other states do not cap security deposits at all.

If you take a look at your rental agreement, you will likely find the words “normal wear and tear” along with information about your deposit. No matter how much you pay, your security deposit is refundable … well, most of the time. There are some situations where your landlord can (quite legally) keep some or all of your security deposit. Some rental agreements will include stipulations on how your landlord can spend the security deposit. However, most homeowners just use a general statement about how your deposit covers damage “other than wear and tear.”

What is “normal wear and tear?”

Normal wear and tear refers to minor and unavoidable damage resulting from the regular use of a space. You can think of it as the natural deterioration that any unit undergoes just because people live there.

Here are some examples of normal wear:

  • Carpets wear out from regular use
  • Curtains that fade from exposure to the sun
  • Scuffs on hardwood from people stepping on it

However, wear and tear will not cover deterioration due to neglect, misuse, or general dirt. In other words, if someone rips those curtains or pokes a hole in your wall during a party, that damage doesn’t count as normal wear and tear. You are probably required to cover this damage with your security deposit.

Damage that almost always goes into a security deposit includes:

  • Broken appliances or appliances due to neglect, such as broken shelves or cracked tiles
  • Dirt such as excess mold or mildew in the shower or bath
  • Water stains on wood floors due to improper cleaning
  • Animal damage such as urine stains
  • Missing carbon monoxide or smoke detectors
  • Large holes in the walls or a large number of holes from hanging pictures, but only if these holes require the homeowner to repair and repaint the walls

Your landlord cannot use a security deposit to pay for basic cleaning. They can, however, deduct cleaning costs if you leave grime all over the bathroom, rotting food in your fridge, or garbage all over your apartment when you move out.

Can a landlord charge for painting after you move?

So does the paint count as normal wear and tear and can your landlord use your security deposit or charge you for the paint? If you painted the walls in your unit during your lease, your landlord may have the right to use your security deposit to repaint the walls.

Most homeowners won’t allow you to paint your home unless you agree to return the walls to their original color (or a neutral color) before you move out. Painting, in general, is a routine task that homeowners must perform, however. Homeowners typically need to repaint their property every few years for basic maintenance. Under normal circumstances, homeowners cannot deduct the cost of purchasing paint or hiring a painter from your deposit.

When should a tenant cover the cost of painting?

If you’ve painted the walls, the rules change a bit. If your landlord has given you permission to paint as long as you have agreed to return the walls to the original color or a neutral color, you can expect to receive your deposit as long as you do the necessary painting.

However, if you paint the walls without getting permission from your landlord, or if you do not bother to repaint the walls as per your agreement, your landlord may deduct from your deposit the cost of repainting the walls to their original color. origin. Likewise, if you stain the paint, your landlord can deduct the cost of the security deposit.

Who is responsible for painting a rental property?

In summary, you may need to repaint your rental property if you change the color of the walls during the lease. Even if you plan to restore the walls to their original color before moving, you should first seek permission from your landlord before embarking on your initial paint job. Your landlord has the right to use the security deposit to cover repainting costs if you paint without permission, paint the walls an unusual shade and do not repaint, or cause damage beyond normal wear and tear that require repainting.

Your landlord, meanwhile, must take care of repainting for general maintenance. If you’ve followed all of the terms of your lease and the walls just need to be refreshed after you move, your landlord shouldn’t charge you for this painting.

While there are some situations where your landlord can legally keep money on your security deposit or charge you for painting costs, you can avoid losing money by following the terms of your lease and asking for the permission before painting.