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Posted 10/2/2012 by snowpea72 in NSBR Board


PeaNut 132,078
February 2004
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Posted: 10/2/2012 5:28:29 PM
We rented to someone I went to school with (mistake 1-I'd rather not know the people I rent to) and it was a very short term rent (5 mos). The tenant asked if she could paint the walls, we said that was fine. Our lease does state that permission needs to be given to make alterations to the premises. Well the kitchen cupboards (which were oak stained in a dark finish)were painted white (without permission), there are chips in the paint already. The tenant also replaced all the hardware but was not careful when putting the doors back on & they aren't fitting as perfectly as they were. When they left, they left all the curtains & rods because they wouldn't have any use for them.

So, would you return the sec. deposit knowing that you are going to have to refinish these cupboards in the near future even though they bought hardware, paint, window coverings?

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PeaNut 210,270
June 2005
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Posted: 10/2/2012 5:39:17 PM
Nope. If they didn't have permission to do some of those things in advance, you have every right to put them back they way they should be per the lease (I'm assuming you had a written lease, right?)

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PeaNut 221,236
August 2005
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Posted: 10/2/2012 5:39:47 PM
First, check the laws in your state regarding what is a legal reason to withhold a security deposit.

In my state, if it was a tenant I didn't know well, then no, I wouldn't return the security deposit. They broke the terms of the lease and it will cost you a substantial amount to rectify their poorly done repairs. Particularly with a short term lease (which I would never do, BTW). They haven't lived their long enough that you'd normally have to consider repainting/refinishing the cabinets with normal wear and tear, so that expense is on them. If they had been in the house 5 years rather than five months, I might feel differently. You expect some wear and tear in that amount of time.

You're in a stickier situation with a tenant you do know. Do you care about keeping the relationship friendly? If not, keep the security deposit. If so, you might point out the problems you see in what happened and ask what they think is a fair outcome. It may be that they offer for you to keep the deposit. If not, I guess I'd weigh the value of the friendship/acquaintance vs. what it will cost you to fix this mistake. If you end up giving the deposit back, consider it an expensive lesson learned. Never lease to friends/acquaintances and never a lease shorter than 12 months.

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PeaNut 242,768
January 2006
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Posted: 10/2/2012 5:42:15 PM
why in the hell would someone put that much effort into a short term lease? It would never even occur to me to change hardware or even paint the walls, much less cabinets, for a 5 month lease. heck no, I wouldn't be returning any security deposit because I'd have to fix everything they screwed up.

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PeaNut 133,429
February 2004
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Posted: 10/2/2012 6:21:06 PM
She had permission to paint the walls, not the cabinets.

So no, I wouldn't be refunding the security deposit.

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PeaNut 498,237
February 2011
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Posted: 10/2/2012 6:42:05 PM
No, I would NOT return the deposit.


PeaNut 393,905
October 2008
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Posted: 10/2/2012 6:43:57 PM
No, I wouldn't return the deposit.

YOu gave permission to paint walls, not cabinets. Fixing the cabinets is much more complicated than painting over a wall.

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PeaNut 215,522
July 2005
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Posted: 10/2/2012 7:16:39 PM
As a former property manager, she would not be getting her security deposit back for the reasons stated above. I also want to know who the heck goes through that kind of trouble for a 5 month lease?!


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PeaNut 359,731
January 2008
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Posted: 10/2/2012 8:50:17 PM
As long as the walls are a livable color and I was OK with it I'd let that part slide, you did give her permission and you didn't ask for her to repaint it before leaving(I'm taking a leap of faith here in assuming). If I were you, I'd deduct what it costs you to refinish the cabinets and rehang their doors. I'd only do it that way because she left you with window treatments you're obviously ok with.

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PeaNut 319,914
June 2007
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Posted: 10/2/2012 8:57:26 PM
Make sure you have pictures and invoices/receipts. Do a reconciliation itemizing all the damages.
As a property manager (commercial and residential) I agree...NEVER do a short term lease, unless you do an upcharge per month. Meaning if the rent is normally $700, you charge a premium for short term, like $740 per month.
She would not be getting her SD back and if her SD did not cover the damages, she'd get a bill.

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PeaNut 526,154
October 2011
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Posted: 10/2/2012 10:22:29 PM
Why do you need to refinish? Maybe they look better white. And you arent going to live there right?

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PeaNut 266,636
June 2006
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Posted: 10/2/2012 10:41:00 PM
As a former property manager the laws where I live would be to deduct the amount to put the cabinets back to original condition from the sd and refund the difference.

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PeaNut 96,783
July 2003
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Posted: 10/2/2012 10:59:39 PM
Painting "walls" does not include the kitchen cabinets. I'd tend to keep the deposit to cover having to repaint the cabinets to fix the chipped areas. Unless the window coverings left were equal in value to paint.

I had a tenant ask if she could paint the woodwork blue. I said no, I wanted it to remain white. When they moved out I had to make that blue woodwork white again. What part of "NO" didn't she understand?

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PeaNut 26,836
January 2002
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Posted: 10/3/2012 11:20:09 AM

why in the hell would someone put that much effort into a short term lease? It would never even occur to me to change hardware or even paint the walls, much less cabinets, for a 5 month lease.

That was my first thought, too.

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PeaNut 270,034
July 2006
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Posted: 10/3/2012 11:37:07 AM

Why do you need to refinish? Maybe they look better white. And you arent going to live there right?
Aside from the fact that she said the paint on the cabinets was already chipping, it doesn't matter if they look better white. The tenant was given permission to paint a specific thing and the cabinets weren't part of that. Most people would prefer to live in a house with wood cabinets, not white, so she could probably re-rent it easier if they hadn't been painted. Not to mention, now she has to rehang them.

OP, I would deduct the cost of refinishing the cabinets and rehanging the doors from her SD. If the cost is greater I'd bill her.

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PeaNut 220
April 1999
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Loc: Upstate NY

Posted: 10/3/2012 11:39:48 AM
Absolutely not. We have rented everywhere we have been stationed and usually get our SD back except for the last place.

Our 2yo dd found one of the black sharpies left by the movers and drew a smiley face on her wall while we were sleeping. UGH! We had to be out by 8am that morning so no time to paint.

The closet doors were folding type but because of the high plush carpet they were so difficult for the kids to open so we removed them and put them in the garage. I totally forgot about it. So I quickly grabbed them and put them in the closet and we left.

They charged us $65 per door to hang. O.o And $200 to repaint the room whole room. I didn't think it would cost that much to put the door back in the track but we did take it off so it's understandable. But to completely deface the cupboards and not expect to be charged. HA! Crazytown. As a landlord they would be charged the cost to fix them. If there was anything left they might get that but I have a feeling it's a costly repair.


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PeaNut 163,613
August 2004
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Posted: 10/3/2012 4:07:06 PM
Nope. Why would you return it? You have to refinish your cabinets. If the home was left in good condition with only the paint you had approved, then the deposit should be returned.
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PeaNut 295,424
February 2007
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Posted: 10/3/2012 5:04:54 PM
If you keep it, you better refinish those cabinets BEFORE you re-rent, I'm betting.

But I'd keep it, too.


PeaNut 514,615
July 2011
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Posted: 10/3/2012 5:14:02 PM
Every state has very specific guidelines on treatment of security deposits. Most allow you to withhold for damages - and unauthorized painting probably qualifies. But keep in mind you can only retain the actual amount of damages. Usually receipt for repair suffices; if you're forced to replace - you usually have to look at the current value when the damage occurred. So if these are ancient cupboards - you may be surprised at the current value. Again, each state is different.
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