Can a landlord use a security deposit for normal maintenance if it is specifically stated in the lease?

UPDATED: Dec 28, 2011

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Can a landlord use a security deposit for normal maintenance if it is specifically stated in the lease?

On my lease it says they take an amount out for carpet cleaning, which they do after every tenant moves out, regardless of condition. They also state that a tenant is responsible if a “full repaint” is necessary with no mention of necessary causes of this repaint. When I questioned why it needed a full repaint, they said only that it was assessed as “not OK” and refused to provide any specific damages that would have caused a repaint. I lived there for 2 years and did not damage the walls in any way, so it sounds like normal maintenance. Can these amounts be recovered in small claims court?

Asked on December 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In some states, a state mandated/certified carpet cleaning is required. This is primarily to prevent the spread of certain rodents and critters. Normal wear and tear is expected but to require you to pay for a full repaint is absolutely absurd. This is why tenats should always demand a walk through with the landlord and bring a camera to take pictures and have the landlord sign off on the walk through. If your landlord gave you a break down of the costs from your security deposit, certain costs may be recoverable. If there some was some damage to the walls (think pin holes for nails and lines from wall hangings), it may be appropriate to charge you for some of the repaint but not the entire unit.

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