Can my landlord charge me to have whole house professionally painted because I smoke?

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Can my landlord charge me to have whole house professionally painted because I smoke?

We had been renting from another individual but he passed. His son-in-law came over about a month ago, walked the house, and said that there was no damage. We have been renting from the new people for less than a month. When I told them that we were moving I was then told that due to the fact I smoke, my damage deposit would be used to have the entire inside of the house painted. If there was anything left he would send it to me. This was not mentioned in our month-to-month rental agreement. Is it legal?

Asked on March 24, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Indiana

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Ok, generally speaking a landlord can only apply a security deposit to repairs in an apartment that are beyond what is known as normal wear and tear.  What is normal wear and tear differs from state to state and person to person.  There is a generality that it must be a reasonableness standard.  Painting is not generally above and beyond normal wear and tear although some states do specifically state that it can be used for painting.  Indiana does not so state. Now, what you need to do is to "trigger" the statute for return of the security deposit, meaning that you must by Indiana law give your landlord your mailing address for return of your security and/or notice of their intent to apply it to the painting (which they have to do) IN WRITING.  So I would suggest that you send it by certified mail return receipt requested.  If he does not return it or advises otherwise you can take him to court for it and you are entitled to reasonable attorney's fees.  Take lots of pictures of the home upon vacating.  You need proof.  Good luck.


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