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When Can a Landlord Keep a Security Deposit?

Most professionals working in property management in Philadelphia will require new tenants to provide a security deposit when they move into a new space. A security deposit is like a “hold” to ensure that the tenant does not cause damage to the space while they are living in it. But just how much damage to the property is required to justify the keeping of a security deposit when a tenant moves out? The answer to this question lies in the difference between the definitions of “normal wear and tear” and “damage.”

“Normal wear and tear” is a common phrase that you will hear as a landlord or when working with a property manager in West Philadelphia. Basically, as a property owner who is renting out your space, you are expected to accept that your home will show a small amount of deterioration in the condition of your house or unit simply as a consequence of everyday use. These types of issues are not eligible to be covered by a security deposit because they are considered to be natural consequences of standard living within the space. Some examples of normal wear and tear include:

  • Small stains on carpeting
  • Scuffing of paint
  • A patch of colored carpeting fading due to sunlight
  • Minor scrapes on hardwood flooring
  • Dirt or dust accumulation in bathrooms

While neither the tenant nor the landlord is responsible for issues of normal wear and tear, tenants can be held liable for damage to the unit. “Damage” to a rental unit is considered to be not naturally occurring and lowers the value of the property. Damage can occur either on purpose or accidentally, but never occurs as a consequence of normal activities, as is the case with wear and tear. Some examples of damage to a rental property include:

  • The presence of a hole smashed in the wall
  • A cracked bathroom mirror
  • A carpet that is stained with pet urine (especially if the pet was held in the unit against the terms of the lease)
  • Missing fixtures like locks or door handles

Disputes are common between landlords and tenants when it comes to security deposits. If you own a rental property, get the professionals at DJCRE on your side for when your tenants move out. Give us a call today at 215-720-1097 to learn more!


Posted by: djcrepropertymanagement on July 5, 2018
Posted in: Uncategorized