How far can a landlord go in assessingdamages and necessary repairs?

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How far can a landlord go in assessingdamages and necessary repairs?

When I moved out of my house, the landlord inspected and noted a few cases where screws had been left in the wall or screw holes had not been filled (we’re talking about 12 total in a 4 bedroom single family home). I was expecting the repair to be filling, preparing/sanding and touching-up the area. He is now claiming that he has had to paint the whole wall, or even the whole room as a direct result of such damages. This does not seem reasonable or even legal to me. I would like to know whether he is entitled to take such a position?

Asked on June 8, 2011 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The landlord may seek compensation (including from the security deposit) for the actual cost to repair any conditions or damage caused by tenant, tenant's family, or tenant's guests. The landlord may not voluntarily choose to go beyond what is required to make or perform the repair. So if the screws or their holes could be fixed by a bit of spackle, sanding, and paint, it would seem that the landlord could only recover for the materials cost and, if he hired a handyman or painter to it, the reasonable cost of that work. Only if the conditions effectively required repaining the whole room (e.g. widespread minor damage, so it's more reasonable to repaint everything than to many patch-ups) would the landlord seem to have grounds for widespread repainting. All that said, depending on what he's trying to charge you, since you'd have to pay *something* anyway, it may not be economically worthwhile fighting; or at least, you need to consider it from that perspective, as well as from the legal one.


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