What damages can I hold a former tenant responsible for and deduct from their deposit?

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What damages can I hold a former tenant responsible for and deduct from their deposit?

I have a tenant who moved out 2 days ago. Today he sent me long email that he is not responsible for carpet stains, lawn weeds and broken fence slat. According to my lease agreement, I had put my house on market 1 month prior to the tenant moving out. Now the tenant is claiming that the carpet spots were because of the “strangers” coming into the house and he should not be held liable for that. Also, he says that he mowed lawn and watered it and should not be held responsible if there is weed in it. The lawn is in really bad shape now and was weedfree when he moved in. We also have a broken fense slat that he says since it faces a public alley that he is not responsible for it.

Asked on May 2, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Texas

Answers:

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

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

The landlord may not retain any portion of a security deposit to  cover normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear is defined as deterioration that  results from  the intended use of a dwelling, not including deterioration that results from  negligence, carelessness, accident, or abuse of the premises, equipment, or  chattels by the tenant, a member of the tenant's household, or a tenant's  guest or invitee. Now, you have to return the security with in 30 days of written statement as to the forwarding address.  If you choose to deduct then provide a written description and itemization.  Was maintaining the lawn part of the lease?  Was the slat broken from your side of the fence?  You need to determine from your lease and the law what you can deduct and make sure you can prove it in court.  Good luck. 


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