How to Easily Calculate Fair Rates for Tenant Damages

Author Ella Bos

Posted Apr 7, 2023

Reads 8.4K

Remaining walls of ruined abandoned building

As a landlord, determining damage to your rental unit can be a tricky process, particularly when it comes to tenant damages. While normal wear and tear is expected, you still want to make sure that any damages caused by the tenants are fixed promptly and at a reasonable charge. This is why understanding how to calculate reasonable charges for tenant damages is an essential skill for any landlord.

Before charging your tenants for any damages, you need to create an itemized list of all the repairs needed. This repair list should include everything from standard cleaning tasks to contractor estimates for more serious damage. Once this list has been created, you can then deduct the money required from the security deposit left by the tenant at move-in. However, if the tenant refuses to accept responsibility for the damages or there isn't enough money in their security deposit, you may need to consider taking them to small claims court.

In this article, we'll explore frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding fair rates for tenant damages and give you all the information needed to confidently charge your tenants without causing conflict or confusion. By understanding your rights as a landlord and knowing what reasonable charges are expected for certain types of tenant damages, you'll be able to keep your rental unit in top shape while maintaining a positive relationship with your tenants.

Inspect the Unit Before Tenants Move In

Road in modern city street with lights through car window in rainy weather

One of the crucial factors involved in charging tenants for damages is inspecting the rental property before the tenant moves in. This move-in inspection documents the condition of the property including any existing issues. By ensuring that the property is in good condition before the tenant takes possession, you can avoid disputes over damages when the tenant moves out. So, make sure to do a thorough inspection and document everything before your new tenant moves into their new home.

1. Note

Note: It's important for landlords to charge reasonable fees for damages caused by tenants. To do so, they should use a move-in inspection checklist stating the condition of the property before a tenant moves in. This will help prevent disputes and ensure that all parties are held accountable for any damages incurred during the tenancy.

Discovering Tenant Damage: A Guide for Landlords

As a landlord, discovering tenant damage can be disheartening and frustrating. However, it's important to handle the situation calmly and professionally. When a tenant vacates, landlords should conduct a comprehensive move-out inspection within 48 hours of their departure.

Man in Brown Jacket and Black Pants Holding Water Bottle

This move-out inspection should include an inspection checklist, which outlines the property's condition before and after the tenant's stay. It's crucial that landlords check each item off the list and provide documentation of any damages discovered. This comprehensive record will come in handy if there is ever a dispute about charges for tenant damage.

When determining reasonable charges for tenant damages, landlords must consider several factors such as how long the unit aged and how much wear and tear is expected over time. If tenant caused requires repair or replacement, landlords must set a window for when these repairs will be completed. All ending checklists should include photos of any damage discovered during the inspection process to ensure transparency between both parties.

You Can't Charge for Normal Wear and Tear

You Can't Charge for Normal Wear and Tear: When it comes to charging tenants for damages, it's important to understand what constitutes as normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear occurs over time and is the result of regular use of the property, such as scuff marks on walls or worn carpets. Landlords cannot charge tenants for these types of damages, but they can charge tenants for damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear, such as holes in walls or stains on carpets. It's important to document any damage caused by tenants and communicate with them about what charges they may incur.

1. Examples of Wear and Tear vs. Damage

It's important to differentiate between wear and tear versus damages when it comes to charging tenants for repairs. Examples of wear and tear include a loose doorknob or a cabinet door that won't fully close due to normal use. On the other hand, damages would include broken tiles or large holes in the wall caused by negligence or misuse. Understanding the difference between these two types of issues can save both landlords and tenants from unnecessary conflicts and expenses.

Give an Itemized List of the Damage You Charged For

In order to charge a tenant for damages, it's important to provide them with an itemized list of the charges. This list should detail exactly what was damaged and how much it will cost to fix or replace. It's also important to include any relevant receipts or invoices in order to support your claims.


If deductions are being made from the security deposit amount owed back to the tenant, you must provide them with a written notice explaining why and what charges were incurred. If there are any disputes over the charges, both parties can try to come up with good-faith estimates and negotiate a fair settlement. In summary, providing an itemized list and supporting documentation is crucial in ensuring transparency and fairness when charging tenants for damages.

Tips on Recording the State of Your Rental Property

Recording the state of your rental property is an important task that every landlord should take seriously. This not only helps you identify areas that require repairs but also serves as evidence in case there is any property damage caused by tenants. To start, create a written record of your rental property's condition before a tenant moves in. This will act as a reference point for future inspections.

House Lights Turned on

When filling out a rental property walk-through checklist, present yourself and invite the tenant to join you. Take note of any damages or issues that need attention and make sure to document everything with relevant documents such as photographs or videos. Keep this information in a safe place where you can easily locate it when you need it.

Before the tenant moves out, conduct another walk-through checklist using the previous inspection report as a guide. Identify any new damages or changes and compare them to the previous inspection report. With this written record, you're ready to make necessary repairs and charge reasonable fees for tenant damages without facing disputes from tenants or legal battles in court.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a landlord charge tenants for property damage?

Yes, a landlord can charge tenants for property damage caused during their tenancy. However, the landlord cannot charge for normal wear and tear. It is important for both parties to thoroughly document any damages and agree on a fair cost for repairs.

What to do if tenant damages are not normal wear and tear?

If a tenant damages your property beyond normal wear and tear, you can deduct the cost of repairs from their security deposit. If the damage exceeds the deposit, you may need to pursue legal action to recover the remaining costs. It's important to document all damage with photos and written documentation.

How much can a landlord charge a tenant for property damage?

A landlord can charge a tenant for property damage up to the amount of their security deposit. If the cost of repairs exceeds the security deposit, the landlord may have to take legal action to recover the additional costs.

Can a landlord charge more than the security deposit?

Yes, a landlord can charge more than the security deposit in the form of first and last month's rent or additional fees for pets or utilities. It is important to review your lease agreement and know your state laws regarding rent and fees.

Can a landlord deduct wear and tear from a security deposit?

Yes, landlords can deduct for damages caused by tenants, but they cannot deduct for normal wear and tear.

Ella Bos

Ella Bos

Writer at CGAA

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Ella Bos is an experienced freelance article author who has written for a variety of publications on topics ranging from business to lifestyle. She loves researching and learning new things, especially when they are related to her writing. Her most notable works have been featured in Forbes Magazine and The Huffington Post.

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