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Property Management Blog

Tenant’s Security Deposits – Wear/Tear, Depreciation, and Legal Disputes

Michele Odems - Monday, July 24, 2017

Last week, a landlord who decided not to renew her lease so that she could sell the home, came into our office and said “There are scuffs on many walls in the home, please turn over the previous tenant’s entire security deposit to address those damages.”


As a licensed Real Estate brokerage, and per the Virginia Residential Landlord Tenant Act, we must prepare a SODA – Statement of Deposit Account - and provide a detailed accounting of the security deposit charges to the tenants within 45 days of their lease end date. Tenants are allowed to leave normal wear and tear, which does include some scuffs. If tenants cause damage above normal wear and tear, such as stains, major scuffing, dents, gauges, scratches or excessive dirt/grime then their security deposit will be charged.


When a security deposit is charged, some charges may be done on a depreciated basis per guidance from local judges. For instance, carpet damage is charged based on a 6-year depreciation period and painting is charged based on a 4-year depreciation period. This is dictated by guidance from local judges that landlords should expect to paint a rental property every 4 years and replace carpet every 6 years. (Note these time periods have been adjusted upwards recently with new judges in Prince William County Landlord Tenant Court.)


Landlords have often asked us to disregard the depreciation factor and charge tenants the full cost of required paint and carpet repairs. While we can make damage assessments based on the specific direction of the landlords, we caution against any action that is outside of legal guidance. If a tenant disputes a charge within the legal system, a property manager is not able to represent the landlord in the lawsuit and an attorney would be needed. Legal representation for such disputes usually starts in the $1500 range, so it is wise to adhere to legal guidance rather than to take any action that might trigger a tenant dispute.

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