RentLife Property Management

Written by Mark Kallus, Owner & Broker

RentLife® Property Management

Houston’s Local Property Management Experts

Security Deposit

Security Deposits Wall and Paint

Security Deposits Wall and Paint

You had tenants, but now they’ve moved out. What can you charge them for any damage to the property? It’s not as straightforward as you might think, it’s not an exact science, and there are a few things to consider. In this article, we’ll specifically address wall damage and painting.

Normal wear and tear are the landlord’s responsibility. The question is, what is normal wear and tear for walls and paint?

Can tenants hang pictures or mount a TV without being charged for damage when they move out? Did negligence, misuse, or abuse cause the damage specifically, or did it happen through everyday living?

Minor scuff marks on walls are considered normal wear and tear. Most places think an average of two nail holes per wall to be normal wear and tear. If a room has four walls, then eight nail holes might be considered normal and something you would not charge a tenant to repair.

Larger holes like those needed to mount TVs are generally considered damaged and can be charged to tenants. Some landlords will have a wall mount already installed and provide for the tenants to use to avoid installing their own. Most tenants have TVs, but occasionally someone comes along who does not want a wall mount because they don’t have a TV and would be an eyesore. In this instance, you can remove the mount, but instead of permanently patching and painting the hole just for the next tenant to want the wall mount again, sometimes you can put a photo to hide it while the tenant without a TV lives at the property.

Okay, you’ve determined that you need to paint because of tenant damage. It would be best to consider how long the tenant lived in the property and how old the paint is. Some states spell out exactly how long paint is expected to last. For example, “the landlord is responsible for painting after two tenants or three years, whichever comes first.”

So, let’s say you have fresh paint and a tenant moves in for a year. Then, without painting in between, you got another tenant for another year, and they just moved out. Since the place was painted last, it’s been two tenants, so the landlord is responsible for painting. It doesn’t say the landlord is required to, but basically, the tenant’s deposit cannot be charged for painting if it’s needed. Or you have had a tenant for 5 years, and the paint was new when they moved in. It’s been 5 years, so you, as the landlord, are responsible for painting and not the tenant.

Some owners think that the tenant is living at the property, so “the tenants got the use of the paint, not me.” The landlord is getting used by leasing it to the tenant for a fee (rent), so even though the owner is not living in the home and enjoying the paint, they are getting used to renting it out.

When you charge tenants for damage, you should remember that it should be prorated. The length of time that you were expected but were unable to get used out of something is the percentage they should be charged.

Let’s say paint is expected (estimated useful life) to last 3 years, and you have a tenant that moves out, and the place needs a new paint job, and it’s only been two years. You had one year of remaining useful life left that you didn’t get because of the tenant. You must divide the remaining useful life into the expected useful life, which is the percentage that the tenant gets charged. In this example, the tenant should only be charged for a third of the cost of new paint. Say the price is $1500, then the tenant charge would be $500, which is a third of the total cost.

The difference between normal wear and tear versus damage is significant. Often Landlords overcharge for damage because they don’t understand how remaining useful life gets factored into what the tenant owes. Many landlords get sued because they overcharge their tenants.

If you are looking for a Spring Property Management Company~ we are the one you want! RentLife® Property Management CRMC® is the best choice for property management in Cypress, TX. We also offer rentals and property management in Humble, Katy, Richmond, Spring, The Woodlands, Tomball, Conroe, Houston, Magnolia, and other surrounding areas. Contact us today at or 832-562-3600.