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Sam, Attorney at Law
Category: CA Real Estate
Satisfied Customers: 27011
Experience:  More than 20 years of experience practicing law.
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My question pertains to owner rights regarding security

Customer Question

My question pertains to owner rights regarding security deposits in San Francisco. I own a unit which was rented out to the same tenant over the last three years. The tenant moved out and there's a considerable amount of repairs needed to restore the unit back to the condition it was in prior to them moving in. There's many holes they put in the walls to hang picture frames that need patching, and they painted the walls several different colors during their tenancy. I will have to hire a professional painter to patch and paint the entire unit which will far exceed the security deposit given by the tenant. The unit was also left a complete mess which I'll have to pay a cleaning service to clean the entire unit and remove stains in the wood cabinetry etc. I just want to make sure I as the owner have the right to deduct these repair costs from their security deposit. In general, what expenses does an owner have the right to deduct from a tenant's security deposit?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: CA Real Estate
Expert:  Sam replied 1 year ago.


​This Samuel. A landlord may deduct the cost of fixing any damages to the property caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests. This does not include ordinary wear and tear. Wear and Tear would mean if you had to paint after 3 years but not because the colors are "offensive" or were not approved by you before it was painted. I suggest you take photos of the walls in case the tenant files a lawsuit. You can show the judge what was done, without approval and that it was not just normal wear and tear.

You also can deduct for any cleaning of the unit, if there is cleaning that needs to be done again beyond normal wear and tear. For instance if there are huge stains on the carpet or they never cleaned the bathrooms, etc - again take photos.

Expert:  Sam replied 1 year ago.

​Please let me know if you have other questions in this regard. Otherwise a positive rating ensures I get credit for my time and information provided. Thank you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
to be clear, I didn't approve of the colors the tenants used and will have to hire a contractor to restore the rooms back to the colors they were when the tenants first moved in....I have a right to deduct this from their security deposit?
Expert:  Sam replied 1 year ago.

Yes. It is not considered "normal" wear and tear. Fingerprints on a wall is normal wear and tear.