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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 37337
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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I have a 3bedroom unit in San Francisco in which a tenant

Customer Question

I have a 3bedroom unit in San Francisco in which a tenant occupied for approximately 3 years. They recently moved out and I discovered they painter many of the interior walls different colors. I have photos of the time I purchased the unit showing the original wall colors were beige. I was never informed of the fact they painted the walls colors I wouldn't have approved of. Now, I'll have to hire a painting crew to come and paint the walls back to the original colors. I want to make sure I can subtract the cost of this from their security deposit....
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply,but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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Can you tell me how long ago they moved out?

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Did they ever ask for permission to paint?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They just moved out at the end of May
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No they never asked permission
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, then if they never asked for and received permission, then repainting the walls is considered "damage" to the property and you can charge them the depreciated cost having it repainted. The courts typically apply a 5 year depreciation schedule to paint so if they were there for 3 years and it was freshly painted before they moved in, you can charge them 40% of the cost of repainting. You could try and charge them a larger amount, but if they challenged it in court, they would likely win.

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Just make sure that you send them an itemized invoice with the costs within 21 days of them moving out as required by CA law.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I've been told by another attorney that because they painted the walls colors I didn't approve of that it isn't considered a wear and tear issue....
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
They painted the walls green and blue
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

It is considered "damage" but the original paint is at least 3 years old.. As I said, you can try and charge them the full cost of repainting, but if they challenge it, I think a judge would only allow you the depreciated cost...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
In my case the tenants painted the same walls more than once over the three years they lived there. For example, after they moved in they painted the living room orange.....and a year or so after they painted it blue. In this case, is depreciation schedule on a rolling clock from the second time they painted or can they paint the walls as many times as they want and the depreciation schedule remains at three years?
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

It depends on when you painted last, not how many times they painted.. So assuming it was brand new fresh paint when they moved in, that starts the depreciation clock.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The same tenants moved out without cleaning the unit. The natural wood drawers have dark (blackened) areas from dirty hands around the handles. What happens if a cleaning crew cannot get these stains out of the wood and I have to have the wood sanded/refinished?
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Cleaning costs are deductible from the deposit as well. If they can't be removed and have to be sanded and refinished, that would be considered damages that were deductible from the deposit as well as long as you have documentation that they couldn't be cleaned and had to be refinished.

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thanks

Barrister

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