According to Texas law, a San Antonio landlord must return the tenant’s security deposit within 30 days of the tenant moving out. In those 30 days, you’ll be making decisions about whether the property is in the same condition that it was when you turned it over (minus the expected wear and tear) or whether there is tenant damage that will require you to make deductions from the security deposit.
How do you establish what constitutes wear and tear? When is it considered damage? These are common questions in San Antonio property management, and we want to help you understand the difference and treat the security deposit accordingly.
Identifying Wear and Tear in Your San Antonio Rental Property
Wear and tear is the general deterioration of property that happens over time due to regular use. This is the type of wear that would happen even if you were living in the home yourself. It’s not necessarily the tenant’s fault, it’s simply that the tenants happen to be using the home.
You cannot charge the tenant for repairs that address wear and tear. Examples might include small nail holes in the walls from where pictures, clocks, or mirrors were hung. Scuff marks on the walls or worn carpet from where furniture was placed would also be considered wear and tear. These things are expected when a property is lived in.
Identifying Tenant Damage in Your San Antonio Rental Property
Damage is anything that breaks or needs repairs due to your tenant’s abuse, misuse, or neglect. Your lease agreement should be clear about your expectation that the tenants will return the property to you in the same condition that it was in when they moved in.
Examples of tenant damage might be:
- Large and deep holes in the walls from where televisions may have been hung.
- Doors that have been ripped off their hinges.
- Broken mirrors.
- Scratched flooring, holes and large stains in carpet, and baseboards that have been scratched or chewed by pets.
Even if the damage is unintentional, it’s still the financial responsibility of your tenant. A small leak that the tenant never reported that turned into a flood may also be considered tenant damage, as long as you can prove that the tenant knew about the leak but never reported it to you.
Documenting Property Condition
It’s critical that you conduct a thorough move-in inspection before you hand the tenants their keys. This will allow you to document the condition of the home. After your tenants move out, you’ll do another inspection and take the same careful notes and the same thorough photographs as you did during the move-in inspection. Compare the two reports, and you’ll be able to see where there is damage and where there is simply evidence of wear and tear.
This will be especially important when you’re returning your tenant’s security deposit. If there’s a dispute, you’ll need to be able to show evidence. A picture can show the tenants why you charged their deposit. Make sure the evidence will show up in court, otherwise you can face huge penalties and fines.
Can You Charge the Deposit for Cleaning Fees?
Cleanliness is subjective. Everyone has different standards of what’s clean. According to Texas law, you can charge a tenant’s security deposit in order to have the property professionally cleaned when they move out. However, this must be disclosed in the lease agreement. Make sure you have language in there that notifies tenants of your right to charge this against their deposit.
If you have any questions about returning the security deposit, evaluating the damage, or managing your San Antonio tenants, please contact us at OmniKey Realty. We work with rental property owners in Dallas, Houston, and surrounding areas in Dallas County, Collin County, and Houston County.