The landlord may deduct three types of charges from the security deposit: unpaid, past-due rent, costs to repair damages above normal wear and tear, and costs to clean the property.
Past-Due Rent: The landlord can ONLY deduct rent that is past due and remains unpaid when the tenant VACATES the property. The landlord CANNOT use the deposit as the last month’s rent, and the tenant cannot ask the landlord to do so.
Repairs: The landlord can deduct the costs of repairs for damages above normal wear and tear. Normal wear and tear is the gradual wearing-out of the property as it is used respectfully and responsibly by the tenant. Generally, normal wear and tear includes damages like wear patterns in the carpet or flooring of high-traffic areas, the gradual fading of paint, and similar damages. Generally, normal wear and tear does not include damages like stains or burns in carpet or flooring, scratches, holes, or stains on walls, and damages from misuse of the property. It can be difficult to determine whether certain damages are normal wear and tear or not. Detailed documentation about the condition of the property when the tenant moved in is very helpful in these situations.
Cleaning: The landlord can deduct the costs of cleaning the property to the condition in which the tenant received it. Detailed documentation is critical for demonstrating the condition of the property when the tenant took possession. Most leases put the responsibility for creating this documentation on the tenant – in the lease the tenant agrees that the property is in as clean a condition as is reasonably possible, unless the tenant notes otherwise in writing.