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What Can Landlords Deduct from a Security Deposit | Columbus Property Management

Mitch Deminski - Friday, December 31, 2021

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The rental market in Columbus has seen a significant increase in recent years. According to and the 2020 American Community Survey census data, 55.3% of all Columbus housing units are rental homes, totaling just over 217,000 rental units. Investing in a Columbus rental property can therefore be a good deal. 

If you are planning to buy a unit for rent, or lease the existing one, you may have a few concerns as an owner. This article intends to educate a landlord/owner about what they can deduct from a security deposit. 

What is a Security Deposit? 

When a new tenant moves in, the landlord collects a security deposit from them. The rental deposit is an amount the landlord uses as security to cover any expenses that are caused by the tenant’s neglect or misconduct. 

When can you deduct an amount from the security deposit? 

Rental deductions

If the tenant fails to pay the rent on time, the landlord has the right to debit any past due rent or charges to the security deposit at the end of the lease. It is also essential on the landlord's part to remind the renter of the payment. If the tenant is having some genuine issues, the landlord can grant them some additional time as a good gesture.

If the lease was for a year and the tenant decides to leave before the end of the lease, the landlord can deduct the remaining rent from the security deposit and go after a tenant for the balance of the lease until the property is released.

Utility bill deductions from rent deposit

In Columbus, the owner is responsible for paying the water bill. As the water is utilized by the tenant and not the owner, the tenant is supposed to pay the owner for using water. If the renter refuses or fails to pay the owner for such utility service, the owner can deduct the amount from the security deposit.

Deductions for Misuse/ Damage

When it comes to damage, sometimes it becomes difficult to determine if the item has been damaged or it's a part of normal wear & tear. It is important to differentiate between the two because damages can be charged, unlike wear & tear.

Landlords and tenants often end up in court to settle this dispute. More often than not, the court sides with the tenants. If the property is occupied by a single tenant, the wear and tear will be less as compared to a family of 6 with 2 pets. Hence, as a landlord, you must be clear if something is damaged or has undergone a normal deterioration.

General indicators of damage.

  • Broken tiles in the bathroom 
  • Broken walls 
  • Clogged drains 
  • Excessive mold in the bathroom 
  • Dirt stains on the carpet because of pet 
  • Part of regular wear and tear: Furniture marks on the carpet 
  • Fading of curtains due to sunlight 
  • Fading of paint due to sunlight 
  • Dusty blinds/ curtains

However, the nature of certain types of damages is difficult to determine. For example, damage on the wall caused by the doorknob. If the tenant has the habit of slamming the door open, it will lead to dents on the wall.

As a landlord, you must take photos of all the damage your tenant has caused to the property as proof for the court. A move-out inspection will help you determine if the property is in the proper condition.

Property damageGiven the ambiguity of circumstances and the fuss that it can result in, you may consider hiring a professional property manager. Solutions for Real Estate can be your trusted real estate and property management partner for your investment property in Columbus, Ohio. In business since 2001, S4RE has been a leading independent brokerage in central Ohio for residential, commercial and property management. Contact us to discuss your real estate needs.