To Paint or Not to Paint: Wall Damage and Your Security Deposit

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To Paint or Not to Paint: Wall Damage and Your Security Deposit

Staff Writer · Oct 29, 2010

Wall damage in your apartment is almost inevitable. While most landlords expect some damage to an apartment’s walls, even the smallest of scratches could be charged against your security deposit, meaning that you might not receive a full refund or any refund at all. Prior to attempting to fix and repaint the walls that have suffered damage, you should consider the following issues.

Effectiveness of Painting

While painting may make a wall look better, it will not fix dents, scratches or holes in walls. Painting a wall prior to fixing the damage, therefore, is pointless. Instead, you must first fix scratches and holes either by sanding or filling the holes with spackling paste. Only after these scratches and holes have been fixed and the materials used for their repairs have dried can you consider painting the walls.

Lease Prohibitions

Some apartments prohibit tenants from painting the walls or woodwork in their apartment. This is to prevent the possibility of the tenants ruining the walls or putting a color on the walls that will require lots of white paint to cover. Prior to fixing, painting or doing any other repair work to your apartment walls, check your lease to make sure you are permitted to do so. If you are not allowed to paint or fix the apartment in any way, you may be charged an extra fee if you do so and the apartment must change your work.

Matching Paint

Believe it or not, but not all shades of white are equal. Every paint manufacturer and distributor uses different formulas and names to identify the various shades between the brightest of whites and most yellow of ivories. Mismatched whites are extremely obvious and require that the entire wall be repainted again with the matching color. Because of this, it is important that, if you decide to repaint your apartment’s walls prior to vacating the apartment, you ask your landlord for the information on the paint used so that you do not repaint the walls the wrong color.

Expenses of Repainting

Even if you are permitted to paint your apartment’s walls, you may still be subject to a fee for having done so. Regardless of whether or not you use the proper paint color, the quality of your paint job may not be up to the landlord’s standards or, for safety reasons they may be legally required to paint the walls prior to leasing to a new tenant. Prior to beginning any work or purchasing any materials, ask your landlord about the possibility of your incurring a fee for having repainted the walls.

Throwing Caution to the Wind

Despite all the potential problems or prohibitions against your painting your apartment, you might still want to do so anyways. The fact is that if you are careful and do your best to make the walls look the appropriate color the landlord might not notice that you have done any work at all, but rather believe that the walls experienced no damage during your occupancy. Therefore, it may be the best bet to paint and hope for the best!

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