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Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

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Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby FlamingCheetos187 » Sat Jan 09, 2021 3:41 am

Hi - my landlord is withholding my security deposit for liquid damage to hardwood floors which I concede is there and I was ready to pay for (the wood is discolored badly). However, the damage is contained to one spot, but they are trying to charge me for finishing and fixing the whole hardwood floor because according to them wood contractors only patch entire floors. Is this normal practice? Can I be charged for them redoing the entire floor when only a relatively small part of the wood is damaged? I was there for several years and thought would get some leniency for normal wear and tear but am getting wringed out by them for all kinds of charges, but this is the one that concerns me the most.. Appreciate any help or insight anyone can provide, I am very worried.
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Re: Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby TenantNet » Sat Jan 09, 2021 5:15 am

Well, it depends. Of all things, floors have wear and tear and that's expected. Some water marks can easily be cleaned (Google watermarks on wood). Did you do it or was this something that existed prior to you moving in? What is considered "discolored badly" is subjective.

It's not unusual for LLs to refinish floors between tenants and they might have planned for that anyway. Can you find out if they have done that in other empty units between tenancies?

As for cleaning a spot or the entire floor, I don't know. It might also depend if it's an old wood floor in a walk-up tenement or a new floor in a luxury building that is a selling point.

Look, LL's invent fake damages all the time; we know some tenants withhold the last month's rent to get back their deposit so this kind of crap doesn't happen. Having said that, tenants should cover the cost of actual damages beyond normal wear and tear.

If you can't reach an agreement, you can always take them to Small Claims Court or go to the NY Attorney General.

You might also get quotes from other firms that do this.
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Re: Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby 10ants » Wed Jan 20, 2021 10:23 am

FlamingCheetos187 wrote: However, the damage is contained to one spot, but they are trying to charge me for finishing and fixing the whole hardwood floor because according to them wood contractors only patch entire floors. Is this normal practice? Can I be charged for them redoing the entire floor when only a relatively small part of the wood is damaged? I was there for several years and thought would get some leniency for normal wear and tear but am getting wringed out by them for all kinds of charges, but this is the one that concerns me the most.. Appreciate any help or insight anyone can provide, I am very worried.



It is usually cheaper to sand, stain, and refinish the whole floor to an even color and sheen than to try and sand one area, stain it to match, and refinish it to match the original color. If you try the latter, you'll often have a 'divot' in the floor, and good luck figuring out how to match the stain color (which may have darkened over time) and the finish, which may no longer be available. Chances are if you tried that, it would look awful -- far worse than 'normal wear and tear'.

Also depends how big the the water damage is -- a 1" x 1" spot probably doesn't justify redoing a huge floor, but a patched large spot would be an eyesore.

It is sort of like how auto body shops will only repaint entire panels, not just a dent.
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Re: Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby TenantNet » Wed Jan 20, 2021 1:37 pm

But 10ants, the question isn't what's easiest for the LL to do, but tenant liability, if any. The OP doesn't tell us the size of the stain, only that it is a small spot.

In my experience, liquid damage can be corrected without resanding the entire floor, but of course it depends and we haven't seen it. And several years back my LL did have to replace a damaged part of the floor (was not liquid). They replaced the damaged area quite easily.
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Re: Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby 10ants » Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:39 pm

TenantNet wrote:But 10ants, the question isn't what's easiest for the LL to do, but tenant liability, if any. The OP doesn't tell us the size of the stain, only that it is a small spot.

In my experience, liquid damage can be corrected without resanding the entire floor, but of course it depends and we haven't seen it. And several years back my LL did have to replace a damaged part of the floor (was not liquid). They replaced the damaged area quite easily.


Curious how they did that, and what kind of floor you have. My LL was a bit grumpy because the parquet floor only had about one sanding left in it, and would split easily.
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Re: Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby FlamingCheetos187 » Wed Jan 20, 2021 5:44 pm

Hi thank you for the replies. It is a definitely a sizable spot, about a foot maybe more. I think it will definitely need to be replaced. I was fully mentally prepared to pay for it, but just don't want to be liable for the entire flooring. I'm considering filing an AG complaint because the landlord still hasn't gotten back to me on what all the costs are, just a bunch of emails from a while ago when I asked for my deposit back complaining about various things (which I don't agree with).

When I was doing my research, I saw there was a new law passed requiring the landlord to provide an itemized statement of damages within 14 days or they forfeit the right to retain ANY part of the deposit, but I'm not sure it's actually being enforced this strongly? They did complain but I never received any itemized list (although I explicitly asked for one) and haven't heard from them since.
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Re: Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby TenantNet » Wed Jan 20, 2021 8:39 pm

Being a foot in size does not indicate the best or cheapest possible solution. Remember, it's a question of your liability. It also depends on how it happened. Hopefully you will have documented the condition before and after.

Have you gotten your own estimate?

According to the Lebovits document (see page 44), LL has 14 days from tenant's vacatur to return deposit and/or an itemized list of damages. If not, LL forfeits any right to retain deposit.

Of course to enforce that, you will have to go to court of file with the AG's office.
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Re: Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby JerryRonnalds » Tue Jan 26, 2021 11:47 am

There was a similar situation, but I managed to negotiate with the landlord, but later because of this situation, he terminated the contract with me.Did he have the right to do this if I paid for everything?
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Re: Security Deposit Question - Damage to Wood

Postby TenantNet » Tue Jan 26, 2021 1:57 pm

It depends. Is this a regulated unit? What kind? What did the lease say?
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