What Two Property Managers Wish You Knew About Putting Holes in Walls

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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

To repair or not to repair — that is (often) the question when it comes to moving out from your apartment. While you may assume that spackle is as expected as cardboard boxes in this process, some properties actually ask that you don’t repair holes in the walls before you move out because it’s easier for the property manager to just hire a professional to do the repairs. So where does that leave you?

When it comes to getting your security deposit back, property managers recommend that apartment dwellers consider these factors when deciding how to handle patching up walls and other common related repairs before moving out. Read on for the three most common tips to remember before you hand over your keys. 

Take good care of your home throughout your lease. 

Prevention is the most important factor when it comes to handling repairs prior to moving out, says Karen Kostiw of Coldwell Banker Warburg in Manhattan. If you’re thinking of hanging heavy objects such as a large TV, or you’re interested in adding a fun print wallpaper to a room, utilizing proper tools and equipment can help prevent serious damage from happening in the first place. 

“Several renters on properties I manage have destroyed the walls, cabinetry, and doors with excessive nail holes and wallpaper,” she explained. “Even though the landlord kept the security deposit, it did not cover the wake of abuse left by the tenants who did not care for the property.”

Depending on the size and scope of the job, there are a variety of DIY tools to consider purchasing at your local hardware store, as well as local professionals who can handle the work for you. Reducing damage from the start can lessen unforeseen expenses after the fact. 

Size up the damage and plan accordingly.

“An excessive number of nail holes or unusually large holes would be considered repairs that are paid for using the tenants’ security deposit,” says Paul Kiledjian, chief executive at RentalHouse Property Management in Los Angeles. “It depends on the damage and on the tenants’ skill level and experience with repairing nail holes.” 

The best thing to do in this case is request the paint colors and finishes in your unit from your property manager so you can do a color match that’s as precise as possible. Be sure to check with them before you do the work, though, so everyone’s on the same page. This two-minute video can help guide you on how to paint a wall.

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When in doubt, document. 

When it comes to a large amount of damage or a high-end rental unit, Kiledjian says you might want to seek the help of a professional to meet the standards of the property manager. “Managers want to avoid a situation where the repairs need to be redone — charging the tenant again for repairs they’ve already paid for,” he says. 

Prior to making any repairs yourself, review your lease agreement to find out what’s required of you. The standard is to return the unit back to its original condition. “For the landlord to retain the security deposit, professional estimates and pictures are required to document the abuse,” Kostiw says. 

Likewise, Kiledjian says, tenants should take pictures of the wall “prior to making holes, prior to repairing holes, and after making repairs so they can compare the before-and-after pictures to determine if the repair brought the wall back to its pre-hole condition.”