How should I document decline in a rental property to protect my security deposit?

by John D. Treleven, Lawyer Referral Service Panelist

In Ohio, landlords can only recover for damages beyond normal “wear and tear” on the property.  What constitutes normal “wear and tear” is generally determined on a case by case basis. Pictures, videos, and any other documented evidence will help you if you ever find yourself in court in regards to a security deposit.

When you first move into a property, you should take a number of pictures or a short video of the property.  You should pay special attention to any parts of the property that look damages already.  If you are taking a video, briefly show your smartphone or some other electronic device that displays the date and time to authenticate when the video was taken.  If you take pictures, develop them with a third-party and keep the receipt (they should then also have a development date on the back).

Some landlords will do a walkthrough of your property and note concerns together.  Make sure you get a copy of the written results of any walkthrough from your landlord.

Finally, put any concerns you have in writing and send them to your landlord.  Using email works best.  Be specific when addressing these concerns and it is unlikely that you will be held responsible for any damages listed when you move out.

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