Can We Charge The Tenant for a Big Stain in New Granite Top?

Ask Attorney Brad:

We completely remodeled a townhouse apartment, adding granite. After a tenant of only a year, there is a 4-inch blue stain on the granite top. Can we charge the tenant for a new top if we cannot get the stain removed?
-Landlord Tom

Hello Tom,

Thanks for reaching out. It’s unfortunate to see your work quickly ruined by a tenant. Nevertheless, the answer to your question is likely “yes.” You’re allowed to charge a tenant for damages beyond normal wear and tear. I would classify a 4-inch blue stain as “beyond normal wear and tear,” but the proof would be in the photos of the same.

With regard to damages beyond normal wear and tear, landlords can withhold money from the security deposit when the tenant moves out. If the issue can be repaired now, you may be able to do so, and serve a for-cause notice for the damages/repairs. Keep in mind that if the property is in Portland, there may be other prerequisites you need to follow before you can withhold those damages from the deposit—i.e. compliance with Portland’s FAIR Ordinance—but that’s a specific jurisdictional issue. That situation can be tricky, so working with an attorney through that issue is also advised.