Can a landlord charge for nail holes?

Nail holes in walls are a common problem in rental properties and can be a source of frustration for both tenants and landlords. After moving into a new rental property, tenants may want to decorate their new home with pictures, photos, or shelves, which requires drilling holes in the wall.

Understandably, this raises the question of whether “are tenants responsible for nail holes?” at the end of the lease. The law generally states that the tenant must return the property in the same condition in which it was received, with normal wear and tear from daily use. Knowing this, can a landlord charge for nail holes?


Which nail holes in the wall should I fix so the owner won’t charge me?

Nail holes are small perforations or indentations left in walls or other surfaces from inserting nails. These holes vary in size and depth depending on the type of nail used and the force applied during insertion. Three types of nail holes require repair before returning the property to the landlord.

While it may seem basic to talk about the different types of nail holes, it is necessary to address and repair them before returning the property to the landlord to fulfill maintenance obligations and leave it in suitable condition, as outlined in the lease agreement.

Small Holes

  • Caused by thin nails or small nails used to hang lightweight items such as small pictures or light decorations.
  • Small in diameter and depth but still visible.

Medium Holes

  • Resulting from medium-sized nails used to hang heavier items such as medium-sized mirrors or light shelves.
  • Larger in diameter and depth than small holes but manageable with basic repairs.
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Large Holes

  • Caused by thick nails or repeated nail insertion in the same spot.
  • Significant diameter and depth that can noticeably affect the appearance of the wall.
  • Need extra effort to repair and restore the surface to its original state properly.

Do I need to fill nail holes when moving out of the apartment?

Whether or not you’ll need to fix nail holes when you move into a new place depends on a few factors. First, look closely at your lease agreement to see if it mentions anything about nail holes. Sometimes, tenants are responsible for fixing small holes themselves.

In some areas, “normal wear and tear” might include small nail holes; in others, they’re considered the tenant’s responsibility. To determine whether your landlord can charge for nail holes, it’s a good idea to check your local landlord/tenant laws. Generally, landlords have the right to do so.

Can a landlord charge for nail holes?

Remember that a few small nail holes are usually seen as normal wear and tear, but if there are too many or they’re large, your landlord might consider it excessive damage. That’s why chatting with your landlord before you move in is a good idea.

Ask them if they expect you to fix nail holes and if they have any specific instructions or preferred repair methods. It’s always best to be on the same page to avoid any misunderstandings down the line.

How much can a landlord charge for nail holes?

There’s no universal answer to how much a landlord can charge for nail holes. Laws and regulations on this issue vary significantly from state to state. In some states, minor nail holes are considered normal wear and tear, and landlords cannot deduct the repair costs from a security deposit. Still, an approximate average for each hole in the wall could range from $5 to $25.

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Other states have broader definitions, allowing landlords to deduct reasonable repair costs for damage that exceeds normal use. Additionally, lease agreements and local practices can further impact the specifics within each state.

The crucial factor is determining whether the nail holes constitute regular wear and tear or tenant damage. A few small nail holes from hanging pictures are typically seen as normal wear and tear. Conversely, numerous large holes from improper hanging or excessive decorations may be caused by tenant damage, justifying a deduction from the security deposit.

To safeguard against unexpected deductions, always review carefully your lease agreement, familiarize yourself with tenant-landlord laws in your state, and consider documenting the apartment’s condition with photos upon move-in and move-out for comparison purposes.

Tenant damages vs. Normal wear and tear: Which is the difference?

Differentiating between tenant damage and normal wear and tear is crucial in any rental agreement. It helps set expectations for both tenants and landlords, facilitates a seamless move-out process, and mitigates potential conflicts regarding security deposit deductions.

Normal Wear and Tear

Normal wear and tear refers to the gradual deterioration of a property due to regular use over time. It’s anticipated and unavoidable, and tenants are not responsible for repairing it.


  • Faded paint from exposure to sunlight.
  • Light scuff marks on walls.
  • Loose doorknobs resulting from daily use.
  • Minor carpet wear from regular foot traffic.
  • Minor surface scratches caused by furniture placement.

Tenant Damage

Tenant damage encompasses any harm to the property beyond normal wear and tear resulting from neglect, misuse, or intentional actions of the tenant. Tenants are liable for repairing such damage or compensating the landlord accordingly.

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  • Broken windows or doors.
  • Burn marks on countertops or floors.
  • Cracked or chipped tiles.
  • Large holes in walls from hanging items.
  • Neglected leaks or plumbing issues leading to damage.
  • Stained carpets requiring more than standard cleaning.