Clarification of Allowable Section 8 Tenant Damage Claims

March 4, 2009
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The Arizona Public Housing Authority (APHA) has issued some guidelines for Section 8 owner/agents who are submitting special claims for reimbursement of damages made by tenants. According to the Special Claims Guidebook, Appendix 5C: “Normal costs of turning over an apartment after a tenant vacates may not be included on a claim to HUD for tenant damages. The costs an owner incurs for the basic cleaning and repairing of such items necessary to make a unit ready for occupancy by the next tenant are part of the costs of doing business.”

Normal Wear and Tear

According to the APHA, normal wear and tear includes, for example:

  • Carpet cleaning after one year of tenant occupancy
  • Cleaning window treatments/blinds after one year of tenant occupancy
  • Washing walls and windows
  • Touch-up painting
  • One-time fumigation of unit
  • Replacement of kitchen stove rings
  • Replacement of refrigerator ice cube trays
  • Cleaning inside and outside of kitchen cabinets
  • Bathroom towel bar replacement
  • Toilet seat or handle replacement
  • Caulking around bathtub or toilet

These and other normal wear-and-tear items may not be submitted to APHA as part of a damage claim.

Excessive Tenant Damage

The APHA alerts property owners that tenants who cause excessive damage to their units should have those items repaired and should receive a bill for the damages. “If they do not pay the charges, lease enforcement should be used to require payment,” it adds.

Some examples of tenant damage or neglect that should be repaired prior to vacancy include:

  • Damage to large appliances
  • Yellowing of walls from nicotine (if occupancy is less than 12 months)
  • Broken or damaged cabinets
  • Door replacement
  • Missing or bent bathroom shower rods
  • Fumigation of unit more than once

The APHA says that these items may be submitted for reimbursement as a damage claim after the tenant has moved out and attempts to collect from the tenant have been unsuccessful. However, photographs of the damage need to be included with the claim.