Can Landlords Charge Tenants For Nail Holes In A Wall?

Tenant hammering a nail into a wall

Nail holes in a rental property can be a nuisance for both the tenant and the landlord. If unused nail holes are not filled in, sanded properly, and painted over, they can become an eyesore.

As a tenant, you might be wondering whether your landlord can charge you for things like nail holes in the wall. 

In this blog post, I’ll answer that question and more. I’ll discuss how you can fix a nail hole yourself, when landlords can charge for damages, and why they might charge in the first place. 

Finally, I’ll share my experience of dealing with nail holes and other related matters as a landlord.

In most instances, nail holes are considered normal wear and tear. Landlords cannot charge a tenant for damages due to normal wear and tear within their rental property. However, if the holes in the walls are deemed to be excessive, the landlord may be able to charge the tenant for the repairs.

Nail holes are necessary in order to hang pictures, photo frames, mirrors and other items on walls. Without nail holes, tenants would be looking at blank walls for the duration of their stay.

I will say, it is advisable for tenants to double check the terms and conditions of their tenancy agreement. There might be a clause regarding the use of nails and screws on the walls.

Allowing tenants to make nail holes in the walls is a good idea as it allows them to personalise their home. As a result, there is a greater chance that they will stay for longer.

Tenants hanging a picture on the wall

What landlord doesn’t want a good tenant to stay long term?!

Besides, repairing a nail hole in a wall doesn’t take long, or cost much at all. A bit of decorators caulk and a dab of paint will get the job done, as I will explain in more detail in a minute.

Do Nail Holes Fall Into Normal Wear And Tear?

Nail holes in walls that are used to hang pictures, mirrors and other similar items are considered normal wear and tear. Excessive nail holes in walls are not considered normal wear and tear.

It can depend on how many there are, where they’re located, how big they are and whether or not the walls need a lot of repair work before it is suitable for someone else to move in.

When a rental property is advertised, it is important for it to look its best. This means repairing any damage, such as nail holes in walls, and making sure that the property is clean and presentable.

By doing this, landlords will be more likely to attract good tenants who will want to live in their property for a long time.

If the property looks run down or in disrepair, it is likely that potential tenants will be put off.

When Can A Landlord Charge For Nail Holes?

Landlords can seek to charge the tenant for nail holes in the wall when the holes are deemed excessive. For example, if the tenant struggles to hammer a nail into the wall, for whatever reason, and causes damage in several places to the plaster, paintwork or wallpaper.

Landlords or property managing agents typically do not notice excessive nail holes in the walls until the end of the tenancy. They are easier to identify when a tenant has vacated the property and a ‘move out’ inspection takes place.

This is because pictures, mirrors and other items can hide damages which are not identified during periodic inspections.

Of course, tenants can seek to fix the holes themselves, or if necessary, arrange for a professional to do the work depending on the amount of damage that has been caused.

It’s also advisable for the tenant to communicate with the landlord about the problem too.

Maybe the landlord has the tools and skills to repair the walls, or perhaps he knows a reliable handyman that can get the work completed quickly and cheaply.

If the tenant doesn’t ask, they will never know. There is no harm in asking.

How To Fix A Nail Hole In A Wall

Fixing a nail hole in a wall is quite easy when you know how. You just need to apply a piece of decorators caulk in the hole with your finger, wipe away any excess, and once dry, gentle use sandpaper if needed, and then you can paint over it.

Here is a short video to show you how:

How To Fix Nail Holes In A Wall

We all like to move pictures around or redecorate from time to time, so hopefully you will find this useful.

On an additional note, I have also heard that toothpaste works well as a filler. Although I have never tried it.

Are Drill Holes Considered Normal Wear And Tear?

Some mirrors, clocks and other similar items can be quite heavy and require something stronger than a nail to support the weight. Drilling a hole and inserting a raw plug and screw is often the only other option to hang heavier items. As such, drilled holes can be considered normal wear and tear.

That said, the same principles apply. If the amount of drilled holes is excessive, or if the tenant has caused additional damage to the wall, paint or wallpaper, then the landlord can seek the costs to cover the repairs.

It’s advisable for tenants to contact their landlord or property managing agent if they are unsure. Especially if they do not have experience with drilling holes in a wall.

Repairing drilled holes will require a suitable filler. Something more substantial than decorators caulk.

Polycell is a good reputable brand that sells many different types of filler, depending on your needs.

My Experience With Nail Holes As A Landlord

Nail holes are common in any home. But during the last 18 years of being a landlord, I have not experienced any major issues with nail holes.

When tenants move out I always ensure the property has a good clean, and if necessary, I give the walls a lick of paint after taking care of any nail holes.

I have never passed the cost of having to repaint the walls to the previous tenant, as I view this as normal wear and tear.

I have had to charge tenants for a professional clean in the past, but it has never been a surprise to them.

I have always talked to them about leaving the property respectfully clean before they vacate, or I will need to instruct a company to do the work for them.

It then becomes their choice.

They can clean it themselves, organise and pay someone themselves, or leave it to me to arrange and claim on the deposit.

I have also written an article about how much a landlord can charge for damages. You may find this helpful if you are intending to make a deduction on the tenants deposit.

Andy Walker

Andy Walker is a property investor and landlord with over 20 years of experience, providing free education to help others start or improve their Buy-To-Let business.

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