What Can Happen Legally if You Have Damaged Your Rental Property?
Even day to day living can result in property damage in your rental. Accidents happen – some big, some small. But when do you need to worry? Your landlord does have the legal right to charge (and even sue) you for property damage; however, depending on the size and severity of the damage you may be able to work something out with your
landlord. Read on to learn the potential legal ramifications of damaging your rental property.
When You Don’t Have to Worry
Normal wear and tear in a home is inevitable. So while your landlord might get worked up about the small nail holes and scuffs on the wall, you can not be punished for these.
As a tenant, you can not be charged, or have money deducted from your security deposit, for damage that would have inevitably occurred as a result of the property being inhabited. As renters, the big problem is that the line between “wear and tear” and “damage” can be difficult to draw, leaving you in a panic when anything happens. As a general guideline, damage is caused by one avoidable accident, whereas normal wear and tear is gradual and unavoidable.
When You May Lose Your Security Deposit
It’s your responsibility to report all damages to your landlord. Remember to keep in mind the difference between wear and tear and damage. If you’ve caused actual damage to the property it will be on you to pay for the damage, starting with the money being deducted from your security deposit. The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 states that any damage caused by the tenant, or by anyone the tenant invites to the property, will need to be repaired or paid for by the tenant. So say your friend spills red wine on the carpet, it’s your job to first let your landlord know, and then clean or even replace the carpet – with the cost being deducted from your deposit.
When You Risk Getting Billed Extra
If the damages exceed your security deposit, your landlord may come to you for the remaining amount. This can be handled in two ways. First, they might choose to sue you and take you to court. Second, they might just send you an itemized bill for the repairs.
If you receive a bill, make sure that it comes complete with a detailed list, receipts, estimates and any other documentation that proves the cost. Landlords have to follow the rules too! If you’re unsure of your rights as a tenant, chat with a professional before paying.
When You Risk Getting Sued By Your Landlord
There are certain times when landlord-tenant conflicts cannot be easily resolved. If you’ve cost your landlord a fair share of money in damages, or are refusing to pay for damages, you can plan to spend some time in court. Your best bet is to not let problems accumulate, keep photo evidence, and keep your landlord in the loop. Landlords are people too, and most times any issues can be settled outside the courtroom.
For expert tenant legal advice, call the team at Heritage Law.