How to Charge for Damages to a Rental Property

You, as a landlord, have the right to charge a tenant for damage he did to the rental property to cover the money you paid for repairs. You must follow local laws regarding notice and proof of repair expenses. You cannot charge for routine wear and tear or damage that existed before the tenant moved in, and you must show accurate and reasonable repair costs.

Take photos of the damage. Use a camera that displays the date on the pictures. Make copies.

Keep all receipts for items bought for minor repairs. For example, for a cracked door, keep the receipts for the new door and any extra hardware needed for installation, such as hinges. Make copies.

Arrange for repair quotes from at least two professionals for major damage. Get the quotes in writing. Keep paid invoices and the canceled checks or credit card receipts for the professional's fees. Make copies.

Write a notice to the tenant. State the type of damage the tenant caused and the cost to repair. Cite the lease -- if any -- and state the damage clause included in the lease terms. Ask for reimbursement. Attach copies of the receipts, invoices, payments and photos. Copy the notice.

Mail the notice to the tenant. Use certified mail, return receipt. Keep the signed return receipt you receive back in the mail after the tenant gets the notice.


  • You may have to sue the tenant in housing court for the damages if he does not pay. Some states allow a landlord to remove money for damages from the security deposit. Check state laws before doing so and follow all notice requirements.