If you damage your rental unit beyond reasonable wear and tear, your landlord can charge you the expenses to fix these problems when you move out. The amount your landlord charges depends on the extent of the damage you have to compensate. Your landlord may deduct this amount from your security deposit and may claim more if the security deposit is not enough to cover the damages.
You have to pay for any damage that is beyond reasonable wear and tear. There is no clear definition of reasonable wear and tear, but it generally means deterioration that occurs as a result of normal use. For example, the paint may fade and chip, the floor finish may change color and the carpet may appear worn after years of use. Damages beyond normal wear and tear include things such as drawings on the walls, broken windows and holes in the wall.
Your landlord can charge you for leaving the rental property dirty. Generally, the unit has to be as clean as it was at the time you moved in. If the unit was already dirty at the time you moved in, you don't have to leave it clean. If you make your rental unit so dirty that it becomes unhealthy or unsafe, your landlord can charge you the amount of money it takes to make it habitable again.
Your landlord may be able to charge you for damages that were already in the rental unit before you moved in if you can't prove they were pre-existing damages. As such, you should always conduct a thorough inspection of the rental property before you move in. You should make a list of every imperfection, sign the document and date it, and give a copy to your landlord. If possible, take photographs and have your landlord sign a copy of your list.
Your landlord may also charge you for damages you did not cause, such as those resulting from fire or vandalism, unless you can prove you or your guests did not cause the damage. You should tell your landlord immediately every time such damage occurs to avoid having to pay for it. You also can file a report to the police. Retain copies of documents relating to the incident as proof you are not responsible for the damage.
Edriaan Koening began writing professionally in 2005, while studying toward her Bachelor of Arts in media and communications at the University of Melbourne. She has since written for several magazines and websites. Koening also holds a Master of Commerce in funds management and accounting from the University of New South Wales.