What Damages Can My Landlord Claim?

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21 Sep 2011

A Property24 reader asks:


On termination of a lease agreement to what extent can the landlord claim for damages? Can items include painting of walls and general cleaning? And if items were defective before occupation and brought to the landlord's attention, can the landlord claim for those items if he did not fix them?

Alan Levy, an attorney at Alan Levy Attorneys who specialises in evictions, rent recoupment and landlord / tenant law replies:

The landlord, on termination of the lease agreement, can claim from the tenant damages for any defects to the premises i.e. if the walls were tarnished by the tenant or if the premises were left in an unclean way, these costs can be claimed by the landlord.

If items such as these were defective before occupation and brought to the landlord's attention, then the landlord cannot claim for these items, once the lease is terminated.

In general, any conduct by the tenant which causes damage to the premises may be reclaimed by the landlord. If the premises were damaged before occupation and this was properly recorded by the tenant then these damages cannot be claimed by the landlord from the tenant.

Readers' Comments Have a comment about this article?  Email us now

My lease came to an end at the end of August and the landlord told I will not get my deposit cause they got an quotation to restore the carpet in the flat that was damaged and deplated when I moved in and I made it clear to the landlord and he told me that the carpet is old. So I did not get my deposit back for that reason. - Trevor

What about general wear and tear of the property? - Dean

Could a landlord keep all of your deposit because the garden was not how it looked before moving in? nothing was dead or removed from the garden and was looked after (garden mowed, bushes trimmed)  and cleaned regularly. - Samantha 

Thank you for this article, I found it informative. However, I have a question. If the landlord does not do an inspection with the tenant, and there is no signed defect list, is the landlord entitled to the tenant’s deposit, or a portion thereof? Can the tenant use the deposit as his/her last month’s rent to ensure he/she gets his/her money back? I know the landlord cannot evict the tenant within a month, so what stops the tenant from doing this? -Your feedback would be much appreciated. - Gavin  

The one thing I wanted to ask, is along similar lines but complicated. I rented a house, the pool was clear. The walls of the pool were however stained (was not very clear to see at the time), as the pool was old. I maintained the pool, but when I left the premises, the Landlord claimed for an acid wash of the pool! This was then deducted from my deposit (R4000). After doing some research via the web. It was stated that Acid washing a pool was something that should be done ever 8 – 10 years on a pool! This was listed on numerous sites. What recourse does a tenant have in a case like this? Whereby funds are automatically deducted from the deposit. I did not agree to this, but the Property Agent, just agreed with the Landlord and deducted the cost…! - Chris 


About the Author
Julia Hinton

Julia Hinton

Editor at Property24.com

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