Can I be charged for the damages that I didn’t cause?

I moved into a property that a friend was renting from a property manager back in

June of 2014. He was living there for 2 years with other tenants before I moved

in. When I moved in to replace the tenants I never signed a lease or any

documents. In August of 2015, the original tenant moved out who had the original

lease with the landlord which expired before I moved in and I started making

the rental payments. I am moving out and the landlord says I have to pay for the

damages capret stains a hole These damages were there when I moved in. The

landlord never did any inspection walks when tenants moved out or when I moved

in. What should I do?

Asked on May 25, 2016 under Real Estate Law, Florida

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

Legally, you are only liable for non-wear-and-tear damage done by you, your household members, your pets, and/or your guests, and not for damage pre-dating your tenancy. Practically, if you don't have photograpic evidence showing the damage was there as of when you moved in and/or do not have a prior tenant testifying that he/she caused the damage, if you have been there for 2 years, if the landlord seeks money from you, it will be difficult for you to show that the damage wasn't your fault; the natural presumption will be that you are responsible. So you may have trouble winning case if the landlord comes after you for the money, if you don't have good evidence or testimony of what you say.


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