Is the tenant responsible for damages after moving out?

Tenants moved out and
turned in keys. I Did not
notice that they left the
recessed refrigerator
water valve dripping water
they did not shut it off
completely. The water
went into the wall and had
to be repaired. Can I
take this damages out of
The security deposit?

Asked on June 2, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If a tenant causes damage to rental property (whether intentional or negligently), they are liable for it. This is true even if such damage is not discovered until after they vacate the premises. To cover your costs, you legally have the right to take the amount out of their security deposit. Just be sure to document all expneses associated with having to repair the damage so you can show it to the tenant as proof of your claim.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, you can: if the tenant, by his/her negligence (carelessness) caused damage, even if the damage did not manifest or was not discovered until after the move-out date, they are still liable for it. The issue is not the date of the damage: it's whether it was caused by the tenant due to negligence. If so, they are responsible. You could take the repair cost out of the security deposit.

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