Can a landlord charge for damages made aftera tenant hasmoved out and the final walk-through has been made?

UPDATED: May 10, 2011

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Can a landlord charge for damages made aftera tenant hasmoved out and the final walk-through has been made?

We moved out of our NJ apartment rental 10 days ago. On that day, we did a thorough walk-through with the landlord who agreed that the apartment was given back clean and free of damages. Unfortunately, we did not get anything in writing. However, yesterday she sent me an email saying that while she was cleaning in the kitchen, the cabinet above the refrigerator fell off. She is claiming that this is our fault and said that we either need to repair it or she will charge us out of our security deposit to have someone else fix this. Who is correct here?

Asked on May 10, 2011 under Real Estate Law, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If there was damage which was not visible at the time of the walk through--e.g. a loose cabinet that fell at a later date--then IF that damage is traceable to the tenants' actions, they can be charged for it. (If it was damage that could have been reasonably seen during the walk through, then the walk through should act to bar the landlord from seeking compensation.)

Note  that the fact that the cabinet was loose and fell does not, without more, make it your financial responsibility. Landlords may *not* charge for ordinary wear and tear. So if the cabinet simply has loosened over time, that is not your fault (and nor is it your fault if the landlord, the super, etc. hit it and knocked it loose). Only if it was caused by you, your family, your guests, etc. should you be responsible.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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