What are my rights if I have a landlord who is charging me for a toilet that was already broken?

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What are my rights if I have a landlord who is charging me for a toilet that was already broken?

They are refusing to answer my phone calls and e mails. It’s like their word against mine and they have my money. They are just waiting to keep my security deposit when I leave. They are wrong.

Asked on March 23, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Legally, a tenant is only responsible for damage he or she (or his or her family, guests, or pets) caused, which damage exceeds normal wear and tear. So if the toilet was broken before you moved in, you should not be liable for it.

Practically, if the landlord disagrees and claims you broke it, then if the landlord withholds money from your security deposit, you'd have to sue to recover the money. It may or may not be worthwhile getting involved in litigation; sometimes, you need to consider whether it may be better to pay, even if unfair. The main factor is cost--how much do you think the landlord may try to keep, and is that amount worth the expense and time of litigation?


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