Can my landlord charge me for damages I did not cause?

UPDATED: Sep 15, 2012

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Can my landlord charge me for damages I did not cause?

The property manager is telling us we have to pay a cleaning fee, and pay to replace the screen doors. I cleaned the house just as clean as it was when we moved in (there is no carpet, just hardwood), and there is a hole in the screen door, but we lived in the country where there are dogs running loose, and some of them would come sleep on our porch at night. One of the dogs chewed a hole in the screen doors (not my dog) and they are trying to make us pay for it. I don’t understand how that is fair, we have dogs but ours are indoor dogs and the damage is on the outside door. They know that there are loose dogs and they are still trying to charge us.

Asked on September 15, 2012 under Real Estate Law, Alabama


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

In the state of Alabama the landlord is required to return a security deposit or an accounting of the deductions with in 35 days after the tenancy ends.  A landlord is permitted to deduct for damage over and above normal wear and tear.  Now, your state puts obligations on you the tenant in certain circumstances. An Alabama Tenant is required to maintain the unit they live in - not to damage the unit and to immediately notify the landlord of any problems and to provide access for emergency repairs. Now, did you notify them of the damage to the screen by the outside dogs and that this was a problem?  How can you prove it was the outside dogs?  Do you see my point here?  If you contest the charges then you need to take them to small calims court.  Good luck.

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