Damage to an apartment at the end of the rental: how to proceed?

Damage to an apartment at the end of the rental: how to proceed?

Last Updated on March 21, 2024 by Saira Farman

It is very common that, when handing over the keys, a landlord observes that his tenant caused different damages to the rented house. When this occurs, there is the possibility to act or claim in various ways. However, several doubts may arise in this regard. How to proceed with the damage caused to an apartment at the end of the rental? Is it always beneficial to claim? In this article we tell you everything you need to know about it.

The deposit that the tenant must deliver to the landlord at the beginning of the rental can be used to cover the repair costs for different damages. However, this is not always possible. In that case, there is the possibility of recourse to justice. For this it will also be necessary to collect a series of evidence and claim within a reasonable time.

Below we will tell you how the landlord and tenant should act regarding the care of a rented home. Then, what happens when, at the end of the rental, it is found that there is damage to the apartment. What happens when the deposit is not enough to cover the expenses? Is it always beneficial to initiate legal action? Is it possible in all cases to obtain the necessary money? We at NPHP are here to help. Read on to find out!

What are the main rights and obligations for the landlord and tenant regarding the care of an apartment for rent?

  • Request a deposit and additional guarantees that cover the damage to the apartment at the end of the rental: the deposit and additional guarantees have the main objective of verifying the level of solvency of the tenant, although they also serve to cover for eventual damages. The first one is mandatory when signing the contract, while the request for the second is optional. At the end of the agreement, the deposit, which consists of a sum of money that must not exceed two monthly rent payments, must be returned to the tenant. However, if the landlord proves that there was damage to the house, he cannot return it and use that amount to cover the repair costs.
  • Receive the apartment in condition at the end of the rental: although it seems obvious, it is one of the main rights of the landlord. Once the rental contract ends, you must receive your home in the same condition in which it was delivered. In the event that this does not happen, you can choose different ways of claiming and, as we mentioned, you can also retain the deposit that the tenant gave at the beginning of the relationship.

On the other hand, the tenant has the obligation to comply with these two conditions: deliver to the landlord the deposit and the additional guarantees requested when starting the rental and return the property as it was received.

For what type of damage to the apartment is it possible to claim at the end of the rental?

Before proceeding, it is important to clarify what type of damage to the apartment at the end of the rental enables the landlord to retain the deposit or claim in another way. The responsibility for the damage will fall on the tenant when it can be proven that he was the direct or indirect culprit of the damage or that he acted negligently.

Even when the damage observed in the home exceeds the normal deterioration that corresponds to its daily use, it will also be up to the tenant to take charge, since it is damage that has been produced by abnormal use of the property.

Damages to the apartment for which the landlord cannot claim at the end of the rental

On the other hand, there are certain situations in which the landlord does not have the right to retain the deposit to repair damages or claim for them. These are those caused by:

  • Lack of conservation works: it is the owner’s obligation to carry out all the necessary repairs and maintenance works to guarantee the living conditions of the home. Therefore, if the damage observed in the apartment at the end of the rental has to do with a lack of them, you will not be able to hold the tenant responsible for it.
  • Small damages caused by normal use of the home: the landlord also has the obligation to repair any damage that has to do with normal use of the home at the end of the contract. This type of damage will only be the responsibility of the tenant within the duration of the rental agreement.

In this article, we will tell you more about which home repairs correspond to the owner and which ones to the tenant, and how the team of naya pakistan housing scheme loan works through this problem.

How to proceed when damage to the apartment is observed at the end of the rental?

Although it is possible that the landlord will observe damages or defects within the duration of the rental contract, it is most likely that he will check them on the day of delivery of the keys. Next, we will see what this instance consists of and what possibilities the owner has in this scenario.

Sign a document at the end of the rental where the tenant acknowledges the damage caused to the apartment

When the time of the contract and its corresponding extensions ends, the landlord and the tenant ideally sign a document ending the rental where both specify:

  • That the tenant returns the keys to the landlord and he accepts them.
  • Whether or not the tenant owes any amount of money to the landlord.
  • If the landlord has observed damage and damage to the home that can be attributed to the action or inaction of the tenant.
  • Taking into account the two previous points, if the landlord returns the deposit or not to the tenant.

By signing this document, the owner ensures the receipt of the keys and the recovery of his home in a reliable manner. This procedure will also allow you to legitimately claim for the damages you have observed, since the tenant, by signing this document, will be acknowledging them.

What happens when the tenant refuses to sign?

However, the reality is that this situation is not very frequent. Typically, no tenant signs a document agreeing that they intentionally damaged the home. In that case, it will be necessary to try, at least, to sign that you have delivered the keys to the landlord. 

If this is not achieved, it will be best to initiate an eviction process before the courts, since taking the keys without the existence of any document or witness can mean more serious consequences.

However, suppose the tenant agrees to sign this document. What possibilities does the owner have to cover himself against the damages and damages caused?

Withhold bail

As we mentioned at the beginning, one of the main functions of the surety is to cover the costs of eventual damage to the rented home. In the event that, at the end of the contract time, the owner and the tenant sign a rental termination document stating that there are damages that are the responsibility of the tenant, the deposit returns to the scene.

If the landlord observes damage to the home or to certain assets that compose it, he can choose to use the amount of the deposit to repair them instead of returning it to the tenant. In many cases, this sum of money is enough to cover the costs of the repairs, but what happens when the money from the deposit is not enough to repair the damage?

When the amount of the deposit is insufficient to repair the damages that are the responsibility of the tenant, the owner must go to the court corresponding to the address of the rented house and initiate legal action.

In this sense, the lessor is covered by articles 1,555 and 1,556 of the Civil Code to make this type of request, since they indicate that the tenant must take care of the rented property with the necessary diligence and that if he does not act with sufficient diligence, the landlord may claim for the damages caused.

How to prove the damage to the apartment at the end of the rental?

It should be clarified that it is the landlord who must always prove the existence of the damage caused to the apartment at the end of the rental and the responsibility or guilt of the tenant. In this way, according to the provisions of article 217.2 of the Civil Procedure Law (LEC), it must be in charge of searching and presenting sufficient evidence to the judge to show that the damages are real and were produced by action or omission of the tenant.

To ensure that you have sufficient evidence when making a legal claim, it is advisable to proceed as follows:

  • Go to the key handover ceremony with one or two witnesses, preferably impartial, who can observe if damage was caused to the home. These can be, for example, the doorman of the block or the president of the neighborhood community.
  • Go to the act of handing over the keys with a notary, especially if it is already expected that there will be damage to the home. If it is not possible to attend with this professional on that day, it should happen as soon as possible. Your task will be to draw up a Prudential Certificate that attests to the state in which the property is located. It is also convenient to carry out a photographic report at this time. If this is not possible, at least photos should be taken of those larger or more obvious flaws.
  • Assess the damage to the home through an expert.

Once all these precautions have been taken and sufficient evidence has been collected, the landlord can sue in court for the repair of the damage caused to the home. 

It is important to mention that the landlord must not only be able to prove the existence of the damages, but also the so-called causal link. What does it consist of? 

The causal link is the relationship between the damage caused to the home and the time that has elapsed. In this way, the courts will be able to verify, when the landlord claims before the month or two months after the end of a rental contract, that the damage was caused by the outgoing tenant and not by another person.

In other words, if the landlord takes too long to make this claim through the courts, the causal link will no longer be so obvious and it will be more difficult to prove the tenant’s guilt. It will be important, if you have made the decision to initiate legal action, to do so as soon as possible.

Read more: Have Damaged Property How to File a Property Damage Claim

Is it possible to recover the economic cost for the damage to the apartment at the end of the rental?

As we have seen, the deposit does not always cover the costs of the damage caused to an apartment at the end of the rental. This is when the owner must resort to taking legal action. Now, is it always possible to obtain the money necessary to carry out the corresponding repairs after going to court?

Not always. Everything will depend on the level of solvency that the tenant has. In this way, once the claim for damages in a rented house has been made, the judge will not oblige the tenant to pay for the cost of repairing the damage, but rather condemn him to do so, which does not mean the same thing.

Faced with a conviction of this type, the court does not have the power to force the tenant to pay if he or she does not have enough money or sizable assets to cover expenses. Therefore, never a judgment of a judge, even in favor of the landlord, will guarantee the collection of the costs of repairing the damage caused to a rented home.

What does this mean? That it will be necessary to evaluate when to initiate legal action and when not to. Providing and collecting the necessary evidence to prove the damage is a great cost for the landlord. If there is no assurance that the tenant will be able to face the judge’s sentence later, it may be best not to claim through the courts, since it can involve a much greater loss but do not fear as the team of ehsaas program nadra contains highly trained experts when it comes to matters like this.