moved out. owners moved back in, home is on a fault line, had to be jacked up 4inches last yr. walls are cracking ect. they are now charging us for the roof that is over the driveway saying we backed into it to cause it to drop. not true! it is from the home shifting. also charged us for painting a whole bedroom due to one small area where our kid drew. replaced toilet even thou just the tank top was cracked, replaced doors and for painting them even thou they were old and wouldn't shut properly. 'new sink even thou we told them by phone it had issues, and "miscellaneous" charges. we have witness statements saying the home was falling apart. are we still liable? this is $1,600 they want us to pay plus kept our $500.oo deposit.
If your landlord wants to come after you for these damages they will likely bring suit in small claims court. At that point, the burden is on them to prove that you caused the damages. You are only responsible for those damages that you caused above ordinary wear and tear. Collect all of the evidence you can (documents, pictures, videos, witnesses) that show that the cause of the damage was not your fault or was just ordinary wear and tear. At the small claims trial, you will have your chance to defend yourself.
Answers to these questions are not intended to be legal advice and do create a lawyer-client relationship. Please consult with a local attorney in your area for more information.
Generally the landlord has to account for your security deposit within 30 days. That is a first question.
Your instincts are seemingly good - the landlord should not be charging you for all of these things. If the landlord has appropriately accounted for what they are charging your for and did it timely, you will need to file an lawsuit against the landlord because they have your money, they probably won't come after you.
The complexion of your claim changes if the accounting by the landlord was late. Either way, the landlord tenant act provides for the prevailing party to be reimbursed their attorney fees. And either way, you probably need at least some legal guidance on how to navigate this, even if you can't afford an attorney to see the matter through.
Good luck, and know that there are time limits on your ability to make the claim (generally one year).
Actually, the landlord has to account for or refund your security deposit within 31 days of your restoring possession to him but that is admittedly a nitpick. The issue is not whether the home was otherwise "falling apart" but rather did you cause damage to the premises? If so, you are liable for the reasonable cost of repairs. If you did not and something else did, such as an Act of God, or it is within the bounds of ordinary wear and tear, then you do not owe. To the extent he charges you for something you are not liable for, you should not pay it. To the extent that you are liable for less than $500 total and he withheld that amount of the security deposit, you may be owed twice the amount he wrongfully withheld. The concept is pretty cut and dried though the exact application is usually not so neat and clean.
Nothing contained herein should be considered as legal advice for any specific situation and nothing herein is intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. Every case is very "fact-specific" and persons wishing legal advice on a specific matter should contact me or another attorney for an appointment to review their particular circumstances and to create a lawyer-client relationship.
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