Did you have an opportunity to do a pre-tenancy walkthrough? If so, was anything noted at that time? Were you present during the post-tenancy walkthrough? Did you take photographs of the premises when you left? Did your landlord actually provide you with an accounting within Oregon's statutory time period of 31 days? These questions are important because their answers may help you establish normal wear and tear versus actual damage.
Below is the link for Oregon's security deposit law (note your municipality may have other applicable laws as well).
In terms of differentiating between normal wear and tear and damages beyond normal wear and tear, you really have to look at each specific damage. Keep in mind, under Oregon's statute, a landlord may charge you for things like carpet cleaning. Normal wear and tear is usually what's considered "minimal damage" and can include small scratches, minor scuffs, minimal nail holes, etc., on the walls or paint, worn or slightly stained carpeting, broken hinges, or other insignificant damage. Damages beyond normal wear and tear would include things like large holes in the wall or crayon/marker drawing on the walls, pet stains on the carpet, etc. Are there major damages to appliances, etc? The only real way to know for sure whether a damage is normal wear and tear versus real damage is to look at how the apartment was when you moved in..i.e. was that stain in the carpet already there..and to compare with the condition upon your leaving.
DISCLAIMER: Brandy A. Peeples is licensed to practice law in the State of Maryland. This answer is being provided for informational purposes only and the laws of your jurisdiction may differ. This answer based on general legal principles and is not intended for the purpose of providing specific legal advice or opinions. Under no circumstances does this answer constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice relating to your specific situation, I strongly urge you to consult with an attorney in your area. NO COMMUNICATIONS WITH ME ARE TO BE CONSTRUED AS ARISING FROM AN ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP AND NO ATTORNEY-CLIENT RELATIONSHIP WILL BE ESTABLISHED WITH ME UNLESS I HAVE EXPRESSLY AGREED TO UNDERTAKE YOUR REPRESENTATION, WHICH INCLUDES THE EXECUTION OF A WRITTEN AGREEMENT OF RETAINER.
Ms. Peeples gives a good run down for what the law is. As for your options, you can contact your landlord and try to work out a settlement and find out what the disagreement is about, you can dispute the bill in its entirety and refuse to pay and then fight about the facts in small claims court if your landlord decides to sue you. Before your small claims matter is heard, you'll be given the opportunity to mediate (at least in Linn & Benton county, less certain in Eugene). As was mentioned, the facts are important so you should have a lawyer to look at your case and help you honestly assess your position and what a fair settlement might be.
Licensed in Oregon. Advice provided is general legal information relevant to the facts provided. It is not intended as legal advice applicable to your specific situation. No attorney/client relationship is created unless and until we have met and entered into a written representation agreement. Contact me at 541-250-0542 to discuss your matter further. www.MaugerLaw.com
If you are unable to negotiate a settlement, you might also pay such part of it as you believe you owe, and inform the landlord that you dispute the rest. If the landlord chooses to bring a collection action, you can dispute the charges in the court proceeding.
This comment is general in nature and is not intended as legal advice. It does not create an attorney client relationship and obviously is not confidential. You should contact an attorney in your area who can review with you all of the relevant facts and give you specific legal advice.