If there was preexisting damage to the rental unit, it should have been specifically noted in the lease agreement prior to you taking possession. If it was not, you are open to a claim that you caused the damage.
It is not possible to fully protect yourself from any claim, however, you can create evidence to offset any such claim. I recommend that after you have fully and completely cleaned the rental unit, you take many photographs to document the condition of each room. Bathrooms, appliances, cabinets and counter tops should also be photographed. If possible, also take a video of the entire unit and have a third party witness inspect the property with you. Try to have your landlord agree to conduct a final walk-thru inspection with you, and document at that time if the property is acceptable or has any defects. When you return the keys, obtain a receipt from the landlord.
You cannot force your landlord to inspect it in this manner, because your landlord has 15 days to either return your deposit, or notify you by certified mail within 30 days of when you vacate of any claim on your deposit. Obviously, the better the property looks when you vacate, the less likely a claim will be made on your deposit.
The hiring of an attorney is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide, ask us to send you free written information about our qualifications and experience. The information provided by this website is not intended, nor should it be construed, to be legal advice. Your use of this website, and/or the sending of information to the Fucillo Law Firm, P.L., does not establish an attorney/client relationship. Please do not send us any confidential or privileged information until such time that an actual attorney/client relationship is actually established.
I completely agree with Attorney Fucillo and would only add that when you move into a new place, be sure to take pictures right away and notes if necessary.
Write the landlord a letter the first full day you are in the property if you notice anything out of place and send the letter certified mail to their address. (you can also text or email or call the LL, but be sure to send the certified letter).