There are a lot of things to consider when searching for an apartment. With all of the various factors that come into play, it can often become a stressful situation when trying to determine the best location. You will want to be sure to eliminate any additional stress by ensuring that you know exactly what things you are responsible for prior to signing your lease. For instance, you don’t want to get caught being charged extra fees for things considered to be damage that you assumed were normal wear and tear.

The damages that tenants are required to fix vary by state. It is recommended that you search for your state’s Landlord-Tenant Act to get a better understanding of what you are required to do. For an example of a Landlord-Tenant Act, here is the act that passed in Pennsylvania.

Your lease agreement will outline which damages you are specifically responsible for. However, sometimes reading leases can be time-consuming and confusing. If you want to try and understand your lease, Investopedia has a basic guide on what to look for and you may consider hiring a lawyer to look over the paperwork for you.

While you cannot know for sure what the exact terms of your lease are without reading it, there are a few general guidelines that are applicable in most rentals.

Damages That Require Payment From Tenant

Tenants tend to be responsible for apartment damages that are related to the activities of the tenant, such as:

  • Belongings left in the apartment after moving out
  • Broken Tiles
  • Holes in walls and floor
  • Burns on carpet and walls
  • Paint
  • Damage or problems with appliances
  • Damages caused by pets

Trash Removal

When you leave items behind, you are creating more work for the landlord. While this is not technically a form of damage, it is still something your landlord can charge you for. Once an item is left behind in an apartment, the landlord has to remove it. This is wasting the landlord’s time and often costs money, which is why they are allowed to charge you. The easiest way to make sure this does not happen is to have one final sweep before officially moving out. Check with your landlord to make sure that all objects remaining in the apartment are not yours.

Damaged Floors

The most common forms of damage to floors are broken tiles, burn marks, and holes. The tenant is responsible for all three forms of damage. These types of damage are a result of your behavior inside of the apartment, which means that you will be required to pay to fix it. You are not liable for all forms of floor damage though. The damages that you are not responsible for will be covered later.

Damaged Walls

The most common forms of damage to walls are similar to the damages caused to floors. Broken tiles, burn marks, and holes are all things the tenant will be charged for. Some tenants will also be charged for painting their walls, but this depends on the agreements listed in your lease.

Problems To Appliances

You will be liable for any damage done to appliances in your apartment that are a result of your actions. Broken knobs, lights, and shelves are things that the tenant will be charged for. If an appliance of yours stops working, contact your landlord as soon as possible to determine if you will be required to fix it.

Problems Caused By Pets

Some apartments allow pets and some do not. Regardless of whether you secretly kept a pet, you are fully liable for any damages that the pet causes. You will be required to pay for stains, scratches, or any other damage caused by your pet.

No Cost To The Renter

Tenants are not responsible for damage caused by wear and tear. However, it is important to discuss these damages with your landlord to ensure that you are not required to fix or pay for them.

  • Floors – If the damage to the floor of your apartment is only caused by wear and tear, you are usually not responsible for it. Carpet and other flooring materials wear out over time, so some damage will be impossible to avoid. The natural discoloring of carpet is not something the tenant can control.
  • Walls – Things such as paint chipping away or losing color is not something the tenant can prevent.
  • Appliances – If an appliance simply dies due to no fault of the tenant, the tenant will not be responsible for fixing it. Again, it is important to notify your landlord as soon as possible regarding a broken appliance if you do not want to be charged for it.