A picture tells a story just as well as a large amount of descriptive text.
Many residential lease agreements provide for the payment of a security deposit to be held by the landlord in the event the tenant causes damage to the property. In a residential landlord/tenant relationship, the tenant is supposed to leave the premises in broom swept condition with no damage to the premises; normal wear and tear excepted. Sometimes though, at the end of the lease term, the landlord and tenant will not see eye to eye as to damage to the property and whether or not the tenant left the premises in broom swept condition.
Many times an initial walk thru will be conducted and existing damage to the landlord’s property will be noted either by way of a checklist or by way of written description. At the end of the lease term, another walk thru may be conducted and existing damage will again be noted on a checklist or by way of written description of the damage. Whether you are the landlord or the tenant, one thing that could help in the event of a dispute as to whether or not the tenant caused the damage, or whether the damage was existing at the beginning of the lease, is for the parties to the lease agreement to photograph such things as the property, appliances, walls, doors and fixtures. In the event of a dispute at the end of the lease, photographs and/or video will oftentimes be the deciding factor as to whether the damage was caused by the tenant or was preexisting prior to the commencement of the lease. An important factor to consider, though, is that with the ability of having a date and time stamped onto a photograph, or inserted into a video, the parties should make certain that the date and time are set correctly. Dates and times on a photograph, or in a video, are often just as important as the photograph or video itself.
If you are a former landlord or former tenant and think you may need to pursue litigation to determine your rights to a security deposit, please seek the assistance of the lawyers from Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC.