Housing Damage

Condition of the House

The majority of owners stipulate in their contracts that the apartment or house must be returned to them in the original condition – meaning, essentially unchanged from the beginning of the lease. If the apartment or house is brand new or if the carpet, wall paper or paint was new when you moved in, you will be responsible for any stains, marks, scratches, nicks, etc. No consideration of the high rent paid over two or three years is given when damage is assessed.

Lease Start Inspection

Although the landlord will allow normal wear and tear, the definition of “normal” is not universal and consistent. In order to avoid expensive repair or replacement costs, you should be sure to keep on file a record of all existing marks, stains or scratches found at the time of the lease start inspection. This is probably the best way to establish whether you are responsible for damage, or whether it pre-existed your tenancy.

Repair Costs

If it is determined that damage is present, the cost to repair the damage will be invoiced to your company. Many companies hold their employee responsible for all or part of these repair costs and will ask for reimbursement. In Japan the charge for repairing damaged carpets, wallpaper, lost keys, or re-painting woodwork can run into thousands of U.S. dollars. All in all, housing damage can be a sensitive issue and difficult situations may arise regarding the return of the deposit.

Cost Calculation

The general format for calculating repair costs is based on a 6 year depreciable life of carpeting and wallpaper. For example, if there was new carpeting when the tenant moved in, and the tenant lived there for 3 years after which the carpet had to be replaced, the tenant would be responsible for 50% (3 divided by 6) of the replacement costs. Breakage of windows, etc., are not calculated by this formula and full replacement cost is the tenant’s responsibility.

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