Hello,I was renting an apartment, and when I moved out there was a small damage that I caused, which is small stain on a wall. The landlord took 11068 Kr from my deposit for this. She considers it cost for changing wallpaper for the entire room. She used as basis for this number a cost calculation by an insurance company. According to that calculation the wallpaper costs 7121 Kr. Whereas I found her exact same wallpaper in the store, it costs 1700 Kr for the entire room.Now, another factor to consider is the age. Her wallpaper is 15 years old, had rips in it, and already had a stain similar to the one I caused. The insurance company estimated age reduction is 80% for that room. So my questions:-Considering the original condition of the room, should I have been charged for this damage at all?-Is it fair that I pay for the entire room, or just the wall were the damage happened?-If I pay for the entire room, shouldn't I pay much less than 11068 Kr? Considering the actual price of her wallpaper in the stores, and considering age reduction.-Is it financially viable to hire a lawyer and take this to court?Other facts to consider:- The wallpaper has no pattern- It's an old non-renovated apartment- She was already attempting to sell that apartment
Hello, and thank you for contacting Lawline.
What law regulates the matter?
Although rights and obligations between landlords and tenants are generally regulated in the Land Code's 12th chapter (jordabalk 12 kap, a.k.a. hyreslagen), depositions in rental agreements aren't specifically regulated. The reason for this is that deposition agreements aren't, strictly judicially speaking, a part of the rental agreement. They rather function as a safety for claims originating from the rental agreement and the Land Code. The deposition is, in other words, a guarantee for the landlord that you as a tenant fulfill your obligations. It shall not be used for anything else. To answer your question, we must therefore first ask ourselves if any obligations of yours, stemming from either the Land Code's 12th chapter or your rental agreement, haven't been fulfilled. But before that a short summary of the landlord's obligations.
The landlord's obligations
Chapter 12 article 9and 15in the Land Code stipulates that the landlord shall keep the apartment is such a condition that it's fully useable for the intended purpose. The standard should be in accordance with the general understanding of such a condition in each specific area/place. Furthermore, the landlord shall with reasonable time intervals ensure that the apartment is wallpapered, painted and maintained through other customary reparations called for by age and wear. Normally the landlord should change the wallpapers every ten years or so. The landlord's responsibilities as stated in this section applies only if a worse, or a better standard, hasn't been included in the rental agreement.
Chapter 12 article 24 in the Land Codestipulates that the tenant shall take care of the apartment, spaces belonging to the apartment and common areas. It also states that the tenant is obligated to compensate all damage caused by his negligence or recklessness. According to the case law of the Swedish courts normal wear (normalt slitage) doesn't fall within the tenant's responsibility. Therefore, the tenant is not obligated to compensate certain minor damages caused by normal wear. Tear, stains and damages in the wallpaper can be considered normal wear. This applies mostly if the wallpaper isn't relatively new (keep in mind that the landlord is responsible for re-wallpapering within reasonable time intervals). The longer time since the last change of wallpaper, the more damages to the wallpaper is considered normal wear. If your rental agreement requires you to take a bigger responsibility and compensate even pure accidents or normal wear, that part of the agreement is invalid.
To summarize it's the landlord who answers for damages and imperfections caused by normal wear. Since the wallpaper you described in your question had been up for 15 years and had tears and stains in it, I would argue that the wallpaper was already due for a replacement – even before your contribution. Such a renovation falls, without a doubt, within the landlord's responsibility. If the wallpaper would've been new when the damage happened maybe it would be reasonable to withhold part of your deposition – but not otherwise. In my opinion you shouldn't have to pay for it. In the unlikely event that you would be found responsible for the wallpaper, the landlord still has an obligation to minimize her damages. To demand you to pay for such an expensive renovation, when the same standard could be accomplished for a much cheaper price, would be considered unreasonable by a court.
What to do next
A first step would be to contact the landlord and claim that the damage wallpaper fall within normal wear (normalt slitage), and that it's the landlord's responsibility to change the wallpaper within reasonable time intervals (here you could refer to chapter 12 article 15 of the Land Code). Every other ten years is customary, so the wallpaper in questions was long overdue and should've already been changed – especially since it was in bad condition.
If she admits that you are within your rights to get the deposition back, but doesn't pay, you can contact the Swedish Enforcement Agency (Kronofogden) and initiate an order to pay (betalningsföreläggande). Then the agency will send her an order to pay whereas she can either deny the claim or just pay it back. Such an order to pay is associated with certain authority, so many people choose to just pay. If she denies the claim, you are going to have to file an application for summons (stämningsansökan) if you want to take it to court.
When a conflict goes to court, and the value of the case falls below 23,650 kr, each part pays their own litigation costs no matter the outcome of the case (chapter 1 article 3d, in the code of judicial procedureand chapter 18 article 8a- except for a small number of cost items mentioned in the latter provision). When measuring the value of the case the litigation costs should not be accounted for, only what the original conflict is about is considered. Since your claim is worth 11,068 kr both you and your landlord are each going to have to pay for your own litigation costs.
I hope you're satisfied with the answer. Feel free to contact us again if you need further help.Måns Hellberg
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