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Towards the end of a lease of a house, the glass in a sliding door was shattered and cost €300 to repair (which was paid by the landlord).

When the tenant was leaving, the landlord deducted the cost of the repair from the security deposit. The tenant disputed the deduction on the following grounds: The door was actually damaged by a neighbour during an argument / fight.

The landlord spoke with the neighbour's mother (the guy who allegedly broke the glass not being available at the time) who denied vehemently that the boy did it and supposed that the partner of the tenant did it in an act of rage (related to the argument but that's not really relevant), but promised to pay if the police (who had been called at the time) found that he did.

Now my question is, must the landlord return the deposit in full and seek payment by pursuing the matter with the police, or can they withhold the amount from the deposit and leave it up to the tenant to seek reparations from the neighbour in question?

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  • Was the neighbour invited in by the tenant (i.e. as a guest) or was he a trespasser?
    – Rick
    Jul 16 '21 at 17:10
  • @RockApe the fight took place in the front of the house. It's unclear whether they actually trespassed into the front garden or threw a stone (for example) from outside of the property.
    – colmde
    Jul 19 '21 at 7:54
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Under the Residental Tenancies Act of 2004, the landlord is obligated to carry out necessary repairs to both the structure and interior of the dwelling. The Act provides that this obligation (as with others) cannot be "varied, modified, or restricted" by a rental contract.

Meanwhile, the tenant is obligated to

not do any act that would cause a deterioration in the condition the dwelling was in at the commencement of the tenancy

(with "normal wear and tear" explicitly disclaimed from the tenant's responsibilities). The landlord is not obligated to repair damages caused by the tenant violating that obligation.

So the landlord is generally responsible for repairs (and, in fact, if the tenant had needed to arrange for the door to be repaired themself, they would have been able to deduct the cost from rent). If the tenant had broken the door, it would have been a breach of their responsibilities. But if a neighbor, or even the tenant's partner, had broken the door, it would not have violated the tenant's obligation and so the landlord would remain responsible for the repair.

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    The landlord may then recover this from the neighbour through small claims court. Jul 17 '21 at 8:08

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