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Does anyone rent property?

  1. Jul 11, 2005 #1
    Hi all

    Recently my roomates and I moved out of a duplex we rented. The security deposit was $2000. Our landlord said we did not clean the house at all (which is a huge lie) and charged us $1000, another $800 for removal of furniture (everyone says they took everything so no one knows what he is talking about), $125 to fix a cabinent because a screw broke in half on the hinge (isn't this normal wear and tear?), and $300 to "dump" the removed items out of the house. If you rent property, can this guy basically charge us whatever he wants for the items he listed? Is there anyway to get this deposit money back? What legal rights do we have? Evidently this guy has a history of being a sketchy character and basically stole the girls' deposit money who lived in the house before us as well.
     
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  3. Jul 11, 2005 #2

    Monique

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    That's bad, in the future meet with the person and walk around the apartment before you move out and come to an agreement as to what needs to be done. Write the agreement on a piece of paper and make him sign it, that way you have a firm legal foot.

    Also, if you can, don't pay the last month of rent (normally that is the same amount as the security deposit). That way you are in charge of giving the money or not.
     
  4. Jul 11, 2005 #3

    Monique

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    It is also important that before you start renting, you make an assessment of the flaws in the apartment and inform the one you are renting from. That way you don't have to pay for stuff that was already there when you moved in.

    In my apartment I had a crappy carpet with bleach stains. The person who was looking at the carpet when I moved out, did not know that the person who looked at the carpet when I moved in had told me it was not a problem, since the carpet would be replaced soon. For a slight moment I thought I would be in trouble for the stains, since I didn't have it on paper that the stains were already there.
     
  5. Jul 11, 2005 #4

    Pengwuino

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    He can if you never looked over the agreement and the agreement said nothing about it. Thats what contracts are for, whatever they say is the law as far as... the law is concerned haha. You could sue for it but thats probably going to be a waste of time and money and might as well torch his car for revenge :P
     
  6. Jul 11, 2005 #5
    I rent a small house, and in the contracts I have them sign, it says they need to do a walk through with me, with in 3 days after there last day there. I also have a pre-move in inexpection sheet, where they can list anything wrong befor they move in. It also says that anything that breaks durring there stay, should be reported to me ASAP for repairs.

    You should of done a walk through with the landlord. Or AT least videotaped/photo the empty apartment. You left yourself open for them to do this. If you refuse to pay, it will end up in court
     
  7. Jul 11, 2005 #6

    Pengwuino

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    haha conversely, dont pay! They wont waste their time in court just like you probably wouldnt wanna waste your time in court to sue them.
     
  8. Jul 11, 2005 #7

    Moonbear

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    Well, there are two sides to this. If nobody stayed for the walk-through inspection at the end, then you will have a hard time disputing any damages he is claiming he found during that walk-through. On the other hand, you can dispute how much he is charging for repairing the damage if it is unreasonable. For example, $250 to replace a screw is insane, as is $1000 to clean (you could probably hire a cleaning service for $50 or $100, maybe another $100 if it was carpeted and they needed to hire someone to clean the carpet).

    This is the sort of thing you can take to small claims court. I would suggest you contact him first, and notify him in writing of your dispute over the charges he's claiming, both in terms of things that you disagree you should be charged for, and the amount being charged for them. Let him know that if you can't come to an agreement with him, you'll be taking the claim to court...sometimes that motivates someone to come to an agreement. What you can do to support the claim that the charges are excessive is call a few cleaning companies and ask them what they would charge for such services (or if you get flyers advertising their services with fees, keep those) and show that even if your opinion of clean differed from the landlord's opinion of clean, there's no way it would cost $1000 to clean. Likewise, you'll have to get all your roommates to go to court together with you to each testify that nothing was left in the apartment. Who was the last one to leave and turn in the keys? That's the person who can best testify that the apartment was completely empty of all individual and common property when you left. Go to the hardware store and find out what a screw costs (less than $1; but get the actual cost); and I agree that's normal wear and tear. It sounds like this landlord is trying to rip you off for the entire security deposit. Sure, if you aren't there for the inspection, they can charge you for every hole in the wall and every spot on the carpet, but the charges need to be reasonable. Oh, if you take it to small claims, request he pay court costs if you win too.
     
  9. Jul 11, 2005 #8
    Thge landlord has no right to charge whatever...it has to be stated in teh contract.
    As for the mess and furniture stuff
    [1]whose the last person to move out?
    [2]did you take any pictures...

    we had a similar situation but it was for only cleaning te carpet.
     
  10. Jul 11, 2005 #9

    Astronuc

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    I managed a property for my father, and we never did anything like you described. The landlord seems to be behaving in a most unethical manner.

    There is such a thing as normal wear and tear in normal use.

    As a protection, given the prevalence of digital cameras, my advice to anyone who rents then vacates is - after the apartment or house is empty - document with pictures. Then if one encounters a situation like this - show the evidence. If a landlord still insists on keeping the deposit, go to court!

    Most states and local jurisdictions have tenants rights. Look into that.

    This kind of criminal behavior is unacceptable IMO!
     
  11. Jul 11, 2005 #10

    DaveC426913

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    He is totally rooking you. Make him show you receipts. Take him to court. You may not get all your money back, but you may at least be charged a reasonable amount.
     
  12. Jul 11, 2005 #11
    Thanks for all the info so far guys.

    I was smart enough to take pictures of the house before I left. I'm sure they will definitely be helpful in court. My roomate asked the landlord over the phone to do a walk through at the end and we left voice mails but he never "had time" or didn't return our messages. When we were living in the house he had the driveway torn up in November to get repaved. It didn't get repaved until march. The only furniture we left in the house was furniture that we sold to the new kids moving into the house. I definitely want to stick it to this guy. He does this because he knows that after the year is over, college kids move far away and most likely won't want to go through the hassle in small claims court. But I am still around and I will make this guy pay dearly--for instance the house he rents to students is not student approved so wouldn't he get a fine or something if I rat him out to the township?
     
  13. Jul 11, 2005 #12

    Astronuc

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    But you could look into the zoning in the area to see if he is renting to students (more than one family) in an area zoned for one family! If so, you can present as leverage to the landlord - or go to the appropriate authorities.
     
  14. Jul 11, 2005 #13

    Moonbear

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    Can you still contact the new tenants? 1) If the landlord is claiming he was throwing away stuff left in the apartment, did they get the furniture you sold to them? 2) If it was still there when they moved in, will they testify that it was indeed left in the apartment and not disposed? Or, 3) will the new tenants allow you inside to photograph it now that it has changed hands to determine if any of the work he claims to have done was actually done? I'd offer the new tenants that you'll make duplicates of any photos to give to them as proof of the condition of the apartment when they moved in in case they also have trouble with him at the end. They might appreciate you helping them out by giving them the heads-up about this landlord and agree to the photos. If you are allowed in to take photos, include a newspaper front page in the photo as documentation that you took the photo after the landlord claims to have fixed all that stuff.

    Good luck!
     
  15. Jul 11, 2005 #14
    wow you are full of good ideas
     
  16. Jul 11, 2005 #15
    Back when I lived in Minnesota I had a problem with a landlord, and found out there was an association of lawyers who did pro bono work in their free time advising tenants in these kinds of cases.

    You might want to check around and see if there is anything similar in your area; any kind of tenant's rights organization.
     
  17. Jul 11, 2005 #16

    Moonbear

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    Good idea. His university might be able to recommend someone too. I was fortunate not to have such run-ins with landlords, but friends and classmates of mine in college weren't so fortunate. There was a group of those pro-bono lawyers who held office hours on campus (something like one day a week) and gave free advice about tenant-landlord disputes for the students. I think most universities know there are always going to be bad landlords who try to take advantage of their students, so try to help the students find the resources they need.
     
  18. Jul 12, 2005 #17
    Most universities, as Moonbear has said, have departments who should be able to deal with this. Depending in what state or city you live in, there are laws about what a landlord can charge you for and there are usually safeguards in place. Unfortunately, for most students anyways, is that the strongest safeguards usually go into effect only after you have lived there for 2 years (at least in Wisconsin). My suggestion is to contact your school and see if they have a department or someone to advise and help you. If you can find a lawyer to take your case pro bono (most law firms require their lawyers to do a certain amount of pro bono work every year), this can be a very persuasive way of getting the bill down to a reasonable level. As soon as someone sees a lawyer is involved they know it is going to get complicated and they know it is going to cost money. You can also (sometimes) include the cost of your lawyer in your suit.
    Well good luck and don't let the slum lords win.
     
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