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Third -Party Evaluation For Apartments?

  1. Sep 6, 2014 #1

    WWGD

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    Hi, I will be moving out of my apt. soon, and the leasing agent is already making all sorts of wild statement s about alleged damages (the reason I call them wild is that she has neither an engineering-related degree, nor has she entered my apt., and she is making causal statements ). Is there a standard third-party group (independent from both landlord and tenant) that conducts damage assessments, including causal ones, i.e., damage x is the result of y , or some other common method of addressing these disputes?
     
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  3. Sep 6, 2014 #2
    Your best bet is to contact whatever local tenant's rights organization you can find. This should be an organization that has a lot of legal knowledge and whose services are free. (Some lawyers advertise themselves with "Tenant's Rights" somewhere in the ad, but, of course, they charge.)
     
  4. Sep 6, 2014 #3

    WWGD

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    Thanks, I'll give that a shot.
     
  5. Sep 6, 2014 #4

    SteamKing

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    You should also review the provisions of your lease and see what your options are about resolution of any disputes with the owner of the property. If a lot of money is potentially involved, talk with an attorney experienced in housing law and tenant/landlord disputes.
     
  6. Sep 6, 2014 #5
    $$ $$ $$ $$ $$
     
  7. Sep 7, 2014 #6
    To a great extent you will have to deal with this on your own.

    Very carefully read the material in the link below and check out the links within it.

    http://howtosueyourlandlord.com/reasons-to-sue/security-deposits/

    There is a lot more in the link other than, "how to sue your landlord" as the URL would suggest.

    The landlord must give you an itemized list made from an inspection after you have moved out.

    Question how she arrived at the costs of repairs and do it in writing. Keep a copy of your letter.

    I can almost guarantee that flooring will be an issue.

    If the walls are white and you have made a lot of small holes to hang pictures white toothpaste works wonders in those small holes.

    The spackling below also works great.

    http://www.dap.com/product_details.aspx?BrandID=136&SubcatID=23
     
  8. Sep 7, 2014 #7

    WWGD

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    Thanks all. I guess I should have included the fact that I have been in the same place for seven years. That gives wear and tear plenty of time. It also implies that most appliances have less than half of their expected useful life left ;I guess similar for the flooring. I will check about hiring an expert --basically a handyman, I guess--though there may be some conflicts of interest if/when I ask him (most likely a him ) to testify on my behalf, given I am paying him to do so.
     
  9. Sep 7, 2014 #8

    SteamKing

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    It depends on what type of damage it is alleged you have caused to the property which should determine the type of person or professional you hire to help you. If it is electrical, hire a licensed electrician. If it is plumbing related, hire a licensed plumber. There are civil engineers you can hire who inspect buildings for foundation problems, roof damage, or other structural problems. That's what an insurance company would do if it had a property casualty claim it wanted to investigate.

    If it comes down to potential litigation, you don't want some 'handyman' to be your expert: you want someone with a license or professional credential to show to a judge that this individual is qualified and experienced to render an opinion.
     
  10. Sep 7, 2014 #9
    Wear and tear is to be expected after seven years.

    Wall to wall carpet is typically depreciated over a five year period by the landlord. In essence the landlord can claim a deduction of 1/5 of the value of the carpet each year. This amount is deducted from the rental income for tax purposes saving her money.

    http://homeguides.sfgate.com/flooring-depreciated-rental-64455.html

    Depreciation of appliances are on the same five year life expectancy. If your landlord has filed her rental income taxes properly she has already taken the total value of the appliances as a deduction from her rental income over the past five years.

    http://www.easyrentaltools.com/index.cfm?event=article&title=appliance-depreciation

    Landlord/tenant laws vary by state. Click on your state in the link below.

    http://www.rentlaw.com/statelist.htm [Broken]

    After seven years you have paid the landlord a lot of money. few people stay that long. This is actually to your advantage. You should not be charged for repainting. Paint will naturally be faded after 7 years.

    If the landlord should sue you it will be in small claims court; small claims court is much less formal than regular court. DO show up at small claims court or you lose by default. If the amount is significant you might want to find a paralegal to represent you.

    Counter claim everything the landlord tries to charge you for. At worst you only owe for the remaining useful life of any carpeting or appliance. Demand to see the original price of the supposedly damaged items.

    I think that the "talk" you hear from her may just be a scare tactic, or she is a very inexperienced landlord.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  11. Sep 7, 2014 #10

    WWGD

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    Thanks, Edward, very helpful!

    Just a general question: is it the case in most states that landlords--as plaintiffs--have the burden of proof; not just in showing that damages occurred, but that they were caused by the tenant? I caught my super, who claimed my stove was new when I moved in : I asked him whether he provided new appliances for every move-in tenant. He said no, and then I asked him how he knew my own stove was new? Good idea, Edward, I will be asking for receipts for all appliances the landlord claims damages for.
     
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2014
  12. Sep 7, 2014 #11
    The stove isn't new now and I doubt that he remembers 7 years back. It may have been three years old when you moved in and he just remembers a new stove went in that apartment at some point.

    Landlords usually take pictures of the damage. Take you own pictures. That way you know the picture is of your stove for instance. They can take a picture of any stove and say it is yours.

    Temporarily put a piece of blue masking tape on the items in your pictures. The landlord should walk through after you have moved out and make a list. You should try to be their. If the place is big enough to have a super they probably have a lot of experience.

    Don't be intimidated they do have to obey your states laws. Some cities have their own landlord/tenant laws. Check your state laws at the kink above.

    If you have truly caused the damage you have the benefit of not damaging anything new. Since you have been there so long these items are not worth new value. They are only worth the remaining useful life value.
     
  13. Sep 7, 2014 #12

    WWGD

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    Thanks again, Edward, I think owe you a portion of what I get back from the deposit. I did have a small accidental fire in the oven--self-contained, there was no need to call the fire dept.--but nothing else.
     
  14. Sep 7, 2014 #13

    SteamKing

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    In the US legal system, the plaintiff (the party filing the suit) has the burden of proving his claimed cause of action as described in the complaint. If the plaintiff cannot meet this burden, he loses on the merits, or the case gets thrown out of court. If the matter goes to trial, the plaintiff is allowed to present his case, followed by the defendant. The plaintiff is often given a second opportunity to rebut the defense's case before a judgement is rendered.

    For a fuller description of the process from start to finish, check out this article:

    http://www.stoel.com/how-does-a-lawsuit-work-basic-steps-in
     
  15. Sep 8, 2014 #14
    I think this issue will go to a small claims court if it goes anywhere. Small claims courts are much less formal than a typical civil law suit. WWGD definitely look up your local county small claims division. Know how they work and have all of your paperwork in hand, because not all jurisdictions are the same.
     
  16. Sep 8, 2014 #15

    SteamKing

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    The basic rules of civil procedure still apply in SC court, even though the court procedure may be informal. The plaintiff must still prove his case to the judge or the case either gets thrown out or a verdict is rendered in favor of the defendant.
     
  17. Sep 8, 2014 #16
    You are definitely right about that, I just meant that both parties get a little more wiggle room (for lack of a better term) in proving their points.
     
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