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Tenant/Landord Legal Question. Please Help!

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posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 10:58 AM
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OK this is a question but I am posting it in the Rant section because I have rarely been this angry with a person and I will most likely go off here. So.....

I live in CA and resided in a rental home for just shy of 3 years. The house was only 700 sq ft and with the expansion of my family we needed to move on to a bigger location. This is an older house and is managed by an agency that does business for the landlord so i have never spoken to or met the actual owner of the property. In either case we were asked to put down a heafty $3200 security deposit on the place plus first months rent of $1590. I know, crazy but we did it because we loved the neiborhood and we were doing well at the time.

Fast forward to present day. We moved out and after about 3 weeks we recieved what they are calling a "good faith estimate" in the mail with a check for what they felt i was owed back from the deposit amounting to $948 dollars and some cents. In the estimate they detailed that i was to pay around $700 to repaint the house, another $700+ to recarpet and refloor the entire house and then another 250 or so to "seel the subfloors from pet urin". Other expences range from $110 for light socket repairs to $180 for 5 new screens and other overpriced misc items.

I called and spoke with a lady that works with the company and she told me she would have to call me back in a little while. When she did she told me her computers all went down but she could call me back the following Monday with all of the information. Monday came and she told me someone esle was handling my case now and she would not be in untill Wednesday.

Wednesday came and this lady (i use the term loosly) tells me how she was never in the house, but how awful of a mess we left the place in and she didnt think that she could do much but once the workers were all done she would call me back. I informed her at the time that I didnt think i should have to pay for almost any of these charges but did concede a few items in which i did leave in disrepair (i accidentally scratched the lenolium floor on move in and agreed to replace that and one of my dogs did break 1 screen) and for a final cleaning charge of $125 even though we cleaned and shampood the carpets before we left. I told her that because i lived in the house for almost 3 years i do not feel liable for a repaint based on all the research i have done and the same for the carpets. I also told her that i do not think i should have to pay to coat the subfloors because my cat used her litter box but in an effor to work with her i agreed to replace the carpet, foam and coat the subfloor in the room that the box was in which was 70sq ft.

All together i said i would pay a total of $770 for some paint, some carpet and some repair and cleaning although i still do not feel i should be charged even half of that, i just want to end this already.

She then called me yesterday and said i am refusing to meet in the middle with her and so far i have only agreed to pay for items in which i conceeded i left in disrepair. I told her i felt i was being generous and that the purpouse of my deposit was to pay for items that i left in such a manner. This conversation was long and got pretty ugly. She told me she would call in 2 more weeks when the final billing was in and let me know if they could work with me but did tell me that there was no way i was going to see a check for what i was expecting.

Her main argument is that they have a 5 year life span on paint and flooring although this is never specified in my lease agreement. my research tells me that after 2 years a tenant is not resposible for ANY paint or carpet replacement, even though the condition of the house when we left it did not constitute this to be done in my opinion. I also informed her that i read i had a legal right to a walkthrough before leaving and was never offered this and she told me it did not matter and the person they would have sent would have just told me that they could not do it untill i had all of my belonging out.

I just dont know what to do at this point. We are both loosing sleep out of frustration over this situation and the woman is soooooo rude on the phone that it is almost impossible to get anywhere with her.

I am trying to aviod going to court but it looks like it will be my only option left. Does anyone know if i have a leg to stand on with these people? It has been over a month and a half of this and I am at my wits end. That money is soarly needed now but i am loosing hope of seeing any of it back. Should i take them to court and risk not getting any of it back or should i make a deal beyond that of which i have already made? I just dont know what to do. HELP!




posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:07 AM
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wow you are in deep here. Did you take before and after pictures? especially after the house was empty. As for the paint there is a thing called normal wer and tear, after living in a rental for 1 year plus you are not liable for the paint, but the carpet or any wall damage, is on you unloess you took pictures when you moved out. If you feel you are right you need to file to go to court about this before they file, whoever brings the case to court usually wins. You will need non family with you to verify how you left the house, reputable people. they can only charge for structual damage and then the courts will consider hwo long you lived in the home. good luck to you and I hope you win, again you file before they file.

they can charge a reasonable fee to clean which is higher then if you yourself had hired someone to clean the home. for future reference always fill in the move in list check every nook and cranny, list every tear or stain list ripples everything. also pictures take pictures.
edit on 17-11-2011 by lbndhr because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:10 AM
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reply to post by TheInterceptor
 


Sadly, your rights depend entirely on when you live. I have no clue how it works in the US, but here in Canada when renting, even privately, you immediately have certain rights. One of which is they MUST be with YOU when doing an inspection walk through. One of the other rights is damage, now things are usually specified in your lease and if you agreed to any terms in there, you are out of luck (unless they are illegal). When dealing with damages the renter has to get estimates from a few sources for the repair (the rentee can also get estimates) and the middle estimate is usually the one they go with.

Here in my province most buildings tell you that after 3 years they will repaint regardless, and after 5 years (3 with pets) they replace carpets.

It does indeed sound like you are being taken to lunch. Where I live I would take this to the "rentals man", essentially a government regulation office for this stuff. In the event of a dispute like this, the rentalsman would probably get involved with inspection and repair estimates.

With one of the slum lords I dealt with who refused to do repairs, we had to go to the rentalsman and they had us pay our rent cheque to them, and paid for the repairs from that. As well, the renter was legally obligated to pass the "damage deposit" over to the rentalsmans office to avoid this exact situation.

Beyond that, where I live, it's actually illegal for them to require first and last months rent. They can only ask for a damage deposit (which conveniently ends up being 2 months rent)

If there is legal advice you can contact for free I'd seek it to get educated on your rights. Find out if there is a government agency that over sees this, even local.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:11 AM
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I have nothing nice to say, the home owner and this company are both making money off you renting, its not like they are breaking even this is profit, so the minimal damage to the floors walls and carpets should be understood as part of their overhead. I cant believe they are pulling this. In my apartment it was the same, after 2 years they cant say squat. I



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:19 AM
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What was the condition of the listed items before moving in? The burden of proof should lay with the landlord. What is California law regarding wear and tear? In Ohio, you can't withhold deposit or demand that they pay for normal wear and tear. Things get old, it's not your fault.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:19 AM
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reply to post by lbndhr
 


I do have pictures of each room. There as no real damage that was left unfixed with the exception of a broken light socket cover plate and a screen in a window. i even patched all the little holes from nails that were holding pictures on the walls. I also conceded to pay for repair of a back door that my dogs scratch at but they want me to pay $255 to replace the door instead of sanding and repainting it.

I have lived in a lot of places in a few different states. Sometime it was a typical party house and i have never been hit this hard. I lived in this house with my wife and son, rarely had more that 1 or 2 people over except thanksgiving and christmas and almost never had a real party. when we did it was always in the back yard.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:21 AM
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That is BS man! You do not have to pay for any of that stuff, but it is quite honest and nice of you to even replace the screen and carpet. Sounds like your dealing with a pretty rude and dumb person here. If I were you I would continue my research and tell her like it is. If all else fails just hire a lawyer and get him to write her a letter saying you will take her and the company to court over these matters. Hopefully that'll scare them off =) If not then I hope you win in court!



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:22 AM
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reply to post by satron
 


Everything i have read says that normal wear and tear is the responsibility of the landlord but this woman is saying that i left the place so bad that it goes beyond that. I am hoping someone here went through something similar and my have some advice to me if i stand a chance in court.

I have read that if the "good faith estimate" is not reasonable that i may be entiteld to my full deposit back plus penalties.

This company is telling me that the laws does not say 2 years for paint and carpet that it is 5 years but will not tell me where they are getting this information from. She said "im not going to do your legal homework for you"



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:24 AM
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reply to post by Quoop
 


I have called a few lawyers but have only been able to leave messages with no return calls yet. I am going to call some today too. I just hate having it come to this.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:26 AM
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If they want to go to court, let them know that you intend to counter sue for the court costs, and any lost time from work. I'm betting you have a good case, since you have pictures. Most of the damage you've stated sounds superfical, and switch covers are cheap and I've built window screens, for $20 I could build half a dozen.

EDIT: You just have a cheap landlord that is trying to take advantage of you, I bet she'll drop it once you provide a counter claim. I bet you even get some of your deposit back. The judge will sympathize with you once he hears the story.
edit on 17-11-2011 by satron because: (no reason given)

edit on 17-11-2011 by satron because: (no reason given)



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:33 AM
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Unfortunately you are responsible for any damages in the rental home.
If the paint isn't damaged you wont have to pay for that unless it is stated in your lease.
Sounds like you are going to end up in court to me.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:49 AM
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reply to post by TheInterceptor
 


All I can say about this is...
get a real estate lawyer,now!



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 11:55 AM
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You paid a 3200 dollar security deposit. That should cover all damages. Period.
That is the purpose of a security deposit,
Did you get that back? Or did they keep it?
If i were you, i would be snapping to be honest, especially if i left the place in decent order. You should only be liable for the damage done. Carpets and paint don't count.

But i live somewhere different, i dont know the laws there.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 12:00 PM
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reply to post by AzureSky
 


I only recieved $948 dollars back. The rest is being held against these "damages".



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 12:04 PM
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Originally posted by TheInterceptor
reply to post by AzureSky
 


I only recieved $948 dollars back. The rest is being held against these "damages".


Then you should not have to pay out anything at all for the damages other than the damage deposit, Not out of your pocket anyways.

Or am i misunderstanding this and its about getting more of the deposit back? Carpets are natural wear and tear, and shouldn't be covered by you. Same with paint. If you did no damages, next time she calls i suggest threatening a lawyer, because it seems to me like they're trying to suck as much as they can out of you.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 12:14 PM
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If you have good pictures, you should be ok. However, there should always be a walk through before you move in (while you are taking pictures). Every renter should document EVERY interaction they have with the landlord. Make notes describing phone conversations, save emails and texts.
If you pay to fix anything yourself, always have pictures and reciepts.

If you are well documented, you have a shot at getting your money back. If not, you have no shot. It becomes he said/she said and the landlord will win in court.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 12:21 PM
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Originally posted by radosta
If you have good pictures, you should be ok. However, there should always be a walk through before you move in (while you are taking pictures). Every renter should document EVERY interaction they have with the landlord. Make notes describing phone conversations, save emails and texts.
If you pay to fix anything yourself, always have pictures and reciepts.

If you are well documented, you have a shot at getting your money back. If not, you have no shot. It becomes he said/she said and the landlord will win in court.


If they never offered a walk in during or after the residency there, then the rental company cannot charge him because they have -no- record of the condition of the house, before or after. Thus they cannot determine if it was like that before or after.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 12:32 PM
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This whole thing begs for documentation, including pictures. The party with the best documentation will win this one. You can bet that the company will have the documentation showing their repairs. The thing is, they don't have a "home handyman" mindset. They likely hired a professional and expensive electrician to fix a socket that you or I would have purchased at Home Depot and installed ourselves.

The places where you may win points are things like the repaint. Unless you've been playing paintball in the house you certainly should not have to pay for a repaint even if they did it and documented it. Sounds like you are on the right track with your research there.

But there are some negatives you will have to concede and deal with. First, you admit to leaving the house with damage. If you had sanded and painted the door yourself, you wouldn't be faced with their ability to hold up a piece of paper detailing the fix and saying, "See? This is what we had to put up with!" You could have replaced the light socket yourself. And though you plugged up your nail holes, look at it from the landlord's point of view. They are faced with a wall pockmarked with little dots of spackle all over them. "We had no choice but to repaint because the walls looked terrible and there was no touch-up paint!"

And there are your animals. At least two dogs and at least one cat. I've had 4 cats and a dog at once, so I know the kind of damage they can do. Even if they are "trained" they have accidents and after awhile you won't even know because your nose gets used to the ambient smells. Take a blacklight and move it around your carpet and you will be amazed. My dog cuts corners and rubs against the wall leaving dirt up to his full height. There's another case for repainting.

Look, I'm not trying to anger you or blame you. I'm just trying to alert you to what you'll be facing, what the other party is going to be presenting to counter your claim here. They are going to be standing up and saying this:

"Your Honor, this guy lived three years in this 700 square foot house with several dogs and cats running wild inside. We had to seal the floors against the terrible urine smell. He left broken doors, broken screens, even a broken light socket. He left the house in a mess and we had to clean it up. It took a good long while to get competent repairmen in to do the work, and meanwhile the house sat empty and unrented. Yeah, we did use the majority of his deposit. We needed to, and we even gave some of it back. But this is a renter from Hell. He should pay court costs here, not us! Given that the house was unrented while we fixed it, we've already lost money."

I think your way out here is if they did anything procedurally incorrect. You didn't get that walkthrough? That's one big thing. If they in any way violated any provisions of the California landlord-tenant act, you could nail them on that, too. But given what you've done, engaging in a "he said, she said" argument over the extent of the damages is probably not going to work.

A lot of people will get on here and commiserate with you and say, "You go, brother! Get those capitalist pigs!" and that's exactly what you do not need. That's not how it works and that's not helpful. I hope I have provided a realistic scenario here for how this might play out and also given you some tips on how to counter some of the issues. Good luck. Tell us how it turns out.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 12:36 PM
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reply to post by AzureSky
 


They never did offer me the walkthrough and i did point that out to her in every phone conversation. I am constantly told that it does not matter because its just a formality and he would have just said he cannot do a walkthrough unless every item is out of the house. I told her I would have been prepared to do that since the house was vacant for 9 days before my lease was up and she said i do not get to make the appointment for the walkthrough and i could have happend any day up to 2 weeks prior to my leaving. she then said that even if i did have someone do this with me and they made a list someone else comes in after and does the final inspection without me and he could make a new list of items not discussed prior to that.

Since posting this i have called a few lawyers but have not been able to speak with anyone as of yet.



posted on Nov, 17 2011 @ 12:43 PM
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reply to post by schuyler
 


Thank you. This was helpfull. I do understand that they have the upperhand and the way they are playing this I feel lost. I am eagerly awaiting to speak with an attorney about it to see if it is worth going to court over based on all of what I have.



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