Landlord refuses to return deposit!
My husband and I recently moved out of our apartment into a house that we just purchased.
We never had a lease at the apartment, though the landlord often said he would have us sign one, he never did. When we first moved into the apartment, we found out that the landlord had JUST purchased it (maybe a week prior to us moving in) and he hadnt even bothered cleaning or making any repairs to the apartment. It hadnÂt been lived in for quite some time so it was very dirty and full of bugs and spiders. The faucet in the kitchen didnÂt work Â there was no hot water and it squirted everywhere. It took him a month to have it repaired. The ceiling in the upstairs 1/2 bath was caving in and it took him a month to have that repaired. The walls were damaged and dinged. The carpets were filthy. The ceiling panels in the bathroom are wet and starting to cave in. Also, we never received keys to the apartment. We received one key to the main stairwell, but since the landlord sometimes uses the stairwell (he lives in the apartment below ours) he asked us to keep it unlocked. The landlord also made a harassing entry into our apartment on the very first evening we lived there. I was showering, husband was out, and daughter was sleeping. All of a sudden, there was a loud banging at the door and he rushed into our apartment while I was in the bathroom, naked without any access to clothes, ranting about some minor leak downstairs. Granted, a leak can be an emergency Â but itÂs not good to go running into someoneÂs living space when they are naked and taking a shower! The landlord is never home either Â he is an over the road trucker so he is rarely around. This winter, the property was not adequately maintained. The sidewalks were dangerously icy and snow covered. Never once were we told that we needed to take care of any of the snow shoveling. When we first moved in, my husband actually offered to take care of the lawn for a discount off our rent and the landlord declined and said that his son would do it. It was so icy, that I didnÂt want to leave the house for fear that IÂd fall. I ended up having to buy special traction covers for my shoes. Needless to say, our landlord has not been the best.
Now, he has been telling our friend and neighbor that heÂs going to withhold some or all of our deposit because the carpets need steam cleaned and because itÂs "disgusting" up there. I have no idea what he's talking about! The apartment is SPOTLESS which is MUCH better than it was when we moved in. And we are planning on using our own carpet cleaner to clean the carpets before we leave. I did take before and after photos to prove that it was a mess. What else can I do? Our friend and neighbor said that our landlord told him that he (the landlord) is just irritated because now heÂll have to pay the full mortgage payment on the place and he doesnÂt have any potential renters. So IÂm sure heÂs just doing this out of spite. I just couldnÂt stand living there any more Â it was unsafe for my daughter and when the landlord was home, he threw loud parties and there were people banging on our door (thinking it was the door to the landlordÂs house) at 3 am! I just want my deposit back Â I think we deserve it. Our neighbor and friend asked the landlord why he doesn't want to give our deposit back and what problems he has had with us. The landlord said that the only problems he has had is that we're moving out - but we told him when we moved in that it was temporary until we bought a house. He also confided to our friend and neighbor that he didn't keep the deposit in a special account like landlords are supposed to, he deposited it into his own account and spent it! So he doesn't have the money! I just don't think we should have to pay for the cleaning of this apartment when we didn't get the same courtesy when we moved in.
I don't think it's really worth it to hire a lawyer - unless the landlord ends up paying for our attorney costs - because the deposit is only $400. It just really bothers me that the landlord would even THINK of keeping it. We were model tenants. Never noisy, always paid rent on time, never complained, always did as we were asked.
Any suggestions? Thanks!