Moving - Opinions on SD Return, Etc

desperaterenterApril 19, 2009

I'm finally moving out from under the Elephant People, as soon as my temp assignment ends in June. Do I have a new place lined up? No, and I'm moving out of state to boot. Do I know how it'll happen or how to afford it when it does? Nope, not a clue. Security has taken a backseat to sanity. I'll live in a tree to get away from them.

Anyway, I'd like some advice on the following, even if a poster only wants to comment on one part of my long, euphoric post. :o) First, the damage to my apartment. In December, I had two pipes burst, and the guy had to cut a huge hole in the drywall in my kitchen. We concluded that it probably got too cold on that side because they switched to monitor heat a few years ago, and the heater is all the way across the apartment. So they were going to wait out the cold weather and put a vent in the wall so it wouldn't happen again (rather than re-drywall). Of course, that never happened, just like they never painted over the brown water stains from when Elephant Man's terrace leaked onto my ceiling and walls, or fixed the blistered paint from when their terrace leaked onto my window frame.

Anyhoo, I'm naive enough to believe they won't blame me for those things, but I'm wondering about the spackling I've done. They paint every time someone new moves in. Now, there were several dents in my wall when I got here that had obviously been there a while, as they were all painted over. I felt like being useful and spackled them up. Now I'm wondering if I should buy a small can of paint and dab some on. I can't imagine why they'd try to deduct from my deposit for paint when they're going to paint anyway . . . but I've heard worse stories here on the boards.

My father says they expect nail holes and whatnot (I've only ever used Hercules Hooks, the best thing since sliced bread, and I'll be spackling those, too), and they'll probably be thrilled to not need to spackle themselves. I'd hate to buy even a $15 can of paint for nothing . . . opinions? Moonshadow?

Should I mention in my "quitting these premises" letter that I'm moving due to the noise? I don't want to tick them off and risk a bad reference, but they have a right to know why they keep losing tenants, don't they?

Also, every landlord I've ever had, I needed to push and shove to get them to do the final inspection with me present. Isn't that standard?

I'm sick of this happening all the time, so I'd like to know how to combat it. Whenever I move in somewhere, there are things I don't think to note on the damage report because I either don't notice (sometimes you don't notice scratches on the tile until you go to scrub it, for example), or because it seems incredibly nitpicky. Then when I've lived with it a while, it seems really noticeable. Is it appropriate to send a letter soon after signing the damage report indicating that there's some minor damage to such-and-such that you didn't see right away, or are you kind of out of luck?

Furthermore, for the final few days or however long I'm still the tenant but with all my stuff moved out, I'm willing to hire noisy children, anyone who plays drums or sings opera, or even someone who's just willing to lie on the floor and kick the wall for a few hours to come over and . . . well, say goodbye to the Elephant People for me. :o)

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Well hello desperate, congrats on getting away from the Elephant People ;-)

(A side note, I typed this about 4:30 a.m. after a sleepless night. Just finished up, too tired to proofread now, hope it's coherent.)

So, no doubt you want your Sec Dep $ back + a good reference.
As far as damage from burst pipes and leaks from EP's terrace, it would be a very big stretch for LL to attempt hold you responsible for that. LL would have to be able to prove (if it went that far) in court that you burst the pipes and caused the terrace leaks from above. Not likely! If you are even remotely worried you will be blamed for it, take photos (many) as is, right now.

Don't know as I ever knew what State you lived in, but many States require a written, detailed accounting by LL of any Security Dep funds to be given to tenant in certain time period (30 days post move out is generally typical). If not done according to state's stipulations, in many cases it's then a forfeit by LL and all $ goes back to the tenant. BUT, there's a catch that tenants often miss. In many states tenant must provide LL with a forwarding address, often in writing within xx days of notice or lease expiration. In my state, if tenant fails to do so LL is not liable for returning any SD $. (But tenants don't know that law and I'm not so tightly wound that I hold them to it. ;) Haven't seen too many states in my googles for this forum that permit sending to 'last known address' (a.k.a. unit in question address). Worth a google of your State's laws to get specifics about SD returns. *Just make sure if you're required to provide a forwarding address in writing that you cover that part via Certified mail.* (If you don't have an address within time period, offer a trusted relative or friend's where the $ can go.

RE: spackling/painting. Again, I'd refer to your state laws. In my state I cannot charge a tenant for routine painting on move out. Spackling is a nice gesture and one I'd appreciate! Providing it's done correctly using real spackle (she said in a wry tone). I've had tenants stuff blobs of caulk in dings or nail holes. I'm not thrilled with that, ends up with little sink holes in the walls once the caulk dries and shrinks. If you were to buy paint, you'd have to get an exact color + sheen match and even at that it's still going to look different because paint color morphs as it ages, sometimes fading. So your new little painted spots will be pronounced if they're big enough. I'd suggest just doing the spackling. A couple tips: buy the little tub of spackle that dries white, not pink. (Had a tenant use the pink dry stuff once, it looked like Dr. Seuss' place when done.) For picture-size nail holes just take your finger, dab in the pot of spackle, make a quick swipe over the nail hole. For larger areas grab a wallpaper sponge (inexpensive big 3" thick ones that don't flake). Dampen sponge, wring out all water. Apply the spackle with putty knife, wipe gently once or twice in different directions with the sponge held flush on the wall. Voila, it's done. Nice and level, no excess beyond the hole, no sanding needed. Any scuff marks I'd take a Mr Clean Magic Eraser and get those off. Presentation counts. But in a nutshell, I'm with your dad. ;-)

I get that EP have driven you out of your gourd and you'd sooner live in a tree. But I wouldn't recommend putting that in your official notice letter. (As long as you're giving required time period, no reason is needed.) I'm encouraging you to hold off at least till you get your SD $ back. Don't know what kind of folks you're dealing with as far as LL, but probably best not to put them on the offense, at least till you get your $ back. (Just in case they're the nitpicky type that will nickle & dime you on stuff.) Once you get your $$, you can always send a follow up note that keeps it friendly (for future good referral) but at the same time lets them know how you feel. e.g. 'Just wanted to let you know I received your check. I really enjoyed my apartment but regrettably couldn't tolerate the noise from upstairs any longer...' (IOW, giving a negative by itself, there's the possibility they'll get defensive and bristle as humans do. Give a compliment with the negative, and they might think harder about losing good tenants to that deal upstairs.

Final inspection: push and shove if that's what it takes, especially if you have any doubts.

About moving into a new place and seeing damage. I see no harm whatsoever it dropping a friendly note to new LL. Funny you should mention tile scratches (well, not funny for me when I found it). Had a situation where tenant was great. But once out, furnishings out, all kinds of things were found. Bad things that tenant's belongings hid. I ended up with a list a page long, much of it requiring big $ if I were to replace. One of them was multiple short but deep scratches all over wall tile in a spot where no heavy objects came in contact (such as an appliance moved or bumped against it). Only caught in certain light up close. Dang, it had to take some effort to make those gouges! In the middle of the wall, it will darken over time, and look bad, and redoing the tile is going to be a real PIA and costly (their SD didn't cover all I found). So if you see things like that when you're first in, do note it! If you cover yourself early, you're not stuck with the bill. ;)

That's about my two pennies worth.
Got a good LOL out of your last paragraph ;-)
Hope you can find a place that has no EPeeps!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 7:59PM
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Thanks, Moonshadow. I knew you'd respond. :o)

The biggest dent was about the size of a silver dollar, and I did use the white spackle. So once they paint over it, it'll look like new. I guess I was afraid they'd try to say I made a hole and then covered it up, because those dents were one of the things I didn't notice when I did the original damage report. But if it's all fixed for them, I can't imagine there'd be a problem. And yes, I used real spackle, not grout. :o) People are idiots.

Pictures will be taken. I'll have to thank my mother for the digital camera . . . if she ever deigns to speak to me again, that is! (One of the three reasons I decided to move clear out of the state).

I had to send another certified letter about the EP today, because yesterday morning, their children were stomping and . . . falling down, or leaping off furniture, or whatever . . . so hard that the glass dome over my hallway light broke and fell to the floor. It's one of those that's held in place by arched metal prongs, and you pull straight down to get it off. There's a big chunk missing out of the side, starting at the open rim, so I'm guessing their crashing made it hit the prong the wrong way. So, as I said in my letter, we've gone beyond making the light fixtures rattle; now one broke.

I don't think the letter was snippy by any means, but I said that while I realize the noise won't be stopping at this point, I wanted them to be aware why there's only a bare bulb when I do eventually move.

I'll take your advice about the final letter. I don't think there will be any problems. Luckily, it's a property management company, not an individual landlord, and they have so many tenants that they don't remember individuals. But I'm seriously going to do some wall pounding right at the end. I don't think I'd ever get over it if I missed that opportunity. :o)

When I spoke with the office manager about the noise a couple months ago, she said she'd hate to lose a good tenant. I thought she was BSing me, because other than pay my rent on time, I didn't think I'd done anything exemplary. But my father laughed at me when I said that; apparently paying your rent is exemplary, for some. Also, when the pipe burst, I recognized the noise right away (odd, since I've never had it happen before) and went straight for the main water shutoff. The maintenance guy was impressed - he told me he goes out on calls where the tenant couldn't tell the monitor heater from the hot water heater, and he expected to arrive to a flood - and apparently he made a note in my file about it. I'm thinking I'll ask if they'd mind typing up a short letter of reference that I can take to CT (I'm in ME, but not for long!) I know landlords down there will be calling, but having a letter in hand can't hurt.

I'm thinking that when I get down there, I'll stay in one of those motels with weekly rates until I can hunt down a real apartment. I hope I can find one that'll take my cat. My friend down there (in CT) would watch her for me temporarily if I provided food . . . but she has six cats, and mine is really shy. I know why LLs typically don't like pets; they can't know that I take care of mine religiously. Plus, she's indoor, so no fleas or ticks.

Bottom line is, I don't think there's a combination of circumstances that could possibly make me be a landlord. My blood pressure is already through the roof, thanks very much.

Thanks for responding; I'm just trying to think positive about everything. Now to finish making my Benihana rice . . .

    Bookmark   April 20, 2009 at 8:40PM
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I'm late getting back, but you're welcome ;)
Hey, give yourself a pat for catching that burst pipe, no doubt that got you mega brownie points! (It would have with me, agree with maintenance guy, and good for him for noting in writing your swift thinking!)

I'd like to know how things turn out for you, best wishes for finding some peace and quiet. ;)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 8:28AM
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