Keeping my deposit

mrsvandendriesJune 10, 2013

Hi y'all,
We recently moved out of a rental property we had been in for a year. We should have broken the lease ages ago due to the owner not taking care of health and safety issues (roach infestation and pigeon nests that were causing infestation of other insects) but we shelled out the cash to correct it after she said no (we had a 1 year old and it HAD to be done, I've never lived in such a situation before). So now, a year later, I find that my security deposit has been kept and spent 35 days after I handed over the keys. I had to ask for my money, only to be told I wasn't getting it. Here are the reasons they state:
1. I patched the (VERY SMALL, FEW) holes we made in the wall. A few in each room. There are large areas of spackle areound the house that the homeowners handymen never painted over, and I have photo documentation of it. They say that I have to pay for the touch up painting to be done.
2. the water outlet for the washer began leaking when we removed our washer. I notified the property manager as soon as I saw the leak (a few hours later) He did nothing to correct it, so I had to turn the water to the house off. It stayed off until the day i turned my keys over, which is the same day the cleaning crew and carpet cleaners came. I let the property manager know about it again that day and did my best to contain the leak (and I did a damn good job of it) but he says the baseboards were damaged because of it and that its my fault (my walk thru reported TONS of baseboard damage all over the house) so I'm being charged for new baseboards, and painting them.
3. the owner has a security system. We chose not to use it. we never activated it. We acutally never even touched it because we didn't know how to work it. Sometime in the last year, the circuit board on the system fried. We never knew. No smell, no fire, no nothing. I'm being charged 300$ for that.
4. Lastly, we arebeing charged for pet stains on the carpet. Back in the fall when we turned the heat on, we began to notice a heavy pet odor in our bedroom. It came from under the sofa in our room. We called the property manager after we moved the sofa and pulled up the edge of the carpet and found that the carpet was covered in pet stains. We told him It had to be remedied and the owner refused. I photographed it all. No stains visible on the surface of the carpet, but thick yellow ones underneath. We told him if she wouldn't pay, we were going to pull up the pad, throw it out, thouroughly clean the carpet ourselves and replace the pad. he told us that was fine. Now he's taken 600$ to replace that carpet.

So, this is the quick backstory. Owner of the home could not afford to live in the home. she moved into her RV. She has a very sordid history including involvement with the drug cartel here in El Paso (we found out well after we moved in.) She was supposed to replace the carpet before we moved in. At the lease signing, I inquired to make sure the carpet had been done and was told by the property manager that it had. sign the lease, get the keys, no new carpet (the carpet was in sad shape)
I feel like she is trying to use MY money to jazz up her house for sale.

I'm doing all the research I can, but we are just a month away from being transferred out of state by the military.

After a walk thru is done with an owner after a tenant moves out, is there a procedure or time limit that protects tenants from damage that can be caused by the owner after the fact? For example, I had 48 hours to do my walk thru inspection, after that, anything that happened could be pinned on me. Is there a same time frame for owners?

Anything that any of you can advise me on would be most appreciated.

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Don't give this landlord anymore money. I hope you kept receipts of what you've given her already.

I'd call the city and tell them she is living in an RV. Tell the she refuses to make repairs on her units and thinks they are too filthy to live in herself.

Hopefully they will send over a building inspector and find numerous code violations that she will have to fix.

Let her take you to court (bet she won't want to go$) Use those pics you took to show the judge what it looked like. Tell him/her you and your hubby are military and don't keep your dwelling in such disrepair.

Are you able to access the court docket for this city this is in? Put the name of the owner/managing co in there and see if others have taken her to court for similar actions. You might learn something from these. Perhaps even be able to speak to others who have sued. Ask what she accused them of and see what they say about how it turned out.

Last but not least, ask other tenants if they are having (or have had) the same issue and ask if they would be willing to speak up about it in court (witness).

I did this for a neighbor once. Showed up in court, gave my version and he fined the landlord. Nobody paid me. It was my civic duty to stand up for injustice. Just like your husband is paid to do for his service in the military.

Best of luck to you and thanks to your hubby for his service.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2013 at 8:06AM
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Google [yourstate] landlord/tenant law to find out exactly what your state allows the landlord to hold your security deposit for. Things like the walkthrough inspection and time limits should also be covered by state law.

Most of what you are describing sounds like existing damage--the pet stains on the carpet (unless you had a pet) or normal wear and tear--the security system (even though you didn't use it, electronic things break-it's not like you took a sledge hammer to the circuit board.) If the security system needed to be used to prevent the board from frying, the owner needs to tell you that.

I'd send a registered letter that the owner has to sign for, demanding, nicely, proof that all this damage was caused by you. Cite the relevant sections/paragraphs of state law. Ask nicely for your money back. See what happens.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2013 at 11:43AM
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