So we sold our house and rented a dump.........

stephpiJuly 11, 2012

I need some advice! We sold our house and while we are building our new house(5 months) we needed a rental house. We didn't have much time and I found one that would work.I knew the carpets were dirty, I did ask him if he would pay for carpet cleaning. He said he had a carpet cleaner in his garage that he would use. It was so dirty, I needed a professional cleaner. He finally said he would chip in $100. It cost $350.

The homeowner wanted a short term lease because he was being transferred for work for 6 months. Perfect right?

So he moves out on July 3rd, gives us the keys, but the house isn't really 'ours' until July 9th. So we went to look at it on the 4th and OMG it was so disgusting. And smelled. I hired a cleaning service to do the kitchen and 2 bathrooms because I just couldn't do it. $150 more. The carpet cleaner called me after he was done and wanted to let me know that the back bedroom in the basement was saturated with urine, and he wanted me to be aware that the odor will probably come back unless the carpet and psd are changed. I went to open windows to air the place out and 4 out of the 5 bedrooms have rotten, BLACK moldy windows with NO screens! That might bother me the most! I can barely air the place out.

I finally called him to confront him and tell him that it was his job to prepare his house for renters. He should have to pay the carpet cleaning bill and house cleaners. He said no way....he did offer to clean the carpets but I wanted to hire it out and he also cleaned but apparantly not up to my expectations.

We are not in the house yet....we are slowly moving stuff over there and I feel sick about this whole situation.

My main question is--we signed the lease. Is there any way out of it? Our realtor said we could deduct what we think is fair from our last months rent, BUT he has our deposit that then he would just not give all of that back. What would you do?

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I'd take pictures of anything I could, and get responsible witnesses for the other things (smells, etc). I'd call my lawyer and get a referral to the best real estate lawyer he knows, and follow that attorney's advice. Probably would write off the deposit as a loss, and in the meantime, would try to find some sympathetic relative who was willing to let me surf on their couch for the next couple of weeks while I got this all sorted out.

Oh, but the screen situation? That's the least expensive , most easily solved problem you cited. You can buy those expandable screens at home depot for about $5-6. So that should be easily solved, and you can take them with you when you leave--sell them on a yard sale if you have no use for them.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:18PM
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Sophie Wheeler

What's the dollar figure for 6 months of rent? Can you afford to lose that and walk away? Put your stuff in storage and rent an apartment? If you can afford that, then do it. If you can't afford to do that, the you're not going to be able to make him pay for anything that you decide to do to the house if it wasn't in the lease. If he agreed to $100 for the carpet cleaning, that's all you'll ever get. And yes, if you decide to not pay a portion of your rent, then he will keep your depost, as he is legally entitled to do. And if you void the lease and don't pay him off entirely, he'll probably go after you for the rent you owe him as well. Again, as he can legally do.

If all of this was important to you, then a better up front vetting of the home should have occurred and you would have possibly passed on this rental. If the location and time frame made this the best of a bad lot for your choices as you focus on your future build, then that's obviously what is most important to you now, and you'll deal with the grody conditions short term in order to get into your new home.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:20PM
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You are not renting from a full time landlord.

The odds of getting what you want are close to zero.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:47PM
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That place is a health hazard.
I would leave this instant and sort out the financials later.

Store your crap, go to a hotel, and get busy finding another place.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 4:31PM
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Did you find this place through a realtor? Why is she suggesting you live in this filth? I'd have a bone to pick with her, too even though she's sure to say you made the decision on our own.

You have nothing to lose (other than what you've already spent in cleaning) by asking the landlord to let you out of the lease. Tell the truth, that's it's just not a healthy place for your family and that you had been in such a hurry to find something that you didn't notice. He may well be insulted or not at all inclined to tear up the lease. So be prepared to offer a financial compromise that gives him time to find another renter without losing the month rent. I'm with cearbhaill - get to a hotel or one of the Extended business stay places and look for something else.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 6:26PM
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Thanks for the replies. I was hoping someone who knew more about rental stuff would pop in and say....Oh if he didn't disclose this or that, it voids the lease. :-) I was praying anyway.

The rent is $1500 per month, which was also the deposit we gave him. I guess I shouldn't have assumed that everyone takes care of their house. I had no idea walking through it will all of his furniture still there that it was so dirty. Other than the carpet. I knew I would get that cleaned.

Sounds like we would be out all our money if we leave. Still not sure what we're gonna do, its hard to find a lease shorter than 1 year here in MN. We close on our current house July 19th.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 6:36PM
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If the homeowner lived in the place like that, he is going to have no sympathy for you. I doubt you have any recourse since you accepted it that way. I'd take lots of pictures and see if you can get anything in writing from the carpet cleaner and the maid service on how filthy everything was. Keep a record documenting everything so you have leverage if he tries anything after you move out.

If you are going to be out the money no matter what you do and it is going to cost a lot of money, I'd probably suck it up and just pay a maid service to clean so you can live there. I'd either avoid the room with the nasty carpet in the basement or tape plastic down over it and use the room for storage.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 8:21PM
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You wouldn't necessarily be out of all your money, don't jump to conclusions. Real estate contracts (including leases) are notoriously complicated. Just because there is nothing in the lease contract about breaking a lease due to unlivable conditions doesn't mean case law in your jurisdiction doesn't allow for you to walk away owing nothing.

A very short visit to a local lawyer would help you tremendously. The fee you would pay to the lawyer would probably be less than the costs of cleaning the place.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 8:25PM
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Check local regulations. In one city we have rentals the city does annual inspections of all rental property and will make a list of violations that the landlord needs to fix. If your city is like that, call them. They'll come out and write up a list of issues. Then the guy will either have to remedy the issues or it'll give you leverage to get out of the lease.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 8:39PM
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Try this link:

They are professional landlords, very nice people there. I had read good advice they gave to people who asked questions as tenants.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 11:48PM
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Was the house spic and span when you viewed it to rent it?

I'm not sure what you were expecting really. People who live in mess, don't clean up. Urine stained? didn't it smell when you looked at it?

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 5:47PM
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I am a little confused too. Same as chrisk327. You previewed it.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 9:37PM
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What part of MN are you in? We're in Duluth.

    Bookmark   July 12, 2012 at 11:39PM
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I can almost understand the situation because I rented a house for a couple of years in CA - it was large and bright and had a good floor plan, terrific location, great schools, and it was available at a price I could afford.
I did a quick walk-thru (landlord was living there, would be moving in with boyfriend) and the house was so cluttered that it was difficult to see how dirty it was. There was stuff lining the hallway and every wall. And she supposedly cleaned it before I moved in.
It wasn't gross, though. No animals. Just dust and grime and grease in the kitchen. You still couldn't really see it, but if you ran a cloth along the cabinets, it would wipe off black. Easy to clean with some elbow grease, but difficult to find the time to literally wipe down every surface in the house.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 10:05AM
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My family was in a similar position a few years ago with a rental townhouse in ok shape but dirty, dirty. We were moving out from my in-laws house and just wanted a place to live. We had decided against an apartment and our unit was the only townhouse in the area in our price range that we halfway like. The previous tenants were very poor housekeepers (fortunately no animals) and the landlord hadn't done anything to clean up either. If we had another house to consider we wouldn't have bothered with it but we needed somewhere to live.

We decided to make the most of it, and I cleaned the carpets and scoured the place from top to bottom. We didn't bother asking the landlord for compensation because we figured if they were going to pay they would have done it before we moved in. We did what it took to make it livable for us. Fortunately our landlord agreed to replace the worst flooring after a year there, which was the carpet in the LR and vinyl in the kitchen. After the flooring was replaced the whole house was much more pleasant and we enjoyed living there.

If I were you, I would do what I needed to in the short term to make it habitable and focus on moving into your new home in a few months. I wouldn't want to spend a lot of money trying to get out of my lease, or paying rent on two places just to keep from living in the dirty place. It would be taking money away that you could spend at your new place. And if anything it will make you appreciate your beautiful, clean home even more!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2012 at 7:23AM
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As a small time landlord, I can confirm that most tenants are filthy - I clean up after them all the time. I would estimate that 8 or 9 out of 10 leave some kind of disgusting mess behind. Not to mention that "normal" wear and tear for a tenant means "destruct the property" - not intentionally, they're just careless.

Almost always, I clean, fix minor problems, and make improvements in between tenants, and I ALWAYS get the carpet professionally cleaned before a new tenant moves in. Nobody wants to move into a filthy place. Moving is chaos enough, let alone to try and clean a new place in the midst of it.

However, I think I'm in the minority. The tenants invariably move in and destruct the place again. I guess it's become commonplace for the both landlords and tenants to be slobs. I've had enough and am getting out.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2012 at 6:45PM
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We had a similar, but much less severe situation we dealt with. We are in a college town so rentals are scarce and scary. In order to get our house sold we jumped at a place my wife found. It was actually a pretty good rental, but when our hoped for 9 months turned into 16 months it started to get pretty old.

We did have very responsive landlords who tried to do what they could, but the house was just a bit old, had some mold isuues, a few leaks and since it was boxed in by trees never really dried out in the winter. They had no proper ventilation and other problems. I gritted my teeth and dealt with it. I now look back and wish I hadn't done that - it feels like it wasn't worth it due to the stress of everyday living there.

The other option I would look into is if you are going to stay - replace some of the stuff at your own expense (document it and try to get it removed from rent/deposits). Things like urine stained carpet can't stay...

    Bookmark   July 18, 2012 at 6:46PM
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Circus Peanut

We just purchased a house from sellers who clearly never dusted or cleaned a day in their lives.

One word: steam cleaner. It's saved our lives in this situation, and can be used on windows, floors, walls, bathroom fixtures, outdoor decking, doors, trim, anywhere that's filthy and needs sanitizing. Wonderful invention and worth every penny. Get a good one, it will cost $500 - $1500 but sooooo worth it, and they last for many many years.

I'll link to the one we bought, but there are many brands out there. Look on eBay for great deals.

Here is a link that might be useful: Karcher steam cleaner

    Bookmark   July 19, 2012 at 9:47AM
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