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ronin ronin is offline
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Join Date: May 2003
Location: Seattle
Posts: 6,676
Hey Todd,

Other than the paint, the three items are wear and tear.

Now, for the paint. I have rental property and have a clause in my rental agreement that says I will not charge for repaint after three years. HOWEVER, if there is evidence of neglect or abuse, I will charge the tenant for the repair. So, to exaggerate a bit, if the tenants trashed the walls by ramming holes in them, or ripping them open with a claw hammer, I obviously would charge them. Now comes the fine line. There comes a point where judgment needs to be made whether something on the walls is damage or just normal grime/wear that can be cleaned and painted over. Many people have different interpretations of where that line is. I'm pretty forgiving and wouldn't charge for, say, a minor dent behind the door where the knob had been pushed in a bit too hard once or twice, or something like that, but others would. So now it comes down to how your State/jurisdiction handles these types of cases, should the landlord make these claims. (which yours obviously did)

So now you unfortunately have to square off against your landlord to get your money back. Of course I have the benefit of hindsight on your behalf, but it might have been a good idea to take a walk-through with your landlord before releasing the house back to him, and noting any deficiencies. All that notwithstanding, I do think you have a good case against him, should you decide to take this to court. Seems to me that you have good evidence that he has no history (or indicated no interest, per your words) of making any repairs during your entire stay. That would thwart his point of trying to charge for the mold issue, for example.

When I was a renter, I was just like you and never bothered the landlord for anything, thinking that it would keep me in good graces. I got lucky though, and had a good landlord. Your situation proves the point that it really doesn't have as much to do with your attitude as a renter, but with the mindset of the owner. And your landlord's mindset is pretty obvious. He wants to nickel and dime you. I say don't let him.
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