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nostatic 05-14-2015 07:26 AM

rental security deposit charges questions
 
I know we have some landlords (and tenants) here. We recently moved out and just got the itemized list (no receipts, just pictures and dollar amounts) from the landlord (by email, 11th hour of the 21st day). We were in the property for almost 4 years, and had a $5K security deposit. He's trying to charge for:

- repainting a bedroom due to "stains" on the wall (just wear from a bed rubbing)

- repainting a walk-in closet due to walls and ceiling being marked up

- a rusting bathroom sink drain

- shower door that doesn't stay closed - the magnet assembly rusted and fell apart in year 3.

- fixing a running toilet

He's holding back $1K with $325 of that "pending" since he doesn't have costs for the toilet running or the shower door.

Seems to me that repainting the interior is expected after a 3+ year residency, and we should not be charged for that. The rusted drain and shower door are due to normal use and would fall under maintenance not damage (same with the toilet).

Am I out of line or is the landlord just trying to fund his deferred maintenance on our back? He fixed *nothing* during the time we were renting.

jwasbury 05-14-2015 07:39 AM

What does your lease say?

rusting sink drain, shower door and running toilet I'd think for sure should be landlord's nickel. paint...not sure and there's where I'd look to the lease to see what it says about condition.

I am a landlord and if you were a good tenant, paid rent on time and caused me no trouble, I'd not try to take your deposit money for these kind of things. I'm not a poopyhead landlord though.


Quote:

Originally Posted by nostatic (Post 8622582)
I know we have some landlords (and tenants) here. We recently moved out and just got the itemized list (no receipts, just pictures and dollar amounts) from the landlord (by email, 11th hour of the 21st day). We were in the property for almost 4 years, and had a $5K security deposit. He's trying to charge for:

- repainting a bedroom due to "stains" on the wall (just wear from a bed rubbing)

- repainting a walk-in closet due to walls and ceiling being marked up

- a rusting bathroom sink drain

- shower door that doesn't stay closed - the magnet assembly rusted and fell apart in year 3.

- fixing a running toilet

He's holding back $1K with $325 of that "pending" since he doesn't have costs for the toilet running or the shower door.

Seems to me that repainting the interior is expected after a 3+ year residency, and we should not be charged for that. The rusted drain and shower door are due to normal use and would fall under maintenance not damage (same with the toilet).

Am I out of line or is the landlord just trying to fund his deferred maintenance on our back? He fixed *nothing* during the time we were renting.


Rick Lee 05-14-2015 07:39 AM

Surely, you have a walk-thru checklist from when you took the keys four yrs. ago. And doesn't the lease mention wear and tear?

Steve Carlton 05-14-2015 07:42 AM

I agree with your perspective, Todd.

dennis in se pa 05-14-2015 07:47 AM

Sounds like normal wear and tear to me.

stomachmonkey 05-14-2015 07:49 AM

You are not out of line.

This is the exact reason why in the past when I've moved out of a place I've done a walk around with my landlord hat on and addressed anything on my own before turning over the keys.

bpu699 05-14-2015 07:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jwasbury (Post 8622598)
What does your lease say?

rusting sink drain, shower door and running toilet I'd think for sure should be landlord's nickel. paint...not sure and there's where I'd look to the lease to see what it says about condition.

I am a landlord and if you were a good tenant, paid rent on time and caused me no trouble, I'd not try to take your deposit money for these kind of things. I'm not a poopyhead landlord though.

Ditto...

Technically speaking, ANY paint marks on the wall qualify as damages according to the courts. Rubbing, scratches, yada, yada. So, if he wants, he can charge for it.

Running toilet... not so much

Rust stains... possibly...

Shower door, depends. If the piece is missing, he may have a point.

Now, if this somehow ends up in court, the judge will usually make you pay for the paint job costs as long as its reasonable, and decline eveything else.

The cost to paint has to be based on receipts, as the landlords time is worth "zero." Unless, you have pre-agreed on prices that you signed of on during the check in...

What was your rent? $1000 loss on an apt that rents for $3000 a month I would write off. A $1000 loss on an apt that rents for $500 a month is a big deal...

Bo

nostatic 05-14-2015 08:00 AM

Rent was $4400/mo (house). So amortized over 4 years, yeah, $1K isn't a big deal but money is money. We paid on-time and never bugged them. They did zero maintenance during our stay.

Lease mentions wear and tear, but it cannot supersede CA law. According to the state, paint typically is considered to have a 2-3 year lifespan, so we shouldn't be on the hook for painting *anything*.

In addition, he gave us 30 days notice and by state law he is required to give 60 (as we were in the property for over a year). We actually moved out a week early which saved him money. He claimed he was going to sell and wanted to move quickly.

wdfifteen 05-14-2015 08:02 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nostatic (Post 8622582)
Am I out of line or is the landlord just trying to fund his deferred maintenance on our back?

He's a cheapskate who is trying to get you to pay for maintenance. The painting is questionable, the rest should be on his dime. If it was my place and you had paid your rent on time for four years and left it like this I would give you the whole deposit back and consider myself lucky. You should see some of the messes tenants have left me.

craigster59 05-14-2015 08:14 AM

You owe him nothing. Drain, door and toilet are his responsibility and I'd consider paint as normal wear and tear. Withholding of deposit is a great revenue generator for unscrupulous landlords. I'd threaten small claims court.

motion 05-14-2015 08:30 AM

What a douchebag! Threaten him with small claims court. Follow up with a suit if he insists on keeping your money.

Tobra 05-14-2015 09:16 AM

That is normal wear and tear.

If you were in the unit longer than one year and one day, you can probably charge him "reasonable" interest on the deposit. No really.

State site on rental security deposits

look 171 05-14-2015 09:16 AM

All wear and tear items. I wold never make my tenant pay for that if they were good with rent, even if they are late at time.

aigel 05-14-2015 09:28 AM

Total ripoff unless it says you need to paint on move out. Some contracts are having this in there, i.e. move out after 1 year or less: all paint is on tenant. 2 years 50%, 3 years, all landlord. If this was my tenant, I'd happily give the whole deposit back.

But mistakes from your end. You should do the following to help protect your deposit:

1) Move in check list. Fill this in and have landlord initial. Pictures.

2) 2 weeks before move out, ask for a move-out pre-inspection. Have them fill in and initial a check list. This gives you the chance to fix anything before move out inspection.

3) Last day, go over the house with move out check list. Have landlord initial. Pictures.

This will reduce the chance of shenanigans, just because the LL knows you have documentation. Of course, slum lords will try to skim some money off the top, hoping you won't go to court, but if they know you have your ducks in a row, they may be careful.

Unless you have pictures and documentation, going to court may not be yielding your money. But I would still threaten with certified letter right away. Go for it if needed. There is nothing to lose for you but time ... I always fight stuff like this. If everyone would, people would not get taken advantage off as often.

Good Luck,

G

Evans, Marv 05-14-2015 10:21 AM

When I had rental property, I had a move in/ move out check list. I took pictures with the tenant moving in as we went through the move in list which we both signed. The list had a move in column next to a move out column next adjacent to the items plus a section for comments at the end. You shouldn't owe the landlord anything from the conditions you describe. Sounds like all normal wear & tear to me. Send him a letter saying you have done "some consulting" on the subject and determined he has no basis to his claims and therefore expect your deposit back. Tell him you'll be happy to let small claims court decide if you owe him anything or not. It's possible the court will award you additional expenses as long as they are directly related to the situation. There are stock forms for move in/move out tenants can use or modify for their own use when moving into a property in case the landlord doesn't use one.

Bugsinrugs 05-14-2015 12:01 PM

In California if you sue and win you are entitled to triple damages. I'd let him know what he is in for. Maybe get a lawyer to write a letter.

bpu699 05-14-2015 12:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bugsinrugs (Post 8622964)
In California if you sue and win you are entitled to triple damages. I'd let him know what he is in for. Maybe get a lawyer to write a letter.

If its like Illinois and Wisconsin, triple damages are only if the security deposit wasnt returned in the correct time frame (usually 21-28 days) and there was no explanation. It has nothing to do with disputed damages.

gordner 05-14-2015 12:35 PM

I know this won't be relavant to the OP, but in Canada they are lawfully required to return your deposit and then invoice you for any damages. Paint cannot be charged back on a rental period that exceeds 3 years as that is normal wear and tear, here landlords are required to paint the entire place after a 3 year rental before renting again. Everything you list seems to me to be normal wear and tear, and would not be charged to you here for sure. Though there are shady landlords everywhere of course.

bpu699 05-14-2015 12:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by gordner (Post 8623005)
I know this won't be relavant to the OP, but in Canada they are lawfully required to return your deposit and then invoice you for any damages. Paint cannot be charged back on a rental period that exceeds 3 years as that is normal wear and tear, here landlords are required to paint the entire place after a 3 year rental before renting again. Everything you list seems to me to be normal wear and tear, and would not be charged to you here for sure. Though there are shady landlords everywhere of course.

If you have to return the security deposit, and THEN invoice the tenant, what was the point of the security deposit in the first place?

rusnak 05-14-2015 01:15 PM

My advice is to use a letter to negotiate away as much as you can of the $1,000. Then just move on, it's not worth going to court, fighting, blah de blah blah. Just play the game and do what you have to. It's just business.


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