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Renters right to dispute security deposit

 
Ranch Hand
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I was in a apt for around four years. When I moved in to that apt, the apt was not cleaned and the painter has left food and his clothes all over the place and didnt even complete the apinting job. Then property Manager said she forgot my moving date and she will compensate it by giving a credit of $ 60.

Then last month I moved out and before leaving I cleaned everything very well.


But today I got a bill of $355 which includes $ 30 for cleaning each window and list goes on. But I have cleaned everything. But unfortunately I dont have any photographs to prove.This is happening for the first time. I had stayed in other apt in diff states in US and I always got my security deposit back.

Is there any way I can fight back?

Any help appreciated....
 
pie sneak
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Start by complaining to the apartment managers. Sometimes these charges come because the inspecting agency is independent of the apartment complex which usually ends in charges because, well, that's how they make money.

A lot of times the managers are very understanding and will take care of you. As a last resort it can always be settled in small claims although not having proof would make your case more difficult. 30 bucks a window is just plain wrong, dirty or not. I would hope that any judge would at least agree with that.
 
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Here is what I do. I never worry about ever getting a deposit back, nor do I clean like I would expect it back. The last apartment my and my wife lived in talked to the manager about it. One of the requirements was that you had to have your carpet professionally cleaned when you left. Then was going to cost $50. The policy was if you didn't have it cleaned you would be charged $50 out of your deposit for management to have it cleaned. Here is the catch, even after you pay $50 to have it cleaned, management had it cleaned again. So I figured, why go to the trouble of having it cleaned when they can just charge me the same amount and do it themselves.

I've lived in places where I cleaned and scrubbed for 2-3 before letting management inspect and somehow they always seem to find things wrong or dirty, etc. So I don't even bother with it that much and I come out the same.
 
Ranch Hand
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I once moved out of a rented apartment where I expected to get grief from the agent (I was cutting the lease short due to moving into a place I'd bought). The apartment was fairly new and was clean when we moved in, but agents being agents I know they were going to try something. I cleaned the place from top to bottom and went around with a camcorder to show how spotless the place was. In places on the video you could see the reflection of me in the kitchen and bathroom chrome fittings - the place was gleaming!

When we moved out and I claimed my bond back from the third party government organisation who handle these things in Qld, I was informed that the agent required $350 for cleaning (The agency hold all bond money until both parties agree on how it should be refunded). I refused to acknowledge that the appartment needed cleaning - depite being presented with copies of the invoices from the cleaning company and had a series of angry phone calls with the agent talking about how they clearly had a suspect relationship with the cleaning company and things got very ugly! Eventually I told the agent that if they wanted the money from me then they'd have to take me to court and point out the cleaning that was required on my 15 minute video (which I offered to show them). Mysteriously enough they backed down and I got my entire deposit back!
 
High Plains Drifter
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I went through this once: always beware of an apartment complex that is owned by a holding company. Many states have a consumer group that watchdogs the loser complex owners and reports their abuses.

Sadly, many apartment-owning corps view the security deposit as something to fight for when the time comes. Who could have a weaker bargaining position than someone who cannot stick around long?

Sometimes there's a back-room deal with a cleaning service, I'm sure, but I'm inclined to believe it's often easier for the complex to assign liability to the cleaning company when awarding the work. If it looks like crap when they're done, they have to come back free of charge, that sort of thing.

These days I use my credit history to show why I won't pay last month's rent in advance, and I won't even entertain a "deposit" that, like Greg, exceeds what it would cost me to clean the apartment myself. Where I am now, as a matter of fact, I consider the $99 deposit a bargain -- I'd rather keep my time than the money.

And sorry, but yes, you have got to keep people honest. On my walk-through, I noticed someone laid down a *lot* of carpet freshing powder and baking soida to hide stains in the carpet. I vacuumed up an amazing amount of the stuff on move in and found even more. The complex was good about it and allowed me to mark up my walk-through inspection after the fact (but I'd rather have bedroom carpet with no motor oil stains; at least I hope it was motor oil...)

You'd be surprised, I bet, to know how late many people are with the rent every month. Here's a little litmus test I've used in the past: I mention to the complex manager or leasing agent that my credit report should speak for itself, and that I pay on time. You might be surprised how far a statement like that goes.
 
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These sort of scams were so common at one time that many Canadian provinces outlawed the "security deposit". Most apartments now require a last month's rent in advance, and have to sue if the apartment is damaged.

I knew an Australian woman in Winnipeg many years ago who had rented a very nice furnished apartment, with a monthly rent equivalent to $2000 today. She was required to pay a security deposit of a month's rent when she signed the lease. The apartment was immaculate, she had a cleaning service in every 2 weeks. About a month before she was ready to head back to Australia she heard from other tenants that nobody ever got their security deposit back. She left 2 days before the lease expired, after inviting everybody she knew to a going away party that went from Friday night to Sunday night, she even provided a few gallons of black paint to add to the fun. When the landlord recovered the apartment on Monday morning, he probably wished that he had returned every security deposit that he had ever stolen from his tenants, and I suspect he never rented to Australians again.
 
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I always had my deposits returned during my house hopping around Cambridge for 8 years. The most I was ever charged was about 30 pounds for window cleaning, so I've been pretty lucky (or careful). I did hear of some outrageous claims though.

A friend of mine renting a room in a shared house was going to be denied his 50 pounds at the end of the lease, even though he'd cleaned it thoroughly. He said "fine, I'll just take this vacuum cleaner to cover my losses" and walked out the door with it. The landlord returned the deposit.
 
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In the US, rentor's rights vary wildly from state to state.

Your options depend on where you are.

Guy
[ February 17, 2005: Message edited by: Guy Allard ]
 
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Renters Rights. Search msn.com/House & Home section for other articles.

If I could suggest one thing, keep records of when you called, whom you talked to etc. Whatever you do, try to do it in writing. Its a pain but if you are determined, you can get away with it. Lots of times, its easy money for them so they put all sorts of things and ask you to pay. If you put it in writing, it becomes much more legally valid and you will have a lot more strength in your argument than phone conversations.

- m
 
Sheriff
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What if the landlord blackmails you by saying they'll ruin your credit rating if you don't pay them extra. Would you pay them?
 
Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter
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"So, you're willing to commit both fraud and blackmail to make a few dollars. My guess is you have experience at this. Where do you suggest I start my record search?"
 
Wanderer
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[MdQ]: What if the landlord blackmails you by saying they'll ruin your credit rating if you don't pay them extra. Would you pay them?

You can get a microcasette recorder from Radio Shack for about $30. Get them to say something incriminating on videotape.
[ February 18, 2005: Message edited by: Jim Yingst ]
 
Sheriff
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Originally posted by Jim Yingst:
You can get a microcasette recorder from Radio Shack for about $30. Get them to say something incriminating on videotape.



Which may be illegal depending on how it's done and the state you live in. Just ask Linda Tripp.
[ February 18, 2005: Message edited by: Jason Menard ]
 
Ranch Hand
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correct. That falls under wiretap laws. Unless you tell them in advance the conversation will be taped as potential evidence if it comes to a court case it's inadmissible as evidence and if you do tell it's still quationable.

As said, just expect to not get your money back. Rental agencies consider those deposits to be an extra fee collected for renting out the property, not something to recover operational expenses for cleaning it after you leave.
 
With a little knowledge, a cast iron skillet is non-stick and lasts a lifetime.
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