I moved from NC to LA about a month ago. My husband and I rented a home for the first time (we are young and in our 20s), so we had no experience with landlords. The whole month before we moved out, I could not get in contact with my landlord. I finally found his job number and he told me he was out of town when I called.
I told him I was leaving in 2 days and to please come inspect the house before I leave; he said he thought I had left a week prior. Now it's been a month and I just received a letter from him saying that he paid double my deposit, and sent me receipts with things he fixed that were messed up before we moved in. I don't know what to do.
By yessy from Shreveport, LA
Did you take photos of the house before you moved in and when you moved out? What we do is take photos of all the rooms, floors and ceilings when we move in and when we move out. To make sure there is no doubt about the date of when the photos were taken make sure there is a newspaper with prominent headlines displayed in the photos. Also keep the newspaper, at least the first page with the headlines, in your records. (12/02/2009)
The deposit is supposed to cover any damage beyond normal wear and tear! Ideally, you would have had a walk through with your landlord before leaving - but that was obviously impossible. Sad to say, it sounds as if he is trying to get YOU to pay for repairs/improvements that you are not liable for. You need to document the fact that the landlord was unavailable - and I do hope you gave him enough notice. Please scrutinize the bills and see what sort of thing he is trying to bill you for - if it is beyond normal wear and tear - you may have a case for not paying them.
Again, I do hope you left the house in a reasonable state - and it wasn't trashed in any way. Do you have pictures? That would help. If it comes to that, you can take this to small claims court. Although normally HE would be having a case against you. I think the burden of proof is on him to prove the degree of repairs. Check the www.nolopress.com on line to see about relevant law, and you might also want to contact your local municipal authorities. Perhaps he has tried to do this before! Good luck. (12/02/2009)
I agree with yarnlady and recommend the same. I would also suggest after you take the pictures to write everything down and have your landlord sign the list and the pictures. Without proof of the problems, a landlord has you on the move out. Sucks, but that's how most landlords are and there is really nothing you can do after the fact. Unless by some chance you have pictures or a video you took at a holiday like Christmas. A time very recognizable. And that would give you proof. You can present it to the landlord and negotiate. If the landlord resists, tell him you'll go to court. If he doesn't budge, go to court. Small claims court is probably the case, but do some internet research to make sure before you waste time and money. (12/02/2009)
Thanks for the advice. Let me add that I did take pictures of when I moved out, but not when I moved in. I did not leave the house a mess. We busted our butts cleaning that place, because I really expected (and really needed the money) him to give me at least most of the deposit. I gave him 2 1/2 month's notice; I am in the Air Force and had to move to my new location. He ignored my phone calls the whole month I was supposed to be moving out. (12/03/2009)
Sounds like the landlord is trying to scam you and has probably pulled the stunt before! You gave him lots of notice and he just conveniently is not there when he needs to inspect the house? Good luck to you. Hope you get your deposit back. (12/04/2009)
This kind of "stuff" really ticks me off. I'm 68 years old and I can't count the number of times people tried to rip off my kids when they were young. Through the years I've stepped in when my kids were being taken advantage of. These people think they can take advantage of the young and inexperienced. Yessy, if you have all the documentation, please take the "scum bug" to small claims courts. Act confident and tell him you are not responsible and he will NOT get more than a dime that he's worth. They can sense your insecurity and lack of experience. Don't avoid him; he probably doesn't know what pictures you have. Tell him you have proof and you'll see him in small claims court. You can see how irritated this makes me! (12/04/2009)
Is there a way you can show (cell phone history/records) the attempts you made to contact him? Suppose it couldn't hurt. (12/04/2009)
In most states, landlords are required to supply a complete checklist and do a walk through with you before moving in and moving out and give you a copy of both! Find out if that's required in North Carolina and if it is and he didn't do it upon the move in (we already know he didn't do it upon the move out), he won't have a leg to stand on in small claims court if he didn't follow the law!
Also, find out how many days are required for him to have supplied you with what he did give you. If he didn't do it in the amount of time stated by law, then that is also something that will help your case!
I was a landlord for about a dozen years and always did those check lists and took pictures before just in case the tenant did cause damage and I always suggested the tenant do the same upon moving in and out to protect themselves!
Because I know there are shyster landlords out there I know what it feels like to be ripped off and I wanted my tenants to know that they would not be ripped off by me, but to be smart in case something happened to me and someone else became their landlord before their tenancy terminated.
I am a tenant now and drove my current landlord crazy during the walk through by even making him make notes of scratches on the floor or countertops, a ding on the tub edge, a dent on the oven door, a couple of bent slats on the mini-blinds etc, etc, etc, ;-)
Good luck to you and let us know the outcome of this situation, okay?
And "Thank You and God Bless You" for your service to our country! (12/04/2009)
In the future, always send a registered letter. You will then have post office records of attempted delivery--proof you did notify him. (12/04/2009)
You should be able to find a website that states what the landlord's responsibilities are and what rights and responsibilities that you have as a tenant. I did a search for "landlord and tenant rights in North Carolina" and came up with several websites, but I am not sure which one would help you out. If that doesn't help, then perhaps you could find a legal clinic to assist you if you can't afford an attorney. Good luck! (12/04/2009)
All of those are good ideas, specifically taking photos when you move in. I am a landlord and photos protect everyone. I would even suggest taking photos when viewing a prospective rental home. That way the landlord can't dispute when the photos were taken because they were there! Sad to say, your two biggest mistakes were not sending a registered letter requesting a departure walk through and actually getting a departure walk through before you gave the keys back. Hopefully you won't get taken next time - no one should be treated like this, ever, but especially a proud service professional! (12/04/2009)
Unscrupulous landlords make my blood boil! We had to step in when we discovered our youngest sleeping in an unheated apartment with no running water because his shyster landlord "didn't have time" to go a couple of blocks to the water department. He learned from hard experience and is in process of learning another hard lesson.
There should be a Landlord-Tenant Relations or Mediation group in your town. If there is and you have proof of your experiences with this crook, you should be able to get at least your deposit back. If not, unfortunately, you may have to mark this experience down as a hard lesson learned. Take heed of the advice the others here have offered for next time, and best to you! (12/06/2009)
It doesn't seem like there is a lot you can do right now. If he has pictures/receipts of things he says he fixed, you won't have any luck suing him. Next time, take pictures when you move in and when you move out. (12/19/2009)
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