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Ex-landlord trouble..need advice


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Our old landlord is slapping us with a bill of over $5000! We lived in our last rental home for 14 months and I keep a pretty clean home and we are very good renters.

 

Before our move I told our landlord that I would be hiring a cleaning service to do a move-out cleaning for us and he insisted that I did not. That he always uses some company and really trusts their work. I went ahead and cleaned up some-the floors, cabinets, etc. But didn't scrub the walls or anything.

 

Well, now he is charging us $2000 for painting (the walls were left in very good condition, we were careful not to hang many pictures (only 2 with those Hercules Hooks). There was more dirt on the wall by the steps because the hand railing only went half way down so my kids would hold the wall to come down. This dirt is easily removed with a cleaning, I used to do it in the past before my arm pain and bursitis.

 

The house cleaners he use charged nearly $800! I was going to pay $300 for a professional move out cleaning.

 

He is charging us another $800 for carpet cleaning. We are a 'no shoes' in the house family and there is only carpet upstairs in the bedrooms. How on earth could that be $800! I got our current carpets cleaned after we moved in to this house and it is almost 3,000 sq ft of carpet and only paid $353 and this was also from a 'green' cleaning company.

 

I just don't know what to do. We did a walk through with him before we left and he didn't say one word about being unhappy with anything. He smiled and said he was going to miss having us as tenants. There was never any hostility.

 

There were a couple things that did need fixing, something in the garage and the fixtures in the bathroom (because they kept falling out from the get go) and we told him that we would pay for those. There was also a chip in the enamel of the stovetop, this could easily be fixed with enamel paint but we knew he would want it replaced completely so we told him that we would pay for that too.

 

But the rest of it is just plain shocking.

 

Should we get an attorney? How does one deal with this when we no longer live in the area? We would consider the walls to be normal wear and tear, there was no damage, nothing really dirty or anything. But are we missing something here?

 

We are still keep in touch with our old neighbors and they could contest to the condition of our home. I am just so upset about this.:sad:

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I know that here in Alabama all of those charges are what he is expected to pay as upkeep on a rental and not the responsiblity of the renter.

Those are normal maintenance charges that you are not responsible for. You are only responsible for damages, not cleaning or painting.

You may need to talk to a lawyer and have him write a letter or make a phone call.

It honestly sounds as if this guy is just trying to take advantage of you.

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Should we get an attorney? How does one deal with this when we no longer live in the area? We would consider the walls to be normal wear and tear, there was no damage, nothing really dirty or anything. But are we missing something here?

Check the state laws.

 

Our landlord tried similar when we moved out (the original landlord died and his son took over. The documents with various agreements, including the fact that we asked for the already-damaged carpets not to be replaced before we moved in, and that we paid an (illegal on their part) double security deposit were conveniently lost).

 

In our (former) state, they needed to provide us with an itemized bill within 21 days, along with copies of receipts, or return the whole security deposit. They didn't do that.

 

It also turned out that they can't actually place a claim against us in small-claims court in our old state. It's their responsibility to come here to do that. I imagine that varies by state (and wouldn't apply if you still live in the same state), but it may be worth looking into.

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My BIL is a landlord. Security deposits are only kept for actual "damage" beyond normal wear and tear. He expects to do any cleaning etc, repainting, replacing of rugs, whatever. Is something written into your lease making YOU responsible for that? I can't imagine on what basis he is "billing" you for the normal cleaning a landlord should do.

 

As an aside, I remember moving into a place as a renter and having to scrub the previous tenant's film of smoke from windows and walls. The landlord didn't do it, and certainly didn't offer to compensate ME for doing it.

 

How about telling the landlord he is expected to handle his own cleaning bills for Tenant Turnover (which is pretty standard), especially if you didn't leave the house an extraordinary mess. (many tenants do)

 

What is the repercussion if you don't pay this unexpected and unwarranted bill?

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Do you have pictures of the state of the house when you moved out? Was anything signed by you and the landlord - particularly anything documenting the state of the house?

 

No, and this is what I most regret.

 

I just didn't think that I needed to because he seemed like a nice, honest person. Boy was I wrong. My former neighbor's son came over one day with his new camera and took a lot of pictures of our house because he really liked it. I could ask his mom if they still have any of them. But their wouldn't be pics of an empty house though.

 

Since we didn't take pics or sign a move out inspection sheet, is there no other way to "win" this? Should we fork over the money as a lesson learned?

 

We are in Virginia and from what I found as far as the tenant and landlord laws go, it just said that walls beyond normal wear and tear were to be collected as damages, but what exactly consists of normal wear and tear. I mean, honestly, those walls were in great condition. We were very careful not to mess them up. So if that's not normal, then I'm not sure what is. We weren't there for that long. I also couldn't find anything about house cleaning and carpet cleaning charges.

 

He also charged for refinishing the hard wood. Again, I'm confused because they were also in excellent condition. We don't wear shoes in the house, we don't have pets and I regularly used Method Wood Floor cleaner to keep the floors looking nice.

 

It just makes my stomach turn at how much he is expecting to collect from us.

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All fo what you are talking about is normal wear and tear type stuff that goes along with the cost of owning rental property. That is one of the pluses of not owning a home--you are not responsible for all that maintenance type stuff. I would read through your lease and see if there was any kind of a clause that stated you were responsible for this stuff. If there is not, you could check laws yourself and hand him some stuff in writing. Before you get a lawyer and spend good money you don't need to.

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There were a couple things that did need fixing, something in the garage and the fixtures in the bathroom (because they kept falling out from the get go) and we told him that we would pay for those. There was also a chip in the enamel of the stovetop, this could easily be fixed with enamel paint but we knew he would want it replaced completely so we told him that we would pay for that too.

 

But the rest of it is just plain shocking.

 

Should we get an attorney? How does one deal with this when we no longer live in the area? We would consider the walls to be normal wear and tear, there was no damage, nothing really dirty or anything. But are we missing something here?

 

We are still keep in touch with our old neighbors and they could contest to the condition of our home. I am just so upset about this.:sad:

 

I'm sorry, but you shouldn't be paying for any of this. No fixtures. Not even the stovetop. If you already agreed to pay for the stovetop, fine, but this is how I would put it.

 

CLEANING for tenant turnover is HIS job. You left the house in decently cleaned condition. Replacing fixtures etc. is HIS job (esepcially since they were that way from the begining) You will NOT be paying HIS cleaning bill under any circumstances.

 

You will pay for the stovetop since you told him you would. IF he presses you on the cleaning issue, you will NOT pay for that either.

 

Unless there's something contractual, or he's holding back your deposit, I wouldn't think you'd need to pay a lawyer for this, just create a stink. (If you have a lawyer as a friend or family member, have them write a stern letter on your behalf)

 

Seriously. This sounds NUTS. He should be thanking his lucky stars you were a good tenant, not sticking you with HIS cleaning bill. Sheesh!

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Lawyer. When we rented, we re-painted some walls (with landlord permission) and he told us not to worry about paint spills b/c he was replacing the carpeting b/c it was old. Well, we were careful but a bit of paint did get on the carpet (a small little spot). When we moved, he charged us for the replacement carpet saying that he changed his mind and decided the carpets were good enough, but had to replace them since we spilled paint. :001_huh: Without any written agreement, we were screwed. We had to pay...luckily it was only $500 but still. Get a lawyer. Check your lease over with a fine tooth comb. Check out the lease laws in your area. :grouphug:

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Lawyer. When we rented, we re-painted some walls (with landlord permission) and he told us not to worry about paint spills b/c he was replacing the carpeting b/c it was old. Well, we were careful but a bit of paint did get on the carpet (a small little spot). When we moved, he charged us for the replacement carpet saying that he changed his mind and decided the carpets were good enough, but had to replace them since we spilled paint. :001_huh: Without any written agreement, we were screwed. We had to pay...luckily it was only $500 but still. Get a lawyer. Check your lease over with a fine tooth comb. Check out the lease laws in your area. :grouphug:

 

Meaning, he held back the $ from your security deposit? Replacing carpets is pretty routine in rentals.

 

Not sure how this landlord is going to pursue them long distance. I'd be surprised if the law favored him, but you never know. Still, I'd check the laws before hiring anyone. That's money out of your pocket and you may not need to go to that extent.

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I live in Virginia and from my recent experience renting, my landlords have charged me for cleaning. Even after I scrubbed the entire apartment and left it pretty much spotless, the landlord sent me an inspection sheet and deducted around $50 of my security deposit because they claimed the stovetop hood was greasy and that there was a small cobweb in one of the ceiling corners. It made me mad because I was sure I'd scrubbed the place down and didn't think I'd overlooked anything, plus $50 seemed ridiculous as a charge but I figured it would be too hard to fight it. But now I'm thinking it was even more unfair because the landlord should have expected to do some cleaning between tenants anyway? :confused:

 

In your situation, I would first send a very strongly worded letter laying out your position and firmly stating that you will not be paying the $5000. I don't think you even have to hire a lawyer yet - sometimes just making a bit of a stink is enough to get the offender to back down. It seems like the landlord must know that this is unreasonable and is probably just hoping that you will go along with it because you feel you have no other choice. At least from my experiences dealing with people involved with sketchy business practices, they seem to assume that I am naive because I am a fairly young female but as soon as you start resisting most of them back off.

 

But I'm definitely no expert - but there are a lot of guides out there about landlord and tenant law and what to do in the case of conflict. I think Nolo has a book on the subject? At least I know they have helpful legal books on a lot of other subjects.

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Check your attorney general's office website...they will have a manual for landlords and renters- rights and responsibilities. There should be a section for move-out costs. Unless it was in your lease that you are responsible for normal wear and tear, he doesn't have a leg to stand on. It will also state how many days you have to be informed of those costs (MN is 21).

 

It will be on him to provide proof of damages if it goes to court. He's the one charging these amounts and needs to have proof, itemized bills that are reasonable in cost for the area. Your rental record as you have stated is good and that will be in your favor.

 

I'd send a letter with copied sections of the law referenced to let him know you aren't dinking around here. Let him know you'll expect to see a bill for the agreed upon charges of the stovetop, etc. with all normal wear and tear charges removed. It will cost you less to obtain a lawyer than to pay these charges.

 

I wouldn't know the procedure if he did not desist and put it directly into collections. If he went the civil route I would not feel the least afraid to represent myself in court- being sure you bring a copy of the lease, dates and recollections of conversations about the move-out as well as any photos you may have of when you lived there. Affidavits from upstanding persons who have seen your home and describe it in great condition- that sort of thing. If it went to collections, I'd assume there's an appeals process that you would go through. I haven't had experience with that sort of thing...

 

I'm coming at this from a landlord's perspective- we've been managing properties for over 7 years now. We've always represented the properties in court for evictions and such. I have taken someone to civil court on my own though and so long as you are comfortable being in the right and have your ducks in a row as far as procedure and your own 'proof' so much as you may have I would feel confident. The landlord has to provide proof that there were $5,000 worth in damages and it sounds like that would be impossible. He may be used to having his way in the past or may be ignorant as to what landlord/tenant responsibilities are. Inform him by letter as I said above, showing him you know perfectly well what they are and requesting another statement of what you owe or what you'll be receiving back from your deposit after the smaller amounts are deducted.

 

Hope all goes smoothly- 9 times out of 10 if you know your rights and are confident, things fall into place. You'll have to be willing to see it through to the end if needed of course, but hopefully it won't go that far. Best of luck!

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But now I'm thinking it was even more unfair because the landlord should have expected to do some cleaning between tenants anyway? :confused:

 

 

Nope- tenants are required (in almost all leases) to clean thoroughly upon move-out. This isn't part of normal wear and tear. Good landlords will have a checklist of what they expect for cleaning upon move-out. Unfortunately there are landlords who abuse this- be sure you keep an apartment inventory you sign and have the landlord sign upon move-in and move-out. This states agreed-upon conditions for both parties and lessens the disputes afterward. Photos are great too, but they aren't necessary for the OP. I'd take them before and after along with the inventory when renting for my personal assurance and relief of mind...it's cheap and easy!

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I am confused as to how he is billing you?

 

I get that he can keep your security deposit. Honestly, as a renter, I normally chalk that up as a total loss, as I figure the landlord is going to find some way to spend that on the house, dinging me for it.

 

But billing you? The only legal way he can "bill you" is to take you to small claims court. Prove his case, and then he still has to actually collect from you on his own.

 

I mean, is he just sending some random bill he made up himself on his computer? I am not sure how he would require you to pay that, or why you would even think that you have to pay it, unless you lost in small claims court.

 

Been a renter in 3 states, and yes, I know that each state has different laws, but most still require small claims court to actually collect any money beyond the security deposit.

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We had a bad episode with a landlord early in our marriage. We left the space SPOTLESS. The Landlord and his girlfriend came over, inspected the place, stood out in the front yard and signed the papers saying that everything was alright. He said he would mail us our deposit. Instead, we ended up getting a hateful letter calling us names . . . and saying that he would be keeping our deposit. I was young and am very non-confrontational so we just let him keep our deposit -- my feelings were very hurt, though. Now, looking back on it all I wish I had confronted him. I regret allowing myself to be pushed around -- live and learn. Next time, I will make sure I have a third party present, take pictures and maybe even video the final walk through.

All that said -- if I was in your shoes, I would not let him get away with it.

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Replacing carpets is pretty routine in rentals.

 

 

Wear and tear would be carpet cleaning. Anything beyond that which requires replacement would be charged to the tenant. Carpets are generally good for 5-7 years and aren't cheap, even for the low cost varieties. I can't imagine changing them out like rugs every year!

 

If you move in and they are worn, I'd state that in the inventory or be sure it's mentioned somewhere in writing with the landlord signature. That way if you have normal wear and tear and they are finally at the replacement point when you move out you will not be charged unless there are large stains, etc. All rentals are different- some landlords and renters are fine with more used carpets so long as the rent matches the unit and some want things immaculate- again, with the rent to match. :001_smile: I'd hope you would get an upstanding landlord who is fair and wouldn't pull things like that, but I'd never personally rely on it.

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I am confused as to how he is billing you?

 

I get that he can keep your security deposit. Honestly, as a renter, I normally chalk that up as a total loss, as I figure the landlord is going to find some way to spend that on the house, dinging me for it.

 

But billing you? The only legal way he can "bill you" is to take you to small claims court. Prove his case, and then he still has to actually collect from you on his own.

 

I mean, is he just sending some random bill he made up himself on his computer? I am not sure how he would require you to pay that, or why you would even think that you have to pay it, unless you lost in small claims court.

 

Been a renter in 3 states, and yes, I know that each state has different laws, but most still require small claims court to actually collect any money beyond the security deposit.

 

We bill all the time. It gives a renter the opportunity to make things right before it goes to collection or small claims. We've never taken bill to small claims- it goes directly to collections. If they want to quibble, they can appeal the collections or contest the bill when they receive it in the mail. I would think a renter would be pleased to have a bill in the mail versus a summons to appear in court. Contesting it out of court allows both sides to reach an agreement before a ding is put on someone's record. Not to mention- what a burden for courts...having every single bill brought in to be contested when there's no disagreement most of the time.

 

Much of our bills are for rent owed...these are the tenants that usually have cleaning charges, etc. Of course we cannot make them pay- this is why if they aren't responsive it goes to collections after a time. We have better luck than many, but still- what we bill compared to what we actually receive is small. It would be more costly though to take them to court, adding in those costs, and trying to have wages garnished and such. Sometimes you have to cut your losses, take what you can from the deposit and move on. It would be different with smaller properties, I'm sure. If I were an owner of a duplex or single family property I would be tempted to go the civil route.

 

That being said- 90% of our tenants who move receive their deposit back. The rest have partial or leave with a bill. And that is well deserved. :tongue_smilie: It's always hard to give advice, coming from a landlord perspective. We've seen and heard it all, and while there's lots of shady landlords out there, there seems to be more than enough tenants of the same character who care nothing for the place they live, the people around them, or fulfilling their obligations as a renter. I sometimes don't give advice as I'm not sure if I'm aiding one of the 'losers' or not in their quest to wiggle themselves out of yet another sticky situation of their own making.

 

OP- this is not aimed at you, just in general! Obviously since I posted on this thread, I felt comfortable in giving my two cents. Really, there's nothing in there you wouldn't be able to look up yourself anyway and everyone should be aware of their rights and responsibilities. If the landlord is in the wrong, it will come out and vice versa if it makes it that far. Perhaps I have too much faith in our judicial system...:)

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ugh!!!! :glare: what an awful situation....you would have thought that if something was wrong that he would have said something during the last walk through with you guys.....I'd be upset about it too..never had to deal with anything like that so no real advice-but agree that it sounds way way over priced.....and agree that you should look into the laws of that state....and if you could afford it couldn't hurt to have good leagal advice from an attorney-or at least get a consultation from one-don't they usually give one free? good luck.........

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Okay, so you make up a bill on your computer...but just out of curiosity, how does one send something to collections?

 

I mean, unfortunately, I have been sent to collections, in the past, by credit card companies. But these are major corporations, with their own collection departments, and it evenually gets sold to a third party collector. I get how it works.

 

But how does one, as in individual, ie landlord, send a bill to collections on a another person, ie renter, without it first going through small claims? I am not arguing, just trying to figure out how in the world you prove that you have the right to collect this money, without a judgement, from one person to another person (no major Corporations involved, with large legal teams, etc).

 

Not to mention, once something is sent to colletions, the person "at fault" just had to ask for written proof that they own the money. If it can not be proven, the collection has to stop. If that would come back to you, as the landlord, how would you have any legal documentation, proof, that the renter owed you this money, since you have no court judgement, and just created the bill on your home computer?

 

Could anyone create a bill for another person and then send that to collections, with no legal behind that bill?

 

I am just trying to figure that out?

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Nope- tenants are required (in almost all leases) to clean thoroughly upon move-out. This isn't part of normal wear and tear. Good landlords will have a checklist of what they expect for cleaning upon move-out. Unfortunately there are landlords who abuse this- be sure you keep an apartment inventory you sign and have the landlord sign upon move-in and move-out. This states agreed-upon conditions for both parties and lessens the disputes afterward. Photos are great too, but they aren't necessary for the OP. I'd take them before and after along with the inventory when renting for my personal assurance and relief of mind...it's cheap and easy!

 

I expect to clean up when I leave an apartment, but I also know that most landlords around here hire professional cleaners to clean Every. Single. Apartment. before a new tenant is moved in. I've contracted to clean & paint vacant apartments before, and got paid per apartment-- every one was the same, unless it had some MAJOR issue-- like if we had to clear out the tenant's abandoned belongings or trash. (Cleaning was one fee & painting was another, FWIW.)

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I am confused as to how he is billing you?

 

 

He has sent copies of some invoices and some receipts.

 

The lease states he has 45 days to give us back our deposit or to bill for damages, he has done so within the time frame.

 

I found a copy of the law regarding landlords and tenants-http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/HomelessnesstoHomeownership/PDFs/Landlord_Tenant_Handbook.pdf

 

The wording is vague though and doesn't clearly state what is to be expected by the landlord after move out.

 

 

 

I've been trying to call around for more information.The town Housing authority told me they don't deal with these matters. I called the State Fair Housing authority, they told me to call the Consumer Protection Agency. CPA told me that even hanging pictures on the wall is considered damage, not normal wear and tear and thus he is in the right to bill me.:confused: We didn't use a single nail, but even the small holes caused my Hercules Hooks is damage.

 

I asked about the $800 cleaning service which is listed as "House Detail Clean" on the receipt and she said if I don't have pics to prove it was clean when I left it would be my word against his.

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I asked about the $800 cleaning service which is listed as "House Detail Clean" on the receipt and she said if I don't have pics to prove it was clean when I left it would be my word against his.

 

What about the actual lease agreement? Does the wording of the contract have to include he has the right to charge for all of this at his discretion? I mean, if the lease doesn't say anything about it, does he have the right to just decide to do it?

 

I can't help but wonder if he's reacting to the economy? Maybe it's difficult to rent that house now and in order to make it comparable or better than the competitors, he feels the need to redo the apartment. And he could be seeing if he can squeeze the money out of you to pay for it. I mean honestly, if YOU know that the place was in great condition, doesn't that make his actions suspicious?

 

I'm also surprised at the amount of money. Is he getting quotes from established businesses who have normal advertised rates or is he hiring friends who can charge anything they want?

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I've been trying to call around for more information.The town Housing authority told me they don't deal with these matters. I called the State Fair Housing authority, they told me to call the Consumer Protection Agency. CPA told me that even hanging pictures on the wall is considered damage, not normal wear and tear and thus he is in the right to bill me.:confused: We didn't use a single nail, but even the small holes caused my Hercules Hooks is damage.

 

 

Did your lease say anything about hanging pictures? In one of my prior apartments, I was allowed to hang pictures as long as it was not excessive and it only left a small hole. Also the landlord didn't want paint torn off the walls. But when I moved in there were already some small holes in the walls from prior tenants, so the formal agreement was me adding to them was not a problem. Thus, when I moved out I was not charged anything out of my security deposit for the holes.

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What about the actual lease agreement? Does the wording of the contract have to include he has the right to charge for all of this at his discretion? I mean, if the lease doesn't say anything about it, does he have the right to just decide to do it?

 

I can't help but wonder if he's reacting to the economy? Maybe it's difficult to rent that house now and in order to make it comparable or better than the competitors, he feels the need to redo the apartment. And he could be seeing if he can squeeze the money out of you to pay for it. I mean honestly, if YOU know that the place was in great condition, doesn't that make his actions suspicious?

 

I'm also surprised at the amount of money. Is he getting quotes from established businesses who have normal advertised rates or is he hiring friends who can charge anything they want?

 

No, the lease doesn't have any wording in it regarding house cleaning post move out.

 

He had another renter lined up to move in after our move out. He brought prospective renters over practically every week for 3 months and finally got it rented one week before our move.

 

The quotes for the painting look like they are from a handyman, as they also include the fixtures in the bathroom. The carpet cleaning from Stanley Steamer and the house cleaning and floor refinishing from a local cleaning company. The pressure washing and degreasing of the garage floor (I mean really? My car is a 2006 model minivan and dh's is a 2010 model car which he just purchased a few months prior, there wasn't grease all over the place) was also from a local company.

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Did your lease say anything about hanging pictures? In one of my prior apartments, I was allowed to hang pictures as long as it was not excessive and it only left a small hole. Also the landlord didn't want paint torn off the walls. But when I moved in there were already some small holes in the walls from prior tenants, so the formal agreement was me adding to them was not a problem. Thus, when I moved out I was not charged anything out of my security deposit for the holes.

 

I just looked over it and it doesn't say anything about hanging pics at all.

 

Under "occupancy, use, and maintenance" it basically states I should not disturb my neighbors, damage the premises, not sublease, keep premises including plumbing and other fixtures, appliances, and facilities as clean and safe, and take care of the smoke detector.

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lawyer. and I never say that!

 

:iagree: This landlord sounds like a shark! I certainly would NOT pay $5000! Did he bother to provide detailed (very detailed) itemized verification of what he allegedly paid and repaired? I smell an opportunistic rat.

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Sorry, right now I am in the I hate landlord club and I was a previous landlord for 18 yrs.

 

If you did a move out inspection and he signed the sheet and agreed to what was seen, I dont think he has a leg to stand on. Plus, he told you dont hire cleaners, he will. Then its his responsibility.

 

After our fiasco, my next house, I am going over lease agmt. w/fine tooth comb and crossing out all the things I dont like. And taking pics of everything when I move in.

 

I would say take me to small claims. I am so tired of nasty landlords taking advantage of good tenant, which are hard to find.

 

My theory is , you rent a house, you know you will have to paint , fix and do floors between renters, that is what the rental money is for. If landlord didnt put money aside from the rent, its their tough. If my landlord pulls one of these when we move out, someone is going to read about me in the news.

 

Now , you may throw tomatoes.

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Sorry, right now I am in the I hate landlord club and I was a previous landlord for 18 yrs.

 

If you did a move out inspection and he signed the sheet and agreed to what was seen, I dont think he has a leg to stand on. Plus, he told you dont hire cleaners, he will. Then its his responsibility.

 

After our fiasco, my next house, I am going over lease agmt. w/fine tooth comb and crossing out all the things I dont like. And taking pics of everything when I move in.

 

I would say take me to small claims. I am so tired of nasty landlords taking advantage of good tenant, which are hard to find.

 

My theory is , you rent a house, you know you will have to paint , fix and do floors between renters, that is what the rental money is for. If landlord didnt put money aside from the rent, its their tough. If my landlord pulls one of these when we move out, someone is going to read about me in the news.

 

Now , you may throw tomatoes.

 

No tomatoes. This is good advice.

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Send him a letter stating you are not responsible for the those things and that it is his responsibility as general wear and tear and that you left the rental in a clean, acceptable condition.

 

Let him take you to small claims court if necessary. He would have to prove his case - pictures of a house that was damaged or needed painting and carpet cleaning that went beyond normal wear and tear. If he has no pictures it will be his word against yours. The burden of proof is on him.

 

Do not get bullied into paying for things that you are not responsible for.

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Send him a letter stating you are not responsible for the those things and that it is his responsibility as general wear and tear and that you left the rental in a clean, acceptable condition.

 

Let him take you to small claims court if necessary. He would have to prove his case - pictures of a house that was damaged or needed painting and carpet cleaning that went beyond normal wear and tear. If he has no pictures it will be his word against yours. The burden of proof is on him.

 

Do not get bullied into paying for things that you are not responsible for.

:iagree::iagree:

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There are tenant/landlord laws in each state. Painting most of the time is NOT something that you can be charged for. Painting after each tenant is very common and usually an expected expense.

 

Also, very important, is the way the landlord notified you of this bill. Was it *itemized* and within the time limit he's allowed to send you this bill? In our state, the landlord has 30 days after the last day of tenancy to present the tenants with an itemized bill. If he doesn't have photos and you don't have photos, but he waited too long to send you this bill, it's tough luck for him most likely.

 

Do some research and contact a lawyer if you're not sure how to interpret the law.

 

Some items in the home, depending on the laws again, can be considered beyond the time for "fair use" or something like that and must be replaced at the owner's expense, too.

 

(Our last landlord tried to hit us with a $3100 bill...for things her cleaning lady replaced that were PERFECTLY GOOD and charged the landlady to be reimbursed for!! It was insane. Needless to say, we did not have to pay nearly that much even after 8 years and a few needed, legit repairs. Our carpet, for example, had reached the time that it was considered replaceable on *our* dime so she couldn't charge us for that, either.)

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Sounds like he's looking for you to pay for his home remodel. What a tool. I don't know about a lawyer, but I'd be doing lots of internet research to see what my rights are. Check out NOLO press. They have tons of self help law books, and you might find a copy of what you need at the library.

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Thank you everyone for your advice!!

 

I'm read over the landlord-tenant laws and our lease over and over. I don't see anything in there that says these charges of his are legal, however I don't see anything in there that says he cannot charge for them either. I think it might just be better to get a lawyer. I reran the numbers and he's actually trying to charge us for just under $6000! I've spent the day looking up and calling lawyers (mostly just leaving messages).

 

Do you all think it's better to get a lawyer from the town I used to live in (2 hours away) or from where I am now?

 

I also forgot to post that our ex-landlord also sent a cd with what I would assume to be pictures that he took. We've tried to view it on my computer and dh's computer and nothing comes on the screen. Should I call him and ask him to resend it or just not bother with him and have the lawyer contact him?

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I would recommend a lawyer that is accustomed to the courthouse where the lawsuit is (they understand the Judges better)

 

I would also recommend not talking to the landlord (he seems tricky and could be trapping you )

 

Understand a lawyer could end up costing more than the lawsuit.

Understand a lawyer charges for phone calls (they can charge up to 10 minutes for a 2 minute call)

example---you talk to him 10 min

he talks to other party 10min

he calls you to report answer 10 min

depending on his rate (say..250/hour) you just spent 125.00 to discuss what time to meet to take pictures of the house.

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Does he still have any money you left with him, i.e. cleaning deposit or last month's rent? If so, do you want those back? Right now he can't get any more of his "bill" above any of your monies he has without taking you to court. If he were to take you to court it would probably be small claims court where the limit in VA is $5,000. There are not attorneys in small claims court, so he wouldn't be represented either. Of course you can consult an atty beforehand for advice, but they can't be there speaking for you.

 

How many rental properties does he own? If it is below ten, the Landord Tenant Act doesn't apply to him. "Several types of properties are

 

exempt from the Act, including single-family rental houses where the landlord owns and rents ten or fewer such houses." In that case the lease would control everything.

 

 

 

 

And remember, as pps have said, he has the burden of proof if he brings the lawsuit. He would have to show the rental was in the condition he said it was. Do you have anyone who was in it who could be a witness to the condition before you moved out? Friends who had been in your house, or even better someone who is NOT a friend and has no interest in the outcome of the case would be better. Do you have any pictures of your family that would show the house in the background, like a birthday, or pictures of kids, etc. Don't let him intimidate you!!! I understand the fear this kind of letter can instill, but that's what the landlord wants. He wants you to cave and send the money. Calm down and think about what you know to be true and how you can prove it.

 

 

 

 

Don't communicate with him by phone. If you feel up to the task you could send a letter responding to his initial "bill" by telling simply what you've outlined here, just the facts, don't conceed anything. Ask for your cleaning deposit back if he has it. Then end by saying your next contact will be through your attorney (if you want to hire one)

 

 

 

 

Mary

 

 

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