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tedd's avatar

Anyone have suggestions for dealing with a landlord trying to rip me off?

Asked by tedd (14013 points ) July 1st, 2012

About 2 months ago I moved out of an apartment I lived in for 20+ months. Yesterday I got the final bill/deposit paper from the landlord (a new management company that took over the property roughly 2 months before I moved out). Not only am I apparently not getting back any of my deposit (one months rent), but they’re trying to charge me $1200 to replace the carpet, pad, etc. They claimed it was damaged/smelled of dog urine.

Now I do have a dog (and a cat) and there were several accidents over the time I lived there. But nothing that I suspect a carpet cleaner wouldn’t have been able to get out. For reference/example, I’ve lived in 6 places prior to this with my dog, and in at least two he did far worse damage… not once did they try to replace the entire carpet and bill me that much money. In fact the one time they did replace carpet in one room (an un-dog-related reason), the bill ended up being a few hundred dollars (and that one room was probably half the size of my entire apartment here).

Furthermore, the carpet was not new when I moved in. It had a few years in it, minimum. It may even be the original carpet from the complex (built in 2005 or 2006).

What recourse do I have here? If I’m not mistaken I can’t be held responsible to pay for brand new carpet because one; the carpet I received was already several years old and had depreciated from it’s original full price cost, and two; I lived on the carpet for 20+ additional months, and the regular wear and tear that would depreciate the value even more is covered in my rent. As explained to me by my father; if I wreck a 1995 Toyota Camry then the insurance company isn’t going to give me the purchase price cost of a 2012 Camry, they’re going to give me the Blue Book value of a 1995 Camry. I also assume the previous landlord probably claimed the apartment depreciation on his taxes, which if I’m not mistaken negates charging me for that same depreciation (a double dip if you will).

Going further than that, I paid an additional $200 at move in (in a non-refundable pet deposit) and an additional $25/month to keep my dog on the premise.

As far as witnesses…. A few days before I moved out I had a repair/maintenance guy in there to fix a leaky faucet. He told me at the time that the carpet would probably need to be cleaned, but that it looked fine and I could just expect to lose a chunk of the deposit on the cleaning (which I fully expected). The day I moved out I had two buddies in the apartment to help me pick up a few last things, one of them was also there the day I moved in, and they will vouch for the condition of the carpet. Lastly, I took a video using my phone of the entire apartment before leaving the last time. Unfortunately the video isn’t of the greatest quality (it’s on my phone), and it was dark so you don’t really get a great view of the carpet.

My assumption is that the new property company decided they just wanted to tear up the carpet and start anew, and they’re trying to bully me into paying for it. They of course have threatened legal action if I fail to pay, but I’m assuming that’s all just part of them trying to bully me. I plan to go in tomorrow on my lunch and have what promises to be a colorful conversation with the manager.

What suggestions do you guys have?

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69 Answers

SpatzieLover's avatar

I don’t have time to give you a full answer now @tedd.

However, here’s my short answer: The Landlord would need to prorate the carpet. Most managment companies have a worksheet or software that they use to do the pro-ration.

The carpet age is taken into account, and so would your time living (paying rent) in the apartment.

Since you paid a pet fee & pet deposit, both of which go to wear & tear and cleaning, that would also come off from the carpet pro rate fee.

In other words, yes, the new company is most likely trying to bully you into paying for the new carpet. Fight!

Write a letter stating all of the above in your details ( especially including the video, the vouching friends and the past apartments) and tell them you think someone forgot to pro rate for the age of the carpet from the time it was installed until the day you moved out.

I can assist you with this further tomorrow, if you like.

tedd's avatar

@SpatzieLover I would love any additional help you could provide. I’m going tomorrow around noon, so ideally before that, but whenever is convenient for you. Thank you!

jrpowell's avatar

Is there any way to have a friend pretend to want to rent the apartment? Just to check and see if the carpet was actually replaced. Or you could try and look in the windows.

tedd's avatar

@johnpowell I went yesterday to “talk” with the manager, but the new company decided they don’t want to be open on Saturdays anymore. I swung by my old apartment to see, but it was very clearly already rented by someone. I didn’t bother them, though I may if this progresses.

jrpowell's avatar

I would bother the current tenets to check. It will take 30 seconds.

I can totally see them billing you and not changing the carpet.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

What is stated in the contract signed when you moved in? Even if it is a new management company who might be changing the rules, your contract regulations should be grandfathered in based upon what you agreed to prior to moving in. When you go to the office tomorrow, how about politely asking where in your contract it states that you are responsible for carpet replacement fees?

tedd's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I am likely going to start by politely (and sarcastically) asking just that. Where in my contract it states that I am due to pay for a brand new carpet? I suspect that the conversation my…. devolve from there though. I take it quite personally when someone tries to rip me off to the tune of over a thousand dollars.

Judi's avatar

I don’t know what state you are in, but most states have laws that say you are entitled to the return of your deposit within a specified amount of time. Some places 30 days, some places 21 days, some places 14 days.
I have never heard of a state giving 2 months but I could be wrong. I also don’t know what recourse your state might have if it’s not returned on time, but I would look into it.
I think you will probably have to take them to court for the return of the share of your deposit that they charged for the carpets. Be prepared though. They will probably counter sue, and the decision will be at the courts discretion.
Have all your paperwork in order. If you had a move in inspection, have that. If move out policies were signed when you moved in, have those available.
Google your State, and Landlord Tenant laws. You will find what applies to you.
Good luck!

cazzie's avatar

It is the cost of having pets. Your pets pee on the carpet, you lose your deposit. There is NO carpet cleaning that really cleans that up. If you had been there to see what the underside of the carpet looked like when they ripped it up, you would have seen the smelly stains on the underside. (Yes, I would make sure to see the bill and the new carpet that was placed down.)

There are almost zero landlords that let you have dogs or cats inside and if you have been allowed, you can be sure there is a clause in your lease that specifically indicates any damage by the pet will be paid for by you.

Where I lived we used to have a tenancy tribunal where you could lodge a complaint against your tenant or your landlord and have all the evidence brought in and things could be mediated. If you still are sure you have been wronged by the extra charge, try small claims or some such.

tedd's avatar

@cazzie I have no problem paying for the damages caused by my pets, but I have a problem believing that the damage was so great as to require the carpet to be replaced… for starters.

More importantly, even if it needed to be replaced, it seems the land lord is charging me for the full price of brand new carpet, when I should be charged for the pro-rated value of carpet that is at least 3–4 years old, and likely older than that.

cazzie's avatar

Well, the weird thing, too, is that most landlords also have renters insurance, but they may have a clause that specifically excludes damage caused by pets.

And, no. They will charge for the replacement cost of the carpet, but that charge does sound excessive, especially considering they are keeping your deposit on top of it. When fixing damage from tenants, it doesn’t work like car insurance and having a new car replace the old one.

Find out at whose discretion the carpet gets replaced and if you should have been given the opportunity to get it clean it. (I never leave a rented place without cleaning EVERYTHING, including renting or hiring a person for the carpets.)

Try small claims. Re-read your lease. Ask for documentation regarding the cost of the carpet replacement. If they were making you pay extra in rent for keeping your pets, they obviously expected more wear and tear. That would make a halfway decent argument. Also, they didn’t give you the option of trying to clean the carpet yourself to get it to a standard where they could agree it didn’t need replacing.

IF it had been new carpet, you would not have a case, but if you can get them in mediation or somesuch and get them to say how old the carpet was originally, you may be in a better place to argue for less.

PurpleClouds's avatar

I see this as a failure on the part of the landlord. If I were renting apartments, especially carpeted ones, I would probably charge a nonrefundable $2,000 pet fee. Even the professionals can’t really get urine smell or stains out of carpet. Who the hell wants to move into a place with leftover urine and worse in the carpet. I just don’t know why any landlord even allows pets unless the floors are concrete. If you want a dog you need to own your home away from crowded city neighborhoods.

PurpleClouds's avatar

Unless you live in a one-room studio, $1200 isn’t going to replace the carpet.

tedd's avatar

@cazzie What I’m reading from Ohio Tenant/Landlord law is that the depreciation of the carpet is a factor.

The second and more difficult issue is pro-rating for the age of an item. Carpet in residential apartments has a certain life expectancy. Even if the carpet was new at move in, and was so terribly damaged after two years that it had to be entirely replaced, the tenant should be credited with two years worth of wear and tear which the carpet would have sustained any way. To keep the example simple, let’s assume a carpet with a five year life expectancy. The tenant ruins the carpet after two years at the apartment. New carpet costs $1,000.00 to install. The landlord’s damages will be $600.00.

If this case goes to litigation over the deposit, it sucks to be you if the tenant had a $900.00 security deposit and you kept it all thinking that you had $1,000.00 in carpet damages. The court will award the tenant $300.00, double it to $600.00, and then set a hearing to determine what the tenant’s reasonable attorneys fees are. It can get even worse if the tenant forces you to admit that you don’t know when the carpet was last installed before he moved in. If you can’t establish before and after evidence of value, you have failed to meet your burden of proof and the tenant wins.”

This is from a summary article about Ohio Landlord/Tenant law (geared towards Land Lords).

tedd's avatar

@PurpleClouds I paid a $200 pet deposit, plus $25/month pet fee. That comes to $700. Add to that the $600ish dollar regular deposit, and on top of that another $1100 that he is charging me for the carpet now. That’s a grand total of $2400 he is charging me for the carpet. Cheap carpet, in a 700 sq. ft. apartment, and the carpet was 4–5 years old already… which from what I’m reading is about it’s life expectancy.

cazzie's avatar

@tedd, I would take it to small claims or equivalent. It sounds like you have a very reasonable case. But first, write a letter quoting this ‘Ohio landlord/tenant law’ and write down all the extra money you paid and how old the carpet was. I don’t trust property management companies and I would NEVER rent with one as the middle man if I could every help it. I like dealing with real people. They are probably just trying this on to cover other costs. Fight it.

I accidentally broke a sink in the last place I rented in New Zealand. (it was plastic… not even fiberglass.. weird) but the landlord was awesome about it. It was a real proper accident. His homeowner/tennant insurance covered it. I made the place new curtains as a ‘sorry’ and everyone was happy. It would have cost them much more than the deductible to have custom curtains made. I had my baby dog there (no accidents on the carpet) and they never charged me extra for anything.

The place before that, I replaced and rebedded all the gardens for my landlord as a ‘thank you’ for letting me keep the stray dog that I had picked up. She was happy. I was happy. My baby dog was happy. I had one accident in that house that didn’t involve the dog too. I flooded the place. Funny story. I got back from holiday in Australia and the water was turned off for the whole street. Having been away for a few weeks I was unaware of any council notice and somehow, instead of turning the tap all the way off, I had opened it all the way and left the plug in the bathtub. Desperate for a cleanup, I went to a friends house. Came home to a flood. Paid the deductible with my tail between my legs, but got my deposit back after fixing up all the gardens for her.

I did have one really bad experience with a landlady once but that had more to do with having to fire her daughter for theft and fraud. (a whole other story)

jca's avatar

I wouldn’t have any conversations verbally. I would put everything in writing. Having an argument (verbal) is not going to help you in any way.

Please post an update as to how things turn out.

JCA
The Update Lady

mowens's avatar

@tedd How much of the apartment was carpeted? (sq footage)

tedd's avatar

@mowens It was a roughly 700 sq. ft. apartment, everything except the kitchen and bathroom were carpeted… I would guess 550–600 sq ft.

Judi's avatar

@ted, the pet rent will not be applied to the damages, but the deposit will.

tedd's avatar

@Judi Why would the pet rent not be applied to damages? What other purpose does the pet rent serve but to offset damages incurred by a pet?

Judi's avatar

@tedd, it is an increase in the negotiated rent. Pet owners are not a protected class under fair housing laws unless it’s a service animal. It is legal to charge a higher rent just because you have a pet.
I didn’t use to accept pets.
As a landlord, dealing with these issues and yippy dogs is a pain in the ass and I just didn’t want to deal with it.
When the concept of pet rent was introduced I thought it would be worth the hassle if it could increase the bottom line.
It is not a “pet damage fund” it is rent.

tedd's avatar

@Judi Ok granted, but rent is supposed to cover the basic wear and tear on an apartment as well as profit the landlord. An increase of rent would mean an increase in cost to offset wear and tear… and I’m almost positive it was stated in the lease that the increased cost was to offset the pet damage.

Even so, I’ve got a 600ish dollar regular deposit, an additional $200 in “pet-deposit”, and they’re charging me $1100 on top of that… to replace 550–600 square feet of cheap, 4–5 year old carpet.

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@tedd I would have your dog piss on whatever money you do have to end up giving them.

Judi's avatar

@tedd, I agree that they are probably trying to get you to pay the entire cost of the carpet, which should have been pro rated. But if you take it to small claims I wouldn’t claim that it could have been cleaned. You can’t get that crap out even with the enzyme stuff. We even tried cleaning carpets and just replacing the pad which is where the smell really gets stuck but it only rarely worked and we ended up having to replace the carpet (and the new pad because the carpet made it stink) anyway. Also, if you have it in writing that pet rent was to offset the cost of damage then you have a huge bonus in court.
I think renters should negotiate apartment rentals via email so you can have all this stuff documented.

mowens's avatar

@tedd Maybe call a carpet place… and see what it would cost to replace that much carpet. With GOOD carpet, not thier cheap shit… then offer to pay the vendor directly. If they give the deposit back.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yeah @Judi came in!

@tedd, two things I read from above:

One, I agree with @jca that all of your communication should be in writing. Even better is if you have copies of emails or notes you took when you called them, to add in with a letter that you send certified to the property managing company. Make certain to notate each date you spoke with a manger or whomever walked you through for your move-out.

Did they mention all of these damages during your move out? Or did they do all of this without you present? Depending on your state laws, this has bearing on whether they can even charge you for damages.

Second, @ cazzie said you wouldn’t have a case if the carpet had been new when you moved in. At least in my state, that is incorrect. Even if you had lived in the place for only one year and you trashed the carpet, we can still only charge the prorate amount for the carpet replacement.

@tedd Everything you said in your most recent response also needs to be in the letter. At most an entire carpet job in a 1200sq ft apt in one of our units costs < $1200. We work out a volume discount directly with a local carpet mill. There’s zero chance your new carpet for 700 sq ft cost $1900.

tedd's avatar

@SpatzieLover Thank you so much for your update…. here’s mine after talking to the guy at the office of the property.

-The guy I spoke to is not in charge of the matter, he forwarded the info onto the regional manager who is in charge of it.
-I inquired about a copy of my lease and was provided a copy of what they have. I wasn’t able to find mine yesterday, but it was a cursory look, so I will be checking again tonight and comparing the two leases.
-According to this lease I paid no security deposit of any kind. My pet rent was $35/month.
-I asked him if he had a receipt from the replacement of the carpet, he said he did not (at least not yet).
-I asked him for an extended itemized list of all damages I was being held responsible for (the one sent to me had 3 items, including the carpet which summed up the vast majority of the bill). He didn’t have one other than what was sent to me.
-I asked him if he knew the last time the carpet had been replaced, he said he couldn’t find that information (he looked through the properties file as I sat there waiting). He was unsure if that information could even be attained.
-I’m not 100%, but the file he had showed that there was only one resident in the apartment before me (it had the residents and all their info filed in order of residence). That person moved in in 2004, which is when the complex was finished (not 2005–2006 as I had thought).
-This means to me the carpet could very well have been eight years old at the time of me moving out.
-The Apartment is exactly 690 sq. ft. Of that space, the kitchen, bathroom, closet for washer/dryer, utility closet, and small front door closet… are all tiled or cement (no carpet). I would estimate the total carpeted area in the apartment to be between 500 and 600 sq ft.
@SpatzieLover Going along with the info you just mentioned and the size of the apartment, they’re charging me $1100 to replace carpet that appears to have been as old as 8 years.

I called the regional manager, but he was not in so I left a message explaining the situation and leaving my information. In that message I pointed out that everything I’m reading online and getting through legal consul suggests he is charging me a ridiculous sum. My earlier message, which was forwarded to him (or at least the content of it) pointed out that I have no qualms going to court (though it was in the heat of the moment so the wording was not that friendly). I already looked up a lawyer, and should a call with the manager not end to my liking, I plan to seek legal consul.

What do you guys think ?

jca's avatar

I think everything you said to both the guy in person and the voicemail should be followed up with either an email or a letter (snail mail).

Judi's avatar

You usually can’t take an attorney to small claims. You really need to find your evidence of a security deposit paid, or your screwed there.
Otherwise, it looks like you’re getting your dockets in a row for a small claims action. Did you happen to notice the name and exact move in date of the previous resident? Having specifics like that when you go to court would be beneficial to you.

tedd's avatar

@Judi I did not notice that info. I didn’t want to dig through the files, I’m not sure what expectation of privacy the past tenants have under the law. At first the guy asked if I had moved in in 2004, and I said, no that ones not me… Then he went through a few papers and I was the next one on the list.

Do you know what the minimum amount of money is to get out of small claims court? I have no issues taking it to small claims court, but if this progresses that far I have every intention of getting a lawyer involved, even if it’s just for consul and to send threatening letters.

jca's avatar

@tedd: If I’m not mistaken, Small Claims Court is if you want something from them. Since they want something from you and not the other way around, then let them make the first move. I still don’t understand why you’re having verbal conversations and not written ones.

tedd's avatar

@jca Thus far I’ve recorded the conversations, but I am about to e-mail the regional manager with all of the information, so that I have some “written” record.

Judi's avatar

Small claims limits vary by state. Here in CA it’s $2500 max (I think.)
The problem is that he couldn’t find the record of your deposit.
I think you should take advantage of the fact that there’s a management change and this manager seems to be so nice and try and get a print out of your ledger. Evidence of your deposit SHOULD be posted there.

jca's avatar

@tedd: Hopefully you gave deposit by check and can obtain a copy of it, if necessary.

tedd's avatar

@jca @Judi It is entirely possible that there was no deposit and I simply thought there was. Assuming that’s the case obviously I won’t be pressing for the refund of said deposit (as it wouldn’t exist). But I still intend to fully fight the charges they are trying to incur on the carpet damages, as they are downright ridiculous. $1100 for 550ish sq ft of dirt cheap carpet, that was from the looks of it 8 years old…. Not happening. In fact depending on what the former landlord claimed on his taxes, the IRS may view the carpet as completely useless from what I’m seeing.

As far as determining if there was a deposit. It would most definitely have been paid via check, and I’ve already pulled my bank records from the month I moved in and the month prior. I plan to dig out the appropriate check copies from my own records when I get home and see if any of them are a deposit.

tedd's avatar

@SpatzieLover Forgot to mention, I was not present when they went through and checked for damages.

SpatzieLover's avatar

You need to either ask an attorney or if you have a nice new Landlord, ask her/him what your state laws are about damages.

The property manager should have done a move-out walk through with you to note damages, checked that the unit was clean, etc. This should have been compared to the check-in sheet they’d have filled out with you at the time of your move-in. Often, this is all done on one form from your tenant file. Move-in checklist is on one column, move out is next to it. Then, you sign & date the sheet at move in & again to verify the findings at your move out.

tedd's avatar

UPDATE:

I just called the Regional Manager for like the 5th time (he’s called me a few times too). I decided to leave him a voicemail stating my case since phone tag is pretty boring. Here is the exact transcript of what I left him (I recorded it using my phone).

Mr X, it’s Matt X, phone number XXX-XXX-XXXX. I’m just gonna leave you a voicemail cuz we keep playing phone tag. Uhh, I don’t plan on paying for any of this damage that you’re trying to pin on me. It was all just regular wear and tear; I mean that carpet was at least two years old when I moved in, or I – I lived on it for two years, and it wasn’t new when I moved in. And I know that it can only be rated for 5–10 years, and I’m guessing the previous property manager probably put it closer to the 5 mark for tax issues. Uh, I know you can’t charge me full price on that and from what I can gather from talking to X (the apartment complex) you guys don’t even know the last time it was installed, so I know right away it’ll get tossed out in Small Claims Court.

Uh, as far as the drawer; you guys had a maintenance person in there two days before I moved out. He told me that I didn’t need to worry about it, that it was a repair job that had gone wrong and I wouldn’t be charged for it. And as far as the drip pans, I mean that’s, that’s regular wear and tear. And besides all that, Fair Market Value on these items is wayyy less than what you’ guys are charging me.

If you’d like to take this to Small Claims Court, I have no concerns whatsoever taking it to Small Claims Court. Uh, if this ends up on a Credit Report of mine, the next issue you’ll hear from me will be regarding a lawsuit and you’ll be hearing from my lawyer on that.

If you’d like to return any comments to me, please give me a call, let me know. But like I said, I’m not planning on paying any of this. Have a good day.

I plan on sending him a certified letter containing all this information (written out nicely without the uh’s, lol) in a day or two. I want to give him time to respond to me, though I suspect it won’t change my stance on anything.

What do you guys think?

jca's avatar

I think your wording was unprofessional and you would have been better off just putting this in writing. Also, leaving a voicemail on someone’s phone, even if you recorded it, enables them to say they never got it, it was deleted by accident, etc. I would not have given him a heads up with the issues you left if I were you. I would have just put it in writing and also had a conversation with him, not leaving a voicemail with the colloquial, slang English (“you’re trying to pin on me” = “you’re attempting to charge me for”).

tedd's avatar

@jca Well he can erase it all he wants, like I said, the certified letter is coming. As far as giving him a heads up on the issues…. this isn’t something I can exactly hide from him. Him knowing my arguments against him makes them no less valid or more defensible against. If it was going to progress forward to a court issue, everything would come out before that anyways.

I’m also not too worried about the slang in the call, which I thought was pretty minimal. I mean it wasn’t exactly penned by a lawyer and read verbatim, but it got the point across and let him know where I stand on the issue.

Judi's avatar

I think you will have to wait and see how he responds. I think you’re stuck with the drip pans. I would ask for receipts though. In most states, they can’t charge more than it actually cost.

tedd's avatar

@Judi Yah that may be the case, but I plan on fighting tooth and nail for every penny. If he’d just sent me a bill for drip pans, I probably would’ve paid it (even the ridiculous amount of $25 they’re trying to charge) and been done with it. But this carpet business has soured me on the entire thing.

jca's avatar

@tedd: I would make sure that the letter you send is worded properly, as if it comes out in court, you want to sound as good as possible. Avoid colloquial English, stick with proper wording.

tedd's avatar

@jca Oh yah I had planned on wording it nicely. I’m trying to find a template of a lawyers letter for similar reasons, and use that as a model. A guy I know is looking to see if he still has one his lawyer wrote to an old landlord a few years back.

jca's avatar

@tedd: Look at sites for “business letter” templates. Tell them what you’re going to tell them (i.e. opening paragraph), tell them, and then tell them what you told them (closing paragraph). For example, “I’m writing in reference to the recent charges in reference to the supposed damage to the carpeting and blah blah blah that I received upon terminating my rental agreement with my apartment at 123 Main Street, Anytown.”

New paragraph: When I moved into the apartment, in May of 2010, I agreed to pay an extra $ per month for my dog, in addition to a $200 non-refundable deposit at move-in. At that time, the carpeting was already five years old and had wear marks and stains from the previous tenant(s). When I moved out, I was very diligent with cleaning the apartment blah blah blah.” No emotion, proper wording, no extra crap other than sticking to the facts.

SpatzieLover's avatar

You need to be as professional as possible. With EVERY move out, we change the drip pans, the toilet seat and the locks. In most states you cannot be charged for any of the above, period.

I agree with @jca completely. I’ve found complaint letters online for hospital overcharges, etc. So can you. Be factful, tactful and emotionless. On most form letters, there is a “otherwise I’ll have to turn this over to my legal assistance” as the ending. You need to kill them with all of the facts you know.

On __________date I moved in under the management of____________. We completed a move in walk thru and I noted __________&_________damages, wear & tear, and moved into a unit with _________yr old carpeting. Upon move out, the manager from _________property management failed to walk thru at ___________time. Due to the lack of a walk thru I was unaware of __________damages. These damages were noted at the time of my move in.

You get the gist?

tedd's avatar

@SpatzieLover Yep. Thankyou…. If I’ve not heard back by Monday I plan on sending out a letter stating something along those lines. I’ll probably post the content of it here so you guys can check it for me, assuming you don’t mind :)... Thanks guys!

tedd's avatar

Ok, here’s the letter I’m sending out today or tomorrow, what do you think ???

I am writing you in regards to my former residence, the apartment at 2403 Collier Crest in the Collier Park Apartment Complex. Although I was unable to reach you directly via the telephone, I left several messages stating my stance on the matter of the move out charges you sent to me. I also was in contact directly with the staff at Collier Park regarding the matter. This letter is simply a written rehash of that meant as a hard copy for both of our records going forward.

As stated in my messages, I do not feel I am responsible for paying any of the charges you have billed to me. As well as having two witnesses who were in the apartment with me the day I moved out, I took a video of the entire apartment moments before locking the door for the final time and dropping off the keys. I believe those witnesses and the video will very plainly support my following statements. I will address the charges individually from here:

The Stove Drip Pans: It is my understanding that the general wear and tear lifespan of these drip pans is only a few years. Even if I were responsible for paying to replace the drip pans, it would be a pro-rated value that subtracts the lost value of the original drip pans based on their age. I lived at the apartment for 21 months, and as such I suspect the drip pans (which were not new when I moved in) were past their expected lifespan. Furthermore, upon speaking with several landlords (both inside and outside of Ohio) I found that most replace the drip pans regardless of need every time there is a new tenant without charging the previous tenant for their cost. I also must point out that the fair market value of drip pans (as I found via several local retailers) is roughly $12, well below the $25 you have charged me.

The Kitchen Drawer: Several days before I moved out a repairman from your company visited the residence to repair the shower faucet for me. I unfortunately do not remember his name, though I can describe him if you’d like (most prominently I remember he had a large tattoo on his calf). While the repairman was in the residence I showed him the drawer. I told him that I had the tools required to repair the drawer (a drill, screw driver, and several small screws), and asked if I would be charged for the drawer if I left it as it was. The repairman examined the drawer, and then told me that I didn’t need to worry about it. He said (and I’m paraphrasing here) that it was clearly a repair job the previous company had done that had simply failed, and that they would repair it and I would not be charged for it whatsoever. Based upon this statement from your repairman, I left the drawer as it was found at the time of move out.

Going beyond the repairman, even if I had blatantly broken the drawer and not inquired to its repair prior to moving out; the wear and tear lifespan again must come into play here. The drawer in question was clearly the original drawer installed when the apartment complex was built, I believe back in 2004 (I know there was a resident in the apartment at least that long ago). That would put the drawers age at 8 years. I again suspect this is well outside the expected lifespan of a drawer, meaning the cost to me should have been nothing.

I also must question the need to replace a drawer that could be repaired by any person with a power drill and a few screws. In the video I captured of the apartment prior to moving out I very clearly examined this drawer, and I believe the video will support the fact the drawer did not need to be replaced at all.

The Carpeting and Pad of the Entire Apartment: With regards to this charge I again would like to question the need to replace the carpet at all. I spoke to my witnesses at great length about this, and reviewed my video multiple times to examine the condition of the carpet. While I could be in agreement that the carpet quite likely would have required a good vacuuming and carpet cleaning (which would have been covered under wear and tear), it was not in my opinion in such a state that it needed to be replaced before a new tenant moved in.

Going beyond that statement though; I again must bring up the expected life span and wear and tear of the carpet. In my research I found that carpet can have a valued life span of 5–10 years. When charging a former tenant the cost of replacing the carpet, the landlord must account for the devaluation that would have occurred anyways with regular aging. I lived on the carpet for 21 months (nearly two years) and it was not new when I moved in. I inquired with the staff at Collier Park to find the last date on which the carpet was replaced, and no information to this fact could be found on site. I went further and contacted Crawford-Hoying (the former property manager who relinquished control of the property to your company a few months prior to my moving out) at their local offices, and inquired with several people there (including the former Collier Park property manager), and they were unable to find any information about the date the carpet was last replaced either. It is my understanding that without this information, a small claims court will find that you have no grounds upon which to charge me anything for the carpet.

Furthermore, I paid an additional $35 per month for a pet fee. It was stated to me upon moving in that this fee was towards the wear and tear damage that my pet would incur upon the apartment (including the carpet). The final cost I paid in this fee would come to $735. I also again have to point out that the fair market value for the roughly 550 square feet of carpet in the apartment is well below the roughly $1100 you have billed me.

Conclusion: Please be aware that if you take this matter to small claims court, I am fully prepared to retain legal assistance and confront you on the matter in that arena. I have few doubts that a judge/arbiter will find me to me not responsible for any of the charges you have billed me, and I am completely comfortable defending myself on the matter in front of one. Should this matter be reported to any credit agencies as an outstanding debt (without being further resolved in court), I will be retaining a lawyer for the purposes of pursuing a lawsuit against your company (or whomever reports the debt). If you would like to contact me regarding this issue, please feel free to do so at your earliest convenience. While I am comfortable speaking to you on the telephone regarding the matter, given our mutual busy schedules and the official nature of our communications, regular mail or e-mail will likely prove the most fruitful. Thanks for your time,

Sincerely,

Sorry if the format didn’t copy/paste perfectly. Any suggested additions/subtractions/rewordings/etc???

RandomMrAdam's avatar

I found the entire thing very personalized instead of informative. The conclusion can be more personal I suppose, but I find many of the details in each item very unnecessary. I have cut a bit of it out… it’s posted below:

I am writing you in regards to my former residence, the apartment at 2403 Collier Crest in the Collier Park Apartment Complex. I have left you several voicemail messages regarding move-out charges as I have been unable to reach you directly on the phone to discuss them. I contacted staff at Collier Park regarding the matter as well. This letter is meant to explain my refutation to the charges you’ve issued me as well as a hard copy for your records moving forward.

The charges you billed to me were unwarranted for several reasons. Upon moving out, I took a video of the entire apartment and its condition while having two witnesses present. The video, as well as the witnesses will prove evident that the items charges are overstated and/or erroneous. Below are my detailed refutes to your charges:

The Stove Drip Pans: By law, tenants are entitled to repairs of ordinary wear and tear, without being charged. The drip pans were not new when I moved in and the condition was not outside of ‘wear and tear’ standards. I will note that the fair market value of drip pans in that apartment is roughly $12, less than half the $25 you have charged.

The Kitchen Drawer: I asked a repairman, who was at my residence days before moving out, about the kitchen drawer. While the repairman was in the residence I showed him the drawer. I told him that I had the tools required to repair the drawer, and asked if I would be charged for the drawer if I left it as it was. The repairman examined the drawer, and then told me that I didn’t need to worry about it. He informed me that it looked to be a repair job the previous company had done that had simply failed. He went on to say that they would repair it and I would not be charged for it whatsoever. Based upon this statement from your repairman, I left the drawer as it was found at the time of move out. In the video I captured of the apartment prior to moving out I very clearly examined this drawer, and I believe the video will support the fact the drawer did not need to be replaced at all.

The Carpeting and Pad of the Entire Apartment: Typically professional carpet cleaning can be performed to avoid carpet replacement. I will ask that you provide documented evidence in which a carpet cleaning service or other carpet professional recommended a full replacement in lieu of cleaning. I spoke to my witnesses at great length about this, and reviewed my video multiple times to examine the condition of the carpet. It was not in my opinion that the carpet was in such a state that it needed to be replaced before a new tenant moved in.

If you did replace my carpet; by law, landlords must charge based on life expectancy of the carpet which is generally 10 years. I inquired with the staff at Collier Park to find the last date on which the carpet was replaced, and no information to this fact could be found on site. I went further and contacted Crawford-Hoying (the former property manager who relinquished control of the property to your company a few months prior to my moving out) at their local offices, and inquired with several people there (including the former Collier Park property manager), and they were unable to find any information about the date the carpet was last replaced either. As the complex was built in 2004, and you cannot provide evidence for when the carpet was last replaced, the most you can charge me for the carpet is 20% of new carpet value.

Additionally, I paid an added $35 per month pet fee. It was explained to me upon moving in that this fee would contribute to the wear and tear damage that my pet would incur upon the apartment (including the carpet). During my residency, my pet fee’s equated to $735. I will point out that the fair market value for 550 sq. ft. of carpet in the apartment is well below the roughly $1100 you have billed me.

Conclusion: Please be aware that if you take this matter to small claims court, I am fully prepared to retain legal assistance and confront you on the matter in that arena. I have few doubts that a judge/arbiter will find me to me not responsible for any of the charges you have billed me, and I am completely comfortable defending myself on the matter in front of one. Should this matter be reported to any credit agencies as an outstanding debt (without being further resolved in court), I will be retaining a lawyer for the purposes of pursuing a lawsuit against your company (or whomever reports the debt). If you would like to contact me regarding this issue, please feel free to do so at your earliest convenience. While I am comfortable speaking to you on the telephone regarding the matter, given our mutual busy schedules and the official nature of our communications, regular mail or e-mail will likely prove the most fruitful. Thanks for your time.
Sincerely,

mowens's avatar

@tedd When dealing with stuff like this, it is best to be as quick and to the point as possible.

You’re letter is not that.

tedd's avatar

@mowens Agreed, but I was still burdened with including all of the details for every facet of the letter. Do you have suggestions on how to shorten it, but still maintain the “meat” of the letter?

I plan on revising it (this is a rough draft), but am looking for suggestions.

mowens's avatar

@RandomMrAdam STFU adam. I was in a hurry! ;)
@tedd Yes. Ibut first, I forget. Are they charging you 1100 on top of your security deposit?

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@mowens I think @tedd mentioned earlier that he “may not have” put a deposit down, he forgot. The complex is saying that he didn’t put one down, so unless @tedd can prove that he did, then its just the $1,100 for everything.

mowens's avatar

@RandomMrAdam btw i think it is cute that you and your brother’s avatars are different characters from the same movie.

@tedd What bank do you have? With PNC my online statements go back 5 years….

RandomMrAdam's avatar

@mowens Haha, I thought that was funny too – which is why I chose this avatar.
@tedd – Let me know how it turns out.

jca's avatar

I like the letter from @RandomMrAdam better but one change. I would not mention “If you take this matter to small claims court.” I would put it more vaguely as in “if you decide to pursue legal action.” I also would not sound so confident “I have few doubts that a judge would blah blah blah.” With judges, you can never be too sure, and I also would not want to sound like you’re predicting the outcome ahead of time (to a judge, who will be reading your letter should it end up in court). I would just put something to the effect of “If you decide to pursue legal action, we can discuss this further in that arena.” No need to state you will retain legal assistance, that’s neither here nor there. Just keep it vague.

tedd's avatar

@jca I like the recommendation with the exception of the taking out retaining a lawyer. Most people in the business I’ve talked to said to be sure to include that bit, as the mere threat of it is often enough to derail a lot of over-aggressive landlords. Many people have suggested I don’t even mail this letter until it’s written and approved by a lawyer, and printed with their header on it.

jca's avatar

@tedd: Understood. So then (my suggestion) just put something like “Should you pursue legal action my attorney will be handling this matter on my behalf” or something like that.

tedd's avatar

what do you guys think….

I am writing you in regards to my former residence, the apartment at 2403 Collier Crest in the Collier Park Apartment Complex. I have left several voicemails regarding the matter of move out charges as I have been unable to reach you directly. I have also contacted the staff at Collier Park on the matter. This letter is meant as a hard copy of my stance on the issue, for both of our records going forward.
Upon moving out I had two witnesses present and I filmed a video of the condition of the apartment. The video and witnesses will confirm the erroneous nature of the charges in question. I am not responsible for the charges you have billed me, for several reasons. I will address the charges individually from here:
The Stove Drip Pans: By law, tenants are entitled to repairs of ordinary wear and tear, without being charged. The drip pans were not new when I moved in and the condition was not outside of ‘wear and tear’ standards. I will note that the fair market value of the drip pans is roughly $12, less than half the $25 you have charged.
The Kitchen Drawer: I asked a repairman, who was at my residence days before moving out, about the kitchen drawer. While the repairman was in the residence I showed him the drawer. I told him that I had the tools required to repair the drawer, and asked if I would be charged for the drawer if I left it as it was. The repairman examined the drawer, and then told me that I didn’t need to worry about it. He informed me that it looked to be a repair job the previous company had done that had simply failed. He went on to say that they would repair it and I would not be charged for it whatsoever. Based upon this statement from your repairman, I left the drawer as it was found at the time of move out. In the video I captured of the apartment prior to moving out I very clearly examined this drawer, and I believe the video will support the fact the drawer could have been easily repaired, and did not need to be replaced at all. I also must point out the ordinary wear and tear laws again, as the drawer in question was clearly the original drawer from the opening of the complex.
The Carpeting and Pad of the Entire Apartment: Typically professional carpet cleaning can be performed to avoid carpet replacement. Going forward, I will ask that you provide documented evidence in which a carpet cleaning service or other carpet professional recommended a full replacement in lieu of cleaning. I spoke to my witnesses at great length about this, and reviewed my video multiple times to examine the condition of the carpet. It is not in my opinion that the carpet was in such a state that it needed to be replaced.
Regardless; by law, landlords must charge for carpet replacement based on the life expectancy of the carpet which is generally 5–10 years. I inquired with the staff at Collier Park to find the last date on which the carpet was replaced, and no information to this fact could be found on site. I went further and contacted Crawford-Hoying (the former property manager) at their local offices, and inquired with several people there (including the former Collier Park property manager), and they were unable to find any information about the date the carpet was last replaced either. As such the carpet very well may have been the original carpet from when the complex was opened, which would likely incur me 0% of the cost of replacement, pending the claimed lifespan of the carpet by the original owner.
Additionally, I paid an added $35 per month pet fee. It was explained to me upon moving in that this fee would contribute to the wear and tear damage that my pet would incur upon the apartment (including the carpet). During my residency, my pet fee’s equated to $735. I will also point out that the fair market value for 550 sq. ft. of carpet in the apartment is well below the roughly $1100 you have billed me.
In conclusion, if you would like to pursue this matter further in a legal arena, I am fully prepared to retain a lawyer and defend myself. Should this matter be reported to any credit agencies as an outstanding debt (without being further resolved legally), I will be retaining a lawyer for the purposes of a lawsuit against your company or whomever reports the debt. This will be my final communication regarding the matter until such a time that is brought to my attention by a court of law. Thank you for your time,
Sincerely,

jca's avatar

Two suggestions: when you discuss someone (i.e. property manager), name them. For example, “The property manager at Smith Company, Robert Jones.”

Also, provide contact information, “If you would like to discuss this further, I can be reached at (212) 555–1212 or you can email me at 123@aol.com.

tedd's avatar

@jca My information will be at the bottom of the letter, but unless they intend to take this to court I do not plan to have further contact.

jca's avatar

@tedd: Ok, just put the guys’ names in the letter, not just their titles.

tedd's avatar

@jca Yep, got his name in there. I excluded it here for privacy reasons.

jca's avatar

@tedd: Super. Please don’t forget to post an update! Good luck!

mowens's avatar

@tedd Still too long. But make sure you send it certified mail.

tedd's avatar

I sent basically that exact letter (the last one I posted) to the landlord at the beginning of the week. I’ve not heard back any answer yet, but I sent it certified mail and checked to see that they have in fact received it. I’ve not heard anything from them period since my last voicemail.

I’ll update you guys if they do respond. I figure I would have to hear something within a matter of a month or two.

mowens's avatar

Update?

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