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As a landlord I went to small claims with a tenant over security depos Security Deposit

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by azlandlord, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. azlandlord

    azlandlord Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Interesting experience here as a landlord. We used a standard Arizona Residential tenant lease. I have a current real estate license. I was living out of state during our tenants occupancy. Three month prior to move-out we had pool filter and equipment fail due to lack of pool service. We were advised of this by neighbor complaints over the green water. Weekly pool service by a licensed provider was vetted and stipulated and signed for by her on the lease. Once we were aware of the issue we discovered that she had never had pool service and could provide no proof of it either. Besides pool equipment she had randomly painted walls and spilled on floors, house was filthy, she had done some very serious things and stated "she was treating it like her very own home". Security deposit was withheld due to damages and repairs above and beyond the deposit. She agreed to and it was documented via email that she would attend the walk-thru final but did a no-show instead. All repairs/details were documented before and after the tenancy. Very detailed with pictures and witnesses. She sued in small claims court for the full deposit. We went before a "hearing officer" for a limited 30 minutes where she continually interrupted and was disruptive. It was to say the least a joke. The hearing officer was not a lawyer, did not have a real estate license and simply said " ok, well , return $500.00 to her our of the $2900.00 because I can't really get a grip on why she didn't attend the walk-thru"..Judgement to us to pay her $500.00. Wrote check that day, mailed to tenant registered/certified that day (his suggestion) and the end result is we now have a $500.00 judgement (although satisfied) on our credit!! 7 years, dropped our credit ficos 100 points!!!
    Moral to the story: give them every nickle and consider it your loss whatever happens. An attorney I contacted told me that bad things happen to good people and that there are tenants who are professional extortionists - they know the threat to landlords and exploit it. Well, I did everything honestly, by the book and the consequence became mine. I just opened a LLC ( was originally told lender had to agree to this - but lawyer said they will never know)...I hope some of you other landlords know this because very few landlords do. Good luck!
     
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If you had obtained legal counsel before all of this you would have known that you did not have to pay the $500. If the matter is not resolved in mediation then you get to go in front of the judge. You don't have to pay a penny until the judge says so.
    Too late for all of that. Lesson learned the hard way. Your credit got dinged, but should you try to make any major purchases where your score is an issue you will have opportunity to explain the judgment.
     
  3. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    At one time I owned dozens of rental properties, and your story is but one example of why I sold them all but six. Those six I later gifted to our children, and a local charity. The charity then converted it for use as a battered women's shelter.

    With our profits we're enjoying ourselves and squirreled a couple nuts away for our old pal, Justin Case. LOL

    I do agree, there are many tenants that make an honest landlord's life a nightmare. All in all, too much work for too little gain, for us anyway.

    I suggest you consider taking your money and running.

    Thank you for sharing, because your story might help an honest person from being victimized.
     

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