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Do I take my landlord to small claims? Security Deposit

Discussion in 'Other Residential Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by KIMBERLEEA, Feb 8, 2015.

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  1. KIMBERLEEA

    KIMBERLEEA Law Topic Starter New Member

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    My husband and I moved to a rental property in 2009 that was owned by a family member. The day we moved in was the day the previous renters moved out. Little to no cleaning had been done prior to move in and since it was family, no pre-move in inspection was done or any legal documents drawn up. In 2013 we had a falling out with our family(landlord) and they hired a property mgmt. company to come in. In order to stay in the house, they had us sign a year lease and give a refundable security and pet deposit. I had wrote a punch list of all the things that needed to be fixed as well as existing damage upon move in and they said that would be considered the move-in inspection. In 2014 I filed for divorce due to domestic violence and we only had 1 month left on our lease and I couldn't pay last months rent and I told the property mgmt. to keep my deposit and apply it toward last months rent and I would only owe them another $250 (difference between rent owed and security deposit on file) They said security deposit could not be used for that and it is meant for damages etc. and they would send me an itemized bill within 14 days if there was any damage. Three months after moving, I received a bill in the mail for $3850 ( unpaid rent $1500 + 250 late fee + 2100 damages). They subtracted my deposit of $1250 which brought my owing balance down to $2600. I asked for copies of the bills and they had a $1000 cleaning bill in there. I asked for itemization what was cleaned specifically and why did it take 20 hrs when I left it cleaner than when we moved in. No response from them. They had invoices for mowing the yard, a broken window that were dated for work performed 2 months after move-out. The yard was mowed and there was no broken window on move-out. They said it looks like the window was broken from the outside. I went rounds with mgmt. company for 6 months over these bills and they said some of the bills were invalid because they were noted on the hand written punch list. I agreed to pay them $500 (remaining rent after deposit and 250 late fee) and no other charges. They sent the info to the owner of the house and they said my punch list wasn't valid and I did not have a move-in inspection because they never did one, so they tacked back on all of the items that the mgmt. co was going to take off. Now it is in collections. I disagree with all but $500, what to do? I do not feel they fulfilled there 14 day requirement as they had my address and I never got anything nor did they get the letter back supposedly. I sent a validation letter to collection agency already. If I take them to small claims I am not sure what I would ask for as I believe they can keep my deposit for the 1 month rent. I just want the rest of the ridiculous charges dropped. How should I proceed?
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You proceed as you decide.
    No one can tell you what the right choice is for you.
    Small claims is an option, as is paying every dollar they demand, or ignoring it and hoping they'll let it go.

    Your former husband is also on the hook for these alleged charges.
    You need NOT choose to pay everything.
    You can "sic" the collection agency on his tail, too!
    Unless your divorce absolved him of all liability, you and he remain severally and jointly liable.

    Good luck.
     
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  3. KIMBERLEEA

    KIMBERLEEA Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for your reply. Yes they sent my ex to collections as well since he was on the lease. He knows he is half responsible but is letting me deal with the legal stuff. Does anyone know if I were to file in small claims if I have to list him as the plantiff as well or if I can file it by myself. Should I wait for a response from the collection agency before moving forward?
     
  4. disagreeable

    disagreeable Well-Known Member

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    Sue for a full refund of your deposit. Argue each point out in court and allow the judge to decide.
     
    KIMBERLEEA likes this.
  5. KIMBERLEEA

    KIMBERLEEA Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you. It is so confusing because they lumped everything together including my 1 months unpaid rent and then kept my full deposit. So even if I win my full deposit and all of the bills are considered bogus, I will have to give them the $ back for the rent. This is the main point I was concerned about in filing in small claims and how this would work. I think I will ask the management company to specifically tell me how they applied my deposit and see if I get a response. Also does anyone know if I can sue for double the deposit since I was not notified about my charges until well after the 14 days?
     

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