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General Discussion October 12, 2016 at 9:03 pm

Landlord charged for painting – can we win in court?

Hi all,
I’m hoping someone who went through a similar situation might be able to offer advice or share their experience. Do we have a good chance of winning our case in small claims?

We moved out of our apartment in the middle of August. It was a 1BD/1BA condo, and we had lived there for 20 months. The people we hired to clean the place did a super awesome job, and we left everything in great condition. We had a pretty quick turn around between the moving, cleaning, and walk through because our landlord is currently living in another country, and he was back in the US for a limited time, during which he wanted to do the key exchange. So we didn’t have any time to do additional work, if the landlord pointed anything out.

We did the walk through, and the only things that my landlord pointed out were that there was a bit of pink mildew in the tub grout (like maybe an inch) and there were a couple places where the wall was scuffed; one in the closet and one in the hallway (and possibly the living room). These scuffs were pretty minor. The landlord pointed them out, said something along the lines of, “I’m not sure if I’m going to have to paint that.” Did not directly say he was going to charge us for anything. For what it’s worth, the apartment was NOT freshly painted when we moved in.

Forty four days later, he sent us an email saying that he needed to paint the apartment, and that it cost him $1000, but he was only going to charge us $500 because he realized that they had a part to play in keeping up the apartment. This was the cost for painting the entire apartment, not just the scuffs (we confirmed this with him). We’re pretty sure that for the condition of the apartment when we moved in and the length of time that we were there, that these scuffs would constitute normal wear and tear. On top of that, the landlord did not send us an itemized receipt, nor did he send us the interest on the deposit (both of which by our lease and the law he is required to do).

We’re still doing some research on how exactly small claims will work with an out of country landlord (will he get served overseas??), but we plan on taking legal action if they do not agree to give us our money back. However, I would like to know if others have had to fight for their security deposit after being charged for painting? Did you win? The regulations are a little murky on where painting falls. We don’t want to go in with a case on shaky legal ground, then have to pay for his (likely hefty) plane fare if he counter-sues.

Thanks!

Real Estate April 25, 2016 at 9:34 pm

Property manager didn't give landlord notice, keeping our deposit

Trying to find out what my rights are as the tenant and what my landlord could do on his side.

Basically, I sent my 30 days notice to the property manager, which he acknowledged. He asked me to tell him when he could do the move-out inspection and I emailed asking if it had to be a weekday or could be a weekend and also asking that they give me notice before showing the apartment since I have a dog (even offered to help show it so the owner didn’t have to come down from NY). No response. I email a week later asking again and offering a few dates that work. Still no response. I finally email again on the 7th of the new month asking when they can do it so i can get my deposit back and they schedule for the next morning.

Fast forward EXACTLY 45 days to last friday (when they need to return the deposit by law) and I get an email saying that because I didn’t “turn in my keys” until the 8th, they’re keeping a week of rent. Now, I probably should have attempted again to schedule the inspection before the first but I did make two attempts to schedule with no response from them. When I mentioned this, the property manager said he understood my frustration but that I had not tried to contact anyone else at his company, so I was out of luck. He is my only point of contact and I only knew his information because after trying to email our original manager and the email bounced back; and a call to the office revealed that he had left the company and no one had told us who our new manager was.

So I reach out to the owner and it turns out that they didn’t tell him that we were moving out until the 8th when they did the inspection! He lost a month’s rent (maybe more?) because he thought I would notify him directly and the manager didn’t say anything to him. So now, not only is there financial loss, but I’ve lost the great relationship I’d built with my landlord and can never use him as a reference.

It gets even more shady though – making small talk with the manager when he came to do the inspection, I asked if the landlord had decided to redo the floors and not rent it out right away (and hence why they hadn’t shown the apartment at all during the last month). He replied that he thought the owner was still “deciding what to do with the property” but that he was “sad to hear we were leaving”. So he made it sound to me like he had already talked to him and told him we were leaving.

Finally, I got a letter from them today postmarked the 23rd with the “itemization of security deposit” forms, the box checked to indicate the check was enclosed – with no check. So they’ve now blown past the 45 day requirement to give me my money back.

Are they super shady our just super incompetent? Do I/my landlord have any legal recourse against them for the money? Do I take the loss and try and salvage the relationship with my former landlord?

Events February 1, 2016 at 7:38 am

Help with Tenant law? Is this legal?

Hi guys!

My roommate and I have shared an English Basement in Petworth for over a year now. However, our apartment recently flooded due to a drainage problem. It cost almost $3000 to clean and repair and now our landlords are trying to charge us the costs of the damage.

They are claiming that it stemmed from flushing tampons (which I seriously doubt for many reasons). And citing the abnormal usage part of our lease to justify this charge.

What do you think? Is the law on our side on this one? What steps can we take to protect ourselves?

Real Estate January 20, 2015 at 11:45 am

Five Days Without Water… What's my recourse?

Hi Folks,

I live in a larger apartment complex where last week we did not have hot water for nearly 5 days. The hot water was off from Tuesday afternoon through Sunday morning. The management company provided the tenants with limited updates (3 in 5 days) about the status of the repairs. Needless to say, this was completely unacceptable for several reasons. From the length of time the water wasn’t working to the limited contact with tenants, I was and still am very upset. I want to request that a portion of my “all utilities included” rent be pro-rated for February since I went 5 days without water this month. Do I have any recourse for this?

When I read DCRA’s website I saw that all rentals are required to provide hot water (which I didn’t have for 5 days) so I would be more than justified in receiving a credit for my rent.

I any one has been through this (or something similar) I’d love to hear how you went about this.

Thanks!

Real Estate December 30, 2014 at 9:32 am

Seeking Landlord Insurance

Does anyone have an insurance agent who can provide landlord insurance on a rental condo? All companies I have talked to require me to change the insurance of my primary residence, which is not an option right now. I am looking for an insurance provider that will offer a landlord policy as a standalone policy, not linked to my primary residence. Any suggestions?? Thanks!

Real Estate February 24, 2014 at 9:50 am

Owner re-occupying my apartment — when does the 90 day clock start?

Hey folks, I have what I think is a quick question. The owner of my unit who I am renting from has sold the unit. The new owner is going to move in themselves, so they are giving me 90 days notice to vacate. (I’ve already waived my right of first refusal, we don’t want to buy the place ourselves.)

My question is, when does that 90 day clock start? When the sale closes and is final, or some time before? The new owner has said I have until May 31 to leave, but he doesn’t expect the sale to close until March 31, which would seem to indicate I have until the end of June, not end of May, for my 90 days.

So, when does the clock start on this? Thanks!

General Discussion August 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Landlord wants to move back into house we are renting – what rights do we have?

Hello! Before I get started, yes, I’ve tried calling the appropriate places but haven’t been able to get any kind of answer just yet. I’ve tried a few different websites and made some calls but it’s been frustrating, especially when things are happening so quickly.

On June 1st, my boyfriend and I moved in to a group house and signed a one year lease. We rent two rooms upstairs in this house. Another roommate (roommate 3) moved in for the summer into the other spare room. Her lease is from 6/1 – 8/31. The three of us share one bathroom. We have a fourth roommate (roommate 4) in the basement who has her own bathroom attached to her room but she shares the other common areas with all of us.

We found out last Friday, 8/2/2013, that are our landlord wants to move back into our house the end of this month once Roommate 3 vacated the room. She is also bringing her teenage son with her. Both of them were going to live in that room until our lease term was up. Roommate 3 was hoping to stay in the room month to month once the initial term was up as her job offered to extend her contract – she was working out the details. My boyfriend and I asked the landlord if her plans were set in stone and if so, what happens if we break our lease since this new arrangement will not work for us. She said we had 60 days (until the end of October) to find a new place, per our lease agreement.

My questions:

1. She has this clause in our lease: The landlord reserves the right to terminate the lease with 60 days written notice. From what I’ve read, this is illegal in DC, correct?

2. Furthermore, it says the lease goes month-to-month with approval from the landlord. I believe this is also illegal? If so, she can’t just evict Roommate 3 or assume she is leaving?

3. I realize she CAN evict us if she moves back in and it looks like she would need to give us 90 days notice in that event. That would be better because it would give us more time to pack and find a place. However, I can’t find anywhere if she is allowed to live there while we are there. Additionally, Roommate 4 in the basement was not told to move out as well. I’m not sure if DC law lets the landlord choose who they can kick out.

Ultimately we know we have to move. But it seems everything is happening on possibly illegal terms. Before we plan to pursue this further, I want an idea of if she can even live there and what would happen if we tried to block her from moving in.

FWIW, we’re looking for a new place but I still want to know for my own edification what precedent there is for this. I’m sure it’s a fairly common issue but as I said, I haven’t been able to get an answer yet from orgs I tried to reach out to. I will also admit, I’m more than a little irked we were allowed to move in when we did when I am assuming she must have been already looking for a job. She is moving basically across the country back to DC.

Thanks for anyone who can weigh in!

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