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“DC Rights for Renters – Getting Your Security Deposit Back”

by Prince Of Petworth June 5, 2015 at 1:20 pm 25 Comments

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Photo by PoPville flickr user nevermindtheend

“Dear PoPville,

My husband and I lived in a large fancy apartment building in Mt. Vernon for our first year in DC and had a very good experience there – until we moved out. I’m sure you here many stories about landlords unfairly withholding security deposits for bogus claims and this is one of those stories. However, luckily we have lawyers in the family who were able to remind our landlord of our rights – and get our money back! I thought I’d pass along some of that information to share with others as I know this is a very busy time for moving:

– Generally, any damage discovered after the walk-through and the signing of the inspection forms is not the responsibility of the tenant.
– Landlords may reserve the sole discretion to schedule the walk-through inspection in your lease, but they can not schedule the inspection and then claim that the inspection was done at a time that did not allow for proper light to see all damages (as our landlord did)
– Our lease provided for the landlord giving at least ten days notice of any inspections and the tenant having a right to be present during any inspection, however the landlord claimed the alleged damage was discovered during a 2nd walk through (conducted the day after our lease ended and we were not given notice of the 2nd inspection!). This 2nd walk through was totally illegal because we were not given notice.
– Landlords generally should provide photographs or other evidence (such as an estimate or proposal for repairs) of the condition of any damage prior to and after repairs.
– Pay close attention to any documents your landlord provides – we noticed discrepancies between the alleged damage “extensive damage to wood floors” and the alleged invoice stating “laminate” was installed. If the floors were indeed hardwood, other measures such as sanding and staining should have been explored before any replacement occurred.

You don’t need a “lawyer letter” to reclaim your security deposit in full. I pointed out the discrpencies to the landlord before we sent the lawyer letter, however we were only refunded a part of it and I was told it was because the landlord “could tell I was smart.” That infuriated me even more, although I think the point is that you can use some common sense when you are wronged by your landlord.”

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