Unjustified Charges against Security Deposit
My husband is stationed at Ft. Polk, LA. We were renting a home in Rosepine, LA through a local rental broker. We rented the home for 1 year and 1 month. We never had any negative issues with the broker throughout the year and were under the impression that we had a good relationship with the broker. We paid our rent on time every month with the exception of ONE month, September I believe, when due to miscommunication between my husband and I, the rent didn’t get get paid by the fifth. We went out of town and I thought he dropped a check and he thought I dropped a check. We contacted them and notified them of the error and took in a check as soon as we were back in town (one or two days later) and paid the 10% late fee without issue.
We gave them our writen notice to non renew our lease on May 14, 2010. Our lease end date was June 30, 2010. This was ample notification. We did not occupy the home the final month of the lease as we had rented a larger home on a larger lot where the lease began on June 1st. We have no family nearby and no one that could help us move, so ALL the packing, moving, and unpacking was done by my husband and myself. We both work full time, my husband working Saturdays. So this move was a long and drug out process but we did succeed in vacating the home, repainting the walls of my daughter’s room, touching up all nail holes, and throughly cleaning the interior of the home and appliances by June 30. I turned in the keys and garage door opener.
I called the rental office to confirm they received everything and to ask when the inspection would be done to be sure that I didn’t turn off the utilities prior to them going in. I was told that the broker handles the inspection and the deposit and to go ahead and shut the utilities off. So i shut off the utilites a week later. Betwenn my husband and I we called at least 5 times to speak to the broker about the inspection and deposit and he was never available. On July 7th we received a letter and a check from their office. The letter stated that they had deducted $100.00 for cleaning, $80.00 for Lawn mowing, and $125.00 for Pest Treatment for Roach Infestation. I used to work for another Rental agency in the area as the Assistant Rental Manager and performed the final inspection. The legal requirement is brush clean. I went beyond that when I cleaned the home. It was in more than "tenantable condition". The lawn was cut on the day we turned in the keys. The check they stated they wrote to the individual was dated one week after we moved out. This is Louisiana the grass grows exponentially in a day or so! As for the roaches, this is completely false. Never did we have any problem with any roaches. I am TERRIFIED of bugs period! There is no way I would have stayed in a home where there was an "infestation". I called the Pest control company and was told that the person who sprayed the home didn’t even remember spraying it. This is understandable as I’m sure they treat a number of homes per day, however it is reasonable to expect that in the case of an “infestation” a person would have some recollection only a week afterwards. I then spoke with one of the owner’s of the pest control company who stated that no one from his company observed any signs of an infestation. The treatment performed was an interior and exterior “standard treatment” for Smokey Brown cockroaches (not the German Roaches the letter claimed), which he confirmed are very common pests in this area of Louisiana. He also stated that in his opinion there was no evidence that we did anything to cause for the home to need to be treated. He stated simply that the realtor called, specifically requested the service, so they performed it.
Now I think anyone can see that these charges were general upkeep of a home to be listed for rent that a LANDLORD should expect to be responsible for. However, the Rental Agency tacked them on to our Security Deposit.
I wrote a letter outlining the amount disputed and the reasons we disputed them. I gave them 3 days to respond.
My question is…what do we need to do if they do not respond? Does anyone have any experience in this area?
Do we have a valid claim?
No we don’t have any pictures, because naively we believed we had a good relationship with this company and we have NEVER in the 5 years we have been renters of at least 3 other properties been in a situation like this.
Edited on: Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011 3:54 am
One Response to “Unjustified Charges against Security Deposit”
October 26th, 2010 4:23 pm
Take them to small claims court – they cannot charge you for carpet cleaning, etc. It cost a friend of mine $85 to sue her landlord for ridiculous, unfair charges and she won it all back. I believe you may be entitled to double your security deposit if you win.
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