Landlord Complaint Record: #23-0318

Stefanie Beninato    |    Santa Fe    ,    New Mexico 87504    Landlord Complaint 23-0318

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WARNING! This property/ landlord refused to mediate a fair resolution or respond to this
complaint. Landlord refused to cooperate.

Case Number : 23-0318 Filing Date : Sep 29, 2012
Investigating Agent : Kept Private Case Disposition : Force Required
Complaint Level : Code Landlord Response : Case Closed

Type Title / Link Posted By Date Uploaded Comments
upload Kept Private RPA Mailing Center Sep 30, 2012 The following attachment is a copy of the mailed complaint notice that was processed and sent out the Landlord/ Manager.

LANDLORD / MGR : Stefanie Beninato RENTER : Kept Private
Property Name :      
Address : PO Box 1601 Address : Kept Private
City, State - Zip : Santa Fe, New Mexico - 87504. City, State - Zip : Santa Fe, New Mexico - 87505.
Phone : Kept Private Phone : Kept Private

COMPLAINT : Harassing Contact, Inappropriate Damage Claims
Fair Resolution according to renter :
  1. Return of $600 deposit

Address               :   1027 Don Diego Ave, Unit B
City, State - Zip   :   Santa Fe, New Mexico - 87505.


My wife and I ended our lease with Stefanie Beninato because we felt harassed by her invasive contact and unreasonable demands. In particular we objected to her demands for uncompensated yard-work. Now she claims we’ve damaged things that we didn’t damage and is intent on charge us. She even claims we broke the electric hot plate that serves as the stove for the unit. We had an agreement with Ms. Beninato that we would do yard-work in exchange for access to her washing machine, which she kept in the locked garage. We chose to end the agreement because of her rude and intrusive micromanaging (e.g. monitoring the yard almost daily, frequently initiating comments, questions, and emails regarding minor details of the yard-work, insisting that she hold the key to the garage and open it for a limited number of hours at a time convenient to her during which we could do laundry). At this point We also asked for space and privacy –Ms. Beninato was on the property about once a day, often twice. After our request for privacy, she declared that she’d be “entering (our) apartment for an inspection”. Given our recent nullification of the yard-work agreement and request for privacy, this felt particularly harassing and provocative. She had already entered our space 4 times regarding the installation of a showerhead that she insisted on changing out, although it worked adequately. I helped her with attempted installations of a showerhead. The process was complicated by my initial objection that the showerhead was to low (spray at 5’) compared to the old one that worked just fine. It was after our relationship had soured that Ms. Beninato requested we pick up trash in the yard once a week if any had blown into the yard. We told her that this was inappropriate. She later added a claim that it was our trash. This was strange because a big pile of her construction trash remained outside the front door of our unit for as long as we lived there. She also asked that we pick up the apricots that had fallen from her and the neighbors’ trees’ and accused us of creating an ant-pile because of the rotting fruit. Again, we felt harassed and displaced from the space we were renting so we chose to leave with just two months left on our six-month lease. We gave the requested 30 days notice. Stefanie is an attorney/mediator and has been involved in over 30 personal lawsuits according to an article in the local paper. We became concerned she was going to lay claim to our deposit or even sue us, so we began to document the apartment as we prepared to move out. She runs a mediation business – legal interaction is her work and, it appeared to us, her hobby as well. The lease document leverages her legal expertise, stating she reserves the right to make changes to the “rules and regulations of the lease.” We are uncertain if this itself is even legal/Is this legal? If she asks tenants, progressively over the course of their stay, to do tasks around the yard that are not mentioned in the lease, do they have to do them? There are sections of the lease that note that the lease agreement goes against normal state law? Is this legal? We found the lease to be totally unclear on other essential items such as cleaning expectations, ramifications for ending a lease early or even the specific dollar amount of the rent. Ms. Beninato did not provide us with a checklist for itemizing dirt and damages when we moved in, and in our trusting naïveté, we did not create our own. However, the property was built in the 1930’s and therefore has many small damages (e.g. chipped and cracked walls, unpainted patches on the walls, a damaged screen door, separating floorboards in the kitchen, a blackened fireplace) and worn out hardwood floors. We became concerned she would claim we damaged these things. Now she’s saying we scratched the worn-out floor. We photo documented everything upon moving out and there are no big scratches on the floor beyond the wear-and-tear that existed when we moved in. We placed plastic beneath heavy furniture, as she requested, and we only lived there four months. The floor is so worn out, however, that the framing joists show through the sagging hardwood at intervals of 16 inches. These may be the “scratches” she’s talking about. I requested to see pictures of the alleged scratches and she responded that she will “produce the pictures when legally necessary.” We don’t know what to do to protect ourselves –Ms. Beninato is claiming damages for which we are not responsible and she loves to litigate! In addition to the floor, Ms. Beninato claims we broke the mailbox that would fall off the wall intermittently. Note: It’s also strange that she has tenants leave their rent and utility checks in the mailbox for her to collect. Ms. Beninato also claims we broke the electric hotplate that serves as the unit’s only stove, when in truth, it just stopped working. We informed Ms. Beninato of this when it occurred, but she did not respond with a new hotplate. At this point in our relationship with Stefanie it felt better to not have a stove than to make additional contact with her to obtain a new hotplate. We relied on our microwave for several weeks prior to moving out – and now she wants to charge us for the hotplate! Ms. Beninato voiced an expectation that we wash the outside of her windows as we were moving out and demanded to be emailed a picture of the ladder we’d be using. The lease makes no mention of cleaning the outside of the windows. This is not normally a task included in the tenant’s responsibilities. She also demanded photos of the ladder and vacuum with which we would clean the ceiling and walls. We sent a picture of the vacuum and ladder. She then wanted a picture of the attachment that goes on the vacuum! We sent her a picture of the attachment despite once again feeling harassed and micromanaged. We did indeed clean the ceiling as per the lease but refused Ms. Beninato’s inappropriate request that we supply a ladder and clean the outside of her windows. The one damage that occurred while we lived there were scratches to the styrofoam insulation board that Ms. Beninato has separating the house into two rental units and serving as ineffective soundproofing. We are sorry for this and expect to be charged. I thought about replacing the board myself from Home Depot. These types of silver-backed Styrofoam board cost around $15. We left the place particularly clean (and photographed it) hoping that Ms. Beninato would give us our deposit back. It’s much cleaner than it was when we moved in but she is claiming that it’s dirty. We feel that it is unorthodox, unprofessional and actually predatory that Ms. Beninato does not provide a damages-checklist and that she uses her legal knowledge to inappropriately lord power over her tenants. The former tenants complaint on the Rental Protection Agency website illustrates a similar situation and abuse of power. The other tenant living in the house at the same time we lived in the house left without notice in the midst of an argument with Ms. Beninato regarding a phone cable. We request our deposit returned in full, with the exception of a reasonable charge in Ms. Beninato chooses to replace the scratched Styrofoam board. We hope that this complaint helps other would-be tenants to avoid the experience that we have had.

From Date IP Address Response

Agent Date Response
SYSTEM Mar 4, 2013 FORCE REQUIRED! After repeated attempts to resolve this complaint; management has FAILED to comply and requires force. The RPA has taken all reasonable efforts to contact the Landlord / Manager. They have REFUSED all request and will require FORCE. This case is closed with a negative disposition.

SYSTEM Sep 30, 2012 PENDING LANDLORD RESPONSE: The landlord or manager have been provided with the following response deadline: October 06, 2012 This deadline provides a reasonable time frame of 3 days for delivery of written notice and 3 days to respond to case # 23-0318 as outlined in the mailed notice. THIS CASE IS PENDING RESPONSE FROM LANDLORD OR MANAGER.

SYSTEM Sep 30, 2012 MAIL CONFIRMATION: The complaint notice has been processed and is currently in route for 23-0318.

SYSTEM Sep 30, 2012 COMPLAINT NOTICE PRINTED: The complaint notice has been successfully transferred to the nearest mailing center and is pending mailing confirmation. For Landlord

SYSTEM Sep 30, 2012 AUTOMATIC EMAIL TO LANDLORD: The system has automatically emailed the landlord a digital complaint notice. Initial Email to Landlord has been sent.

SYSTEM Sep 30, 2012 EMAIL TO TENANT: The system has sent an email to the tenant. The email included a copy of the complaint as filed by the tenant.

SYSTEM Sep 30, 2012 Complaint Accepted by System

SYSTEM Sep 29, 2012 Complaint 23-0318 has been filed.