How long can landlord hold overpaid rent without cause?

By Sarra

We are about to move from a house in RI, and gave the landlord proper notice, well in advance. Each month of rent has been paid on time, in full. However, she insisted we electronically deposit the rent each month into her account, and we forgot to cancel the transfer for this month. We had already paid 1st, last, and deposit before we even moved in. Essentially, we have overpaid an entire month of rent. I have mentioned repeatedly to her (both leaving messages and via email, my preferred way to deal with her- it leaves a paper trail, with date/time!) that we need that back, and she keeps saying she will send it. She lives in FL, and we are in RI, and she constantly uses the distance (as well as her advanced age) as an excuse to avoid responsibilities. She even told me last week that she would "send it sometime next week." She has treated our rent money like a deposit- I am sure she spent it already, and doesn’t want to tell us that. This woman has neglected to do major repairs, and she took several months to fix the boiler and dishwasher, which we could have sued her or vacated over. She has whined to us many times over the costs, and tries to make us feel guilty because she must make repairs for an 80-year-old home. (She also refuses to hire a property manager, and never disclosed to us the name of her in-state agent designated to handle affairs.) We were forced to do many things that she is responsible for, from drafting our own lease, to researching options for repairs. We have let so many things go, just to avoid having to deal with her because she is so rude. (She has actually yelled at us over the phone!) Finally, after she has had several agents calling us at late hours or trying to show up at our door asking to show the place (we will be enforcing the 48 hours law from now on, without fail) and still insisting that we "help her" rent the place so she does not lose a month’s rent (ironic, no?) we have drawn the line. She is now trying to get sympathy from us, and plead helpless, but we finally let her know that we will not tolerate the lack of respect for our time or rights. In addition, that our money should have been returned to us immediately and that it is not hers to send back at her convenience. Do we have recourse to punish her for this undue financial burden?


Edited on: Sunday, February 9th, 2014 8:23 pm

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