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Old 07-28-2013, 02:51 PM   #1
SteelFangs
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Default Ex-Landlord Security Deposit Dispute in Terre Haute

I am a former college student and rented a small one bedroom apartment in Terre Haute with my dog (pit bull if it matters) and had a friend living there for one semester - August - December. This was my first apartment, I only had savings from a previous job and only worked part time so I needed a cosigner, my mother, but she only cosigned and does not intend to anything else.

I rented this apartment starting from May 1st 2012 - April 30th 2013. I kept very good care of the apartment (even though it was very old and sort of run-down with outdated appliances and interior). I moved out at the end of April and asked when I would receive my deposit back - she said 45 days (the law is 45 days, not business either) so I gave her my home address and waited. I got an email on June 16, 47 days after the lease ended, from ezlandlords.com (the same site she sent the lease to me from) saying she is keeping my entire deposit, all $725 of it. ($525 for deposit and $200 for pet deposit). And these are screenshots of the table and summary of 'reasons':

Table:


Summary:

My side: I was an idiot and did not do a walkthrough, but neither did she, so I cannot officially show proof to go against her allegations. However, does she have proof since she did not as well? Also, the carpet was very old, around 30 years at least old, and according to laws I have found that she cannot charge me to replace old carpet, that it is a general maintenance requirement, plus the hole, stains, and odor was there already. I also did not use the bedroom window at all, I kept it close and kept the blinds down at all times. As for shower curtain I am unsure what she means? There was a shower curtain stapled to the wall over the window that was facing right into the shower/tub (it was literally like in the shower) but besides that I had my own shower curtain. I also cleaned the shower out almost every week as there was existing water damaged that grew mold and even mushrooms (picture proof) if not cleaned constantly. The stove is 40 years old, the repair man, which is a friend of the landlord, even admitted this. I used the stove often as the oven leaked gas (smell) and I was afraid to use it but I cleaned the stove every week as well. There was also no mice droppings as I cleaned those as well (mice were living in the home, I even caught a few and have a picture). I was never given mice pellets and did not have access through the basement (it was locked). Those texts that she sent were only responses asking if the neighbors downstairs were behaving as I sent complaints constantly about them and even called the police twice (they had parties every weekend and even throughout the week). She never provided anything I needed except for the bathtub cleaning after various texts over two weeks for a request for it. As for the two other people she claimed lived there she had full knowledge of the other girl and gave an okay, the lease also allows up to a maximum of two people. The other person was my significant other who visited sometimes on the weekends but was going to and living on campus at another college two hours away, he was not living there. Also, the pet deposit IS refundable, it is stated up to four times in the lease as being refundable. Plus she was two days late on a deposit notification and so by law she must return the entire deposit.

Anyway, I'm on my own on this. I'm willing to go to small claims but wanted to ask what my next step would be. Should I email her with this information on my reply? Should I get an attorney to write a letter? Or should I go straight to small claims? Or should I just walk away? Please keep in mind I am 20 years old, work full time now, and do not live in Terre Haute any longer, I live in Indianapolis and she resides in Carmel.

Any advice is much appreciated.
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Old 07-28-2013, 03:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: Ex-Landlord Security Deposit Dispute in Terre Haute

The pet deposit was a deposit. It was not a pet fee. Therefore, it appears without getting involved in other issues for which you have no substantiation, you are owed a partial refund.
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Old 07-28-2013, 03:39 PM   #3
gail in georgia
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Default Re: Ex-Landlord Security Deposit Dispute in Terre Haute

If you disagree with the amount kept from your security deposit the first step is to write what is typically known as a "demand" letter, disputing the amount kept and "demanding" what you believe you are fairly owed, giving the landlord a certain amount of time (say, two weeks after they receive the letter) to refund this money.

If no satisfaction, then the next step is to consider a lawsuit. Such lawsuits are typically heard in Small Claims court as they involve relatively small amounts of money in dispute. Filing is typically not very expensive and you do not need an attorney; you would represent yourself.

Keep in mind that any time off you would need to take from your work and any travel expense to attend court would not be covered in this lawsuit. In addition, from your posting it sounds as if you did not take pictures of the rental unit at move out so I am uncertain what proof you would have to dispute any of these claims the landlord has made.

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Old 07-31-2013, 05:58 PM   #4
SteelFangs
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Default Re: Ex-Landlord Security Deposit Dispute in Terre Haute

Quote:
Originally Posted by gail in georgia View Post
If you disagree with the amount kept from your security deposit the first step is to write what is typically known as a "demand" letter, disputing the amount kept and "demanding" what you believe you are fairly owed, giving the landlord a certain amount of time (say, two weeks after they receive the letter) to refund this money.

If no satisfaction, then the next step is to consider a lawsuit. Such lawsuits are typically heard in Small Claims court as they involve relatively small amounts of money in dispute. Filing is typically not very expensive and you do not need an attorney; you would represent yourself.

Keep in mind that any time off you would need to take from your work and any travel expense to attend court would not be covered in this lawsuit. In addition, from your posting it sounds as if you did not take pictures of the rental unit at move out so I am uncertain what proof you would have to dispute any of these claims the landlord has made.

Gail
Could I just send an email for this 'demand letter' or should I do it through certified mail? Or both? And is there a certain amount of time I have to make this demand letter after I get the invoice? And can I write up a draft and have it looked through here?

I want to avoid court but if I have to go I will. Can I not demand a receipt the carpet was put down (the major cost) and cannot I demand my refund because she was late with the invoice/I am owed because I did not receive money for the pet deposit which is refundable?
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Old 07-31-2013, 06:12 PM   #5
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Default Re: Ex-Landlord Security Deposit Dispute in Terre Haute

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelFangs View Post
Could I just send an email for this 'demand letter' or should I do it through certified mail? Or both? And is there a certain amount of time I have to make this demand letter after I get the invoice? And can I write up a draft and have it looked through here?

I want to avoid court but if I have to go I will. Can I not demand a receipt the carpet was put down (the major cost) and cannot I demand my refund because she was late with the invoice/I am owed because I did not receive money for the pet deposit which is refundable?
An email is insufficient as you will have no proof that it was either sent or received. Online records can be too easily spoofed (faked). If you want proof of mailing and proof that the LL received your demand, you need to send it certified mail, return receipt requested. If the LL refuses to accept the item from the post office, DO NOT OPEN IT - keep it unopened in the event that it is needed for court later on.
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