True Story – I mean all my stories are true but you get it =)
In 2007 after living in an apartment with someone with HUGE feet living above me, Oh gosh – the noise and stomping. I can’t even begin to explain the torture, any-who I decided to move out and move into a nice little quaint house on the other side of town. I inquired about it, looked at it and had a sit down with the landlords in which were an elderly couple (names I shall not say), but they were super nice. The only thing they wanted was someone to take care of the place. While the place was really small, it had a load of character in which I loved.
Immediately I began to see where I would put all my furniture and how I was going to make smaller areas, such as my bedroom work. The washer and dryer was going to have to be in the kitchen, a feature I didn’t particularly like, but hey. It had loads of charm and it was well maintained. It had a very nice backyard with a storage building. So any furniture I was not going to be able to fit into the space, could easily go into there.
Another feature I didn’t notice but quickly became annoyed with was the fact that the house was 15 steps from the local AIRPORT!!! Geeshhh, you know how you get so gung ho and excited over something until you forget the MAJOR details! I’m so like that. But, it had loads of charm! A three bedroom 2 full bath, who can beat that and the kitchen was even big enough for me to put in a computer desk for my office. How cool was that!
Immediately with the place, I would say about a week or two in – I seen a huge water bug making it’s way out of the kitchen. Scared the living daylights out of me…but it wasn’t the last one, it seemed like when we moved in – a whole other family moved into the furnishings as well. It was indeed water bug city! I immediately told the couple about this and they suggested I put down sticky traps along the walls and that I did…while it helped some, the kicker was a BIGGER than life one crawling across my TV screen as I watched the news one morning….I was livid! I had a 8 month old and a 1.5 year old at the time and I was so scared one of those suckers was going to bite them or get into my son’s crib or my daughters BED! Needless to say and to make a long story short, after living there for about a year and a half, I decided it was time to go.
The elderly couple that seemed so nice in the beginning turned into monsters in the end!
I cleaned the place to the best of my ability and mind you, as with moving you will have a load of stuff to throw away and I made sure it was placed neatly in front of the house so the garbage people can pick it up. I left the house in good standing. No rips or tears anywhere and it was clean….so now I awaited my 500 dollar deposit to come into the mail. A deposit that I never received.
What I did receive was a letter from the couple citing that I had lost and/or misplaced a couple things of theirs and they charged the heck out of me for it:
- Missing curtains that were hung up to the window when they showed the place that were no longer there. Now I don’t know if these curtains were new, but they charged me store prices for all 4 curtains!
- Missing stove and AC unit manuals that were not in the drawer when I left.
- Burners for the stove that were not replaced
- The trash that was left out front – Yeah, they charged me for that too.
- The clear shower curtains that were not on the shower rods and they charged me for the rods as well.
- Painting and a whole lot of other stuff that I can’t even name or was unaware of and they tacked on the charges majorly….like those manuals? Yeah, they called the company and found out how much it would cost to get another one and it wasn’t cheap!
By the time they got done calculating and adding things up that didn’t make a lick of sense, I not only wasn’t getting my deposit back but I had owed them money, money in which they put me on a payment plan to pay back $25.00 a month until the balance of 200.00 was paid in full, this was two hundred after the five hundred I didn’t receive. I was SOOOOOOOOOOO (excuse my language) PISSED! I called them both RAGING in fury, crying and cursing them out to the top of my lungs and then I hung the phone up in their faces.
Now, I’m not proud of my actions as they were elderly and I should’ve showed them respect, no matter how they acted – but I wanted my deposit back!!!!!!! Hence the move, I ended up back at my parents house and was looking forward to that money to help alleviate some irons I had in the fire – owing someone was NOT what I was expecting, BUT it happened.
Recently, I just moved and since that move. I got my full deposit back. While that issue with the elderly couple was a tragic one, it was also an eye-opening one that taught me a valuable lesson going forward and I want to share a couple of tips with you in regards to it!
Every landlord is NOT created equal. People say private owners are better but I’ve had both and each had their own set of rules and regulations. Private owners are a little more relaxed but you have to make sure – you get all your “I’s” and “T’s” crossed! and please by ALL means, if you don’t understand something – ASK QUESTIONS and read the lease thoroughly (especially the move out section), because the information that’s contained in it, can come back to haunt you later.
NOW FOR THE TIPS….
1. Do a complete walk thru of the place before you move in. Make sure you look for anything that may not look right to you. Bulbs, sockets, paint, previous holes that may be in the wall, under the sinks, the toilets – I mean everything and make a list of those findings and give it to the landlord, this ensures that you are not charged with anything that was previously there prior to moving in.
2. Be careful of the pictures you hang on the wall. I know in my earlier years of renting, I was a landlords nightmare! because I absolutely love decorating. I would hang big art on the walls and some of it would be heavy, causing me to use an anchor or a heavier nail or screw. And trust me, I got dinged for my creativeness when it came down to getting back that deposit. While landlords cannot take away your deposit due to normal wear and tear of a property, such as (paint, carpet and etc – depending on how long you’re there) They can deduct if the walls are damaged from either hanging pics that are too big or major holes caused by you. Make sure you get those patched up before leaving.
3. Are there things in the apartment or house prior to you moving in? As I stated above in my own story. The landlords had put up curtains and shower curtains and rods and so forth to make the place look nice. If there is anything of the such hanging up prior to your move in, ask the landlord are those your items to keep or would they like them back. Another thing you could do is take them all down and place them in a box labeled “Decorative items prior to move in” so you can make sure those items go right back up when you leave. It sounds petty but….as you seen with my story, it was a SERIOUS thing!
4. It’s wise if you do a walk-through of your place prior to leaving. Check everything and determine what you need to do to either fix it or call a professional to get it prepared. And if you can, try and replace the things that may have gotten damaged prior to you staying there, especially if it was in good condition before you moved in.
5. Take a video and or pictures of the place prior to moving out and keep receipts of everything that you might have replaced or gotten fixed. This covers you should you have a slumlord that thinks he’s keeping your deposit. Speaking of which and every state is different. Make sure you check with your state to see the time-frame a landlord has to return your deposit. For NC it’s 30 days, some landlords will give it back to you sooner than that, while others will stretch it out. Knowing this information will help you know when to expect it.
Bonus Tip: Be clear in the beginning about what your deposit will be used for. Either the last month’s rent or the deposit in which you’re expected to get back, should the place be in good standing. Talk with your landlord about this as most people confuse the deposit to be the last month’s rent and unless your landlord has told you differently. Then know that it’s clearly a deposit only.
I have one last tip and that’s How to Properly decorate your new “rental” space! Sometimes we can go a little overboard. That’s next week, so stay tuned!