Can I have My Deposit Back – PLEASSSSEEEEE!!

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.

Image credit: pexels

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.

Image Credit: Moose Photos/Pexels

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!

FIRST THOUGH…..

Image credit: Bing/livingwordmontrose.com

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….

Image credit: Bing/steinbachapartments.com

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!

Image credit: Bing/Trulia

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!

Advertisements

A Renter’s Nightmare: SLUMLORDS!

We’ve all heard the saying for as long as we can remember “Renting is a Waste of Time and Money” and while that is very true, not everyone is ready to purchase Park Place or the Boardwalk. I’ve been a renter for over 15yrs now and there have been many ups as well as downs. In the process I’ve learned quite a bit about myself as well as the individuals I rented from and I can tell you, all landlords are not created equal.

While I have had some landlords that made me feel as if I never wanted to move, I have also had my share of others in which I couldn’t wait until the lease was up. As a tenant there were many mistakes that I’ve made along the way but with experience comes knowledge and due to those previous rental mishaps, I now know what to do before I signed the lease (those tips later)…but it was through my most recent rental experience that I did fully came to know what my rights as a tenant really meant.

A couple months ago my dryer started acting up, it got to the point where it wasn’t drying the clothes as it should. The first thing I thought of was the heating element, maybe it was timing out. I purchased both the washer and dryer brand new in 2012, so 5 years later and this being the first problem, was well worth the expense. In the meantime I was contemplating on maybe purchasing another dryer but before I made that decision I decided to get the dryer checked out first…and, I’m so glad I did. To make a very long story short, the repairman came out and told me that the dryer was in good condition, however; my dryer hose was clogged. He went on to say that the hose was so backed up he was surprised that it hadn’t  started a fire.

Shocked face

OMGOSH? Like, Really??

He immediately told me to contact my landlord and let him know of the situation because it was very serious. My mind at that time went on flashback mode – the landlord hasn’t been that responsive when I’ve asked him about things in the past or let’s say, he’s acted but not in the way that I felt like he should. But this situation was very serious so I did as the repairman asked and called him right away.

Once called, I was informed that he would get someone on it right away. Two days later, I ended up sending a message to confirm if something was still going to be done. I was then informed that I could still use the dryer and that someone would be out to the house as soon as they can. Fast forward over a month later – no response, I sent a message explaining the situation again and asked if someone was going to come out, Once again, I was informed that the person was too busy and that they would find someone. Fast forward another month and a half later…..still no word. Tenant vs. Landlord1I was in shock that my issue had not been taken care of quicker than I had hoped, after all – a clogged dryer vent is a fire hazard that could have caused major damage within that time period and it did, especially to my light bill. So, I did my research and took matters into my own hands; I hired whom I needed to come out to the house and fix the issue in which got fixed the same day. There was a bird’s nest in the vent along with globs of lint; talk about a disaster waiting on a match. I was appalled at the landlord but after doing my research, I found that as a tenant I had rights and therefore could take those expenses from the rent payment and that is exactly what I did.

So given my experience, I wanted to leave you a couple of tips showcasing what I did and mistakes I made in the past regarding past rentals….

I. Document, Document, Document…

In order to withhold some of the rent money to pay for the necessary expenses needed to be fixed, I had to document and keep record of the times in which I contacted my landlord. I would suggest that if you have a problem, right down or keep track of the date, time and conversation discussed. It’s the most relevant piece of information that will come in handy should you need to take such action as I did or even take your landlord to small claims court.

I also would suggest telling your landlord about the situation a couple of times (3) to be exact with time in between to give them time to take action before you take action. You don’t want to jump the gun, because it could hang you later on. Always make the landlord copies of receipts of the items that you purchased, you keep all the originals and if you do get someone to handle an issue or problem that the landlord has failed to do. Make sure you try to get a reasonable person that offer reasonable prices; you don’t want them to think that you’re trying to take more off the rent than you need to and if you have to take them to court, you might receive questions from the judge asking “Why you didn’t go cheaper”– Remember, you’re not trying to stick it to them. You’re just trying to spread awareness that you won’t be run over.

II. Read Your Lease to the “T”

The number one mistake I’ve made in renting is not taking out the time to read my lease in it’s entirety. Getting the keys to your own space can be very liberating but costly if you don’t take out time to read your responsibilities vs. the landlord’s responsible actions. People automatically assume that if they rent then the landlord is automatically responsible for everything…not true. You may be responsible for taking care of the yard or fixing things that become dented, broken or messed up during your stay. Every lease and landlord is different so make sure you read what you’re supposed to take care of during the duration of your lease. And No, the landlord is not responsible for replacing light bulbs nor air filters…sorry. *sidenote* If there’s something you don’t understand or need clarity on, please talk to the landlord about it first before signing…once you sign, you are bound to whatever the lease states you are to do.

III. Inspector Gadget to the Rescue:

Once you’ve read your lease and got all the formalities out of the way and before you move one single item into your humble abode. Go alone or with a trusted friend and inspect your new place. Take out your phone and take pictures of how your place looked before you moved in. Check the wall sockets, the carpet, the bathrooms, sinks, under the sink, wash area even outside. You’re checking to make sure that everything is in good condition. If you notice the carpet is torn or a light fixture is broken or knobs or lights are off or out, take notes and write it up for the landlord, make sure you date it and keep a copy of it for yourself. You want to make sure that the landlord knows about any and all discrepancies before you move in, this makes him or her aware that there is an issue. If they choose not to fix it, then they will not be able to hold that against you once you move out…that’s where your copy of the letter comes into play.

IV. Credit Jeopardy:

If you rent from a private owner, they may not necessarily report your monthly payment to credit reporting agencies, however; most management companies do. If you ever have hopes of moving out to obtain better digs or have a desire to own your own home one day, then paying your rent on time is the meat that will get you there. This brings me to my next point…

V. Be Upfront about It:

If you live in this world, then you know accidents and misfortunes do happen. If you get laid off, have surgery or suffer any other life crisis that will affect you paying the rent, please be upfront with your landlord. I don’t know what type of relationship you may have with him or her but keeping them informed about important matters, will help build a trusting relationship with them, one that could indeed get you into your next place. You never know who they may know or who may know them.

VI. Leave it There:

There was one place that I moved into years ago that had pictures, curtains, shower curtain liners and other miscellaneous things in it. I was under the impression that the owners had just placed it there to stage and dress up the place when they showed it. It wasn’t until I moved out and was expecting to get my full deposit back that I noticed their list of reasons why it was cut short, they had listed all those little trinkets right on the detailed list. So please, if you move into an apartment or house and there are items left there either by the landlord or someone previously; please let your landlord know and ask what you need to do with those items. My suggestion would be to take pictures of where the items were or hung before you take it all down, put them in a box and save it for when you move out. Once you move out, refer back to your pictures to see how those items were placed and hang or place them back where they were. If the landlord says that you can have them, document the date and time of that conversation and refer back to it when you need it.

If you live in North Carolina, Listed below are a couple of links that offer great information on your rights as a tenant as well as the landlords. If you don’t live in NC, then you can replace the NC in the link below with your state acronym. Different rules apply for different states, so make sure you’re following the correct guidelines outlined for yours.

Overview of Landlord Tenant Rights in NC

North Carolina Residential Tenant Rights

renters-rights-for-website

Roshonda N. Blackmon – Creator of JustsumInspiration, Author, Speaker & Encourager

Let’s Live Well, Laugh Loud & Love Hard!

 

Feel free to comment or email us @ justsuminspiration@gmail.com

For Daily Inspiration, you can follow us on one or all of the social media sites below:

Facebook:   JustsumInspiration for the Mind, Body & Soul

Instagram: justsuminspiration2u

Twitter:      jus2inspireu