Please leave a deposit at my doorstep
November 10, 2011 8:16 AM Subscribe
SecurityDepositFilter: I think I'm being screwed in Virginia. The situation is complicating by many factors, but mainly by the unwillingness for either the landlord or primary tenant to communicate with me. I was a subtenant with no written lease but a legitimate verbal agreement.
posted by anonymous to law & government (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Subleased apartment for six months from one other person (A), but there was a third roommate as well (B). Paid security deposit to person A that wasn't returned. Not sure how to proceed because no one is cooperative. This takes places in Virginia.
I moved out at the end of August and was in the apartment for six months, March-August.
I never signed a lease but there was an understanding that it was month-to-month (exact language used in initial emails with tenant A, unsure if other tenant B was actually on the lease). And based on my cursory research, it appears verbal 'leases' go month-to-month without an actual signed lease in VA.
I paid for all six months and a security deposit. I specifically wrote 'deposit' on memo line of actual check which was for approximately $600. All of my checks were cashed and I have copies of them from my online banking website.
It was understood, although not explicitly stated that I would be moving at the end of August due to relocation for work. The reason it was never explicitly stated was because it didn't seem like my roommates intended to move. They had been looking for a replacement roommate for about a month or so.
I found out they were moving mid-August only a week or two before. Not a big deal as I assumed notice was given to the primary landlord and they had paid whatever was owed.
According to tenant A, notice was given the first week of August and we/they may actually be on the hook for all of September's rent.
*Fast forward to November*
I have called the landlord and he was incredibly unhelpful. Refused to provide copy of lease or discuss any details and I believe it's because he doesn't have the original lease. Based on my questioning, I am 90% that is the case. He couldn't speak to any specifics and was acting offended that I would even want to see it. He was aggressive and claimed he wasn't going to go after tenant A in court because she was a 'good' tenant. However, he refused to clarify what he would go after her for (rent, deposit, damage).
Tenant A has ignored my emails and communications since August. I have started calling tenant A regularly for the last week. The first time I called she did answer her phone (likely no realizing it was me) and we discussed some of what was going on. She seemed cagey about the whole thing and said she 'now is not a good time to talk'--fine. We agreed to talk the upcoming Saturday. I called three or four times over the course of the day and was not obnoxious about it. In fact, when we spoke a few days earlier I was calm and just wanted to understand what was going on.
I suspect tenant A did not pay all of the rent for September or otherwise broke the lease, but I can't confirm it without the lease. She claimed it wasn't worth pursuing the landlord for our security deposit (in my opinion, her security deposit). I feel like I'm subsidizing/offsetting her mistake or decision to write the whole thing off as a loss--again, can't even confirm is this is a 'loss' for her. Of course, I had no input into this decision and the total 'expected' security deposit is significant (~$2000). This also assumes that she paid a security deposit to the landlord in the first place. Again, no one will clarify any of this.
I have read through VA housing and tenant code, but my situation is complicated by the fact that I only know what I have done--and I think I upheld all of my financial responsibilities. If tenant A would speak with me, I would be more than happy to go after landlord (not sure we got notice that our security deposits were being withheld, and I think that is a violation). Right now, I just want (some) of my security deposit back and since I paid it to tenant A, I think I need to get it back from them.
I always read these types of dispute threads and think "man, that person totally should have gotten that in writing, what a bozo...". Now, I'm that bozo. So thank you in advance for the advice.