Lawyer now or lawyer later?
July 16, 2012 10:37 AM Subscribe
Virginia-tenant-filter: I moved out, they sent me a big bill with a short deadline. Dispute damages first, lawyer later? Or lawyer now for the dispute?
posted by bookdragoness to Work & Money (8 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I recently bought a house, yay! However, on moving out I received a bill from the apartment complex (of a national management company) where I lived for two years for about a thousand dollars, due only two weeks from the date of their letter (three days before I received it).
They are threatening collections if they have not received payment in under two weeks.
They charged to paint normal wear-and-tear (as well as added to the walk-through inspection report after giving me my copy), as well as full carpet replacement due to "severe pet stain and odor" (nobody has ever commented on a pet odor even when asked, including their maintenance guys). From other reviews online, it sounds like this is their common practice with anyone who has a pet. The carpets were not new when we moved in, and in my dispute letter I am requesting the installation date of the previous carpet to prorate it against the useful lifetime.
I have emailed the lawyers who handled my house closing, who have sent me the contact information for another lawyer referral. I unfortunately do not have pictures (an oversight I feel badly about), although I have 2+ people willing to be witnesses to the apartment condition.
1. Do I send my polite, factual dispute letter (certified mail with return receipt) now and try to work it out before involving a lawyer? Or would I expect better results from a letter from a lawyer?
2. At the time of signing a pet addendum, they had said the pet deposit was for damages etc, but I can't find the paperwork due to the move and internet searches seem to say that a "pet fee" is not applicable to damages. I'm not sure whether the language was "nonrefundable fee" or "nonrefundable deposit".
Would leaving out the pet deposit section from my dispute letter strengthen my other arguments or would it remove my room to negotiate?
I understand this is not legal advice; my question is more the order-of-operations of disputing and lawyering, as well as general strategies.