It's Not You, It's Me: Landlord Edition
December 7, 2013 12:38 PM Subscribe
What are some best practices for dealing with landlords? Alternately, please tell me I'm over-reacting. Snowflakes inside.
posted by mrfuga0 to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I have had several bad experiences with landlords -- the past three have been especially bad and the current one is looking like she might be a good addition to that group as well. All of these landlords were people who rented one or maybe two properties as a hobby. They tend (with the exception of the first one) to be women of a certain age who have no job and like to see themselves as property developers.
I'd like some specific advice on how to avoid getting dinged on security deposits for things that aren't (and maybe could never be) spelled out in a lease and also for getting work done on the house (repairs, etc.) when they are bored with playing property owner.
Specific details include:
Landlord #1 not returning security deposit at all and then ignoring legal claims and then disappearing from existence (apparently) to avoid small claims court. Loss of a $1600 security deposit. Ours was his only property and he stopped doing repairs or having someone do repairs within the first four months. During the lease, he gave me permission to have my dog, which was promptly contested by the owner's association and I received multiple ongoing threats to kick me out/remove my dog/etc. even though my lease specified I could have her.
Landlord #2 charging us $500 for a leaving behind "dirty" bathtub (I had used it the night before we moved out, so it wasn't dirty by any means) that they were removing and demolishing for renovation. Were also charged for not moving the refrigerator and cleaning behind it before we left (again, fridge was being demolished as well).
Landlord #3 offering us a deal to either pay a cleaner of her choosing or pay her $200 for cleaning. After we had her cleaner come in and landlord inspected the property and pronounced it "perfect," we received a letter indicating that the unfinished basement wasn't clean enough and the stove was dirty and therefore we were not to receive our security deposit. When we moved in, there was black mold in the bathrooms and the basement was filthy (and infested with brown recluses, one of which bit me and hospitalized me).
Landlord also maintained at time of lease that she and her husband would be doing ongoing renovations to the property. After the first month, she called and stated that they were not going to do any more and left gaping holes in the siding and major renovations unfinished while we lived there.
Current landlord has not responded to any maintenance calls since around September. Our alarm system (a major selling point for us) has been broken for several weeks and requires that landlord authorize repairs. All calls from us to her have been ignored. Two appointments from her to come and look at things have been cancelled at the last minute by her. We move out next week and there has been no communication from her as to a walk-through, our security deposit or other issues (who do I give the keys to! For the love of Christ!).
While none of these issues are life-threatening (although the alarm one could be), it indicates a pattern to me of bored housewives who lose interest in a property when it isn't "fun" anymore. The issues of cleaning behind the refrigerator or the dirty basement seem too petty to spell out in a lease (it could easily run to 100 pages if you had to specify the exact cleaning levels of every single thing in every single room). Most leases suggest that the property should be cleaned to the level at move-in, but this is impossible to document completely thoroughly (again, am I supposed to think to pull out the refrigerator and take photos behind it when I move in? Or document the state of the unfinished basement -- it's a basement! It has a washer/dryer and a bunch of storage!).
As we are moving out this week and moving into another place that is owned by a housewife (we thought it was managed by a property manager, but apparently she was just renting it for them), I'd like some specific tools on how to avoid this kind of nit-pickiness, as well as tips on how to get repairs, etc. done when the initial interest has waned. Alternately, I would be happy to hear that I'm being unreasonable and that losing several hundred dollars of every security deposit is how the game is played.
Assume I do the normal things like walk-through the house with the landlord, take photos, make and sign a checklist, etc. Also assume I know local law about required repairs and collecting money through small claims court and that these one-off landlords don't seem to respond to the law, as they seem to have no knowledge of it.
TL;DR: How can I best cover my ass in order to get my security deposit back and to get maintenance done in a timely manner?