Hopefully the last post in what seems to be an apartment saga I can't se
July 17, 2017 11:20 AM   Subscribe

So, recently, I moved to Australia from the US. Because the landlord rejected three separate sets of people I had lined up to sublease the place furnished, I was unable to move all my furniture out on time. I had another month left on the lease, so I gave a friend the keys to move my stuff out. The friend... took their time, and finally got the furniture out two weeks late. Fine. But. The landlord decided they're still charging me rent, because...

...they didn't get all the keys back. Even though, well, we gave them the keys we have.

Herein lies the problem: I think I have one or two of the weird keys still on me.
. Like, the key that opens the back alley gate, but not the key that opens the lobby or the main place. But I don't know which they are, and mailing them back to the US would take at least until August, I'm pretty sure.

I think it's been a frustrating set of circumstances for the landlord, and I can understand that, but I have no idea what the legality of this all is (in an extremely un-adult move, I didn't take my copy of the lease with me; it's in my storage)

The place came with a move-in fee but not a security deposit, and I would have been plenty happy to just have the security deposit garnished.

I'm more scared than anything right now - I've done the best I can do under frustrating circumstances but I'm now being charged for rent for a place I have no possessions in and that I can fundamentally not access, not having keys to enter it and not being in in the same location.
posted by LSK to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
a) what question are you asking?
b) if it's anything to do with the laws, then what jurisdiction is the apartment in?
posted by brainmouse at 11:28 AM on July 17


Call the landlord, ask him what keys are missing and what they look like. Ask if there is some kind of re-keying fee. Basically, negotiate with your landlord. I'm doubtful that he can keep charging you rent, though he may be able to charge you a lock replacement fee. Just because you didn't leave a security deposit doesn't mean you can't send him back a key fee now.

This situation has gone poorly, and presumably both you and your landlord want to be done with it ASAP. Talking it out on the phone is probably your best bet.

(Also you could mail the keys back two-day or whatever. That's expensive, but it's presumably less than your rent!)
posted by mskyle at 11:32 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


oh, frig, i forgot to put in the question!

the question is - what can I do? what is my best option here?
posted by LSK at 11:33 AM on July 17


If the landlord's list of specific keys that are missing makes sense to you (eg he says he's lacking a back gate key) then photograph all the keys you have and ask him which one it is so you can send it to him.
If he says something unexpected like "I issued you two sets of keys and you only returned one" or "your friend said these were their keys so I thought you still had your set" then you can talk facts. But agreed, a phone call might be the fastest way to sort it out even though you'll have to count time zones to make it happen.
posted by aimedwander at 12:08 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


I'm going to fire a bunch of questions at you! Apologies in advance for their number...

Where (state, city) is the property in question? When did the tenancy first start? Have you signed multiple agreements at different dates? Are you the only tenant? Do you have a guarantor (or similar, e.g. a non-resident cosigner)?

What are the notice terms of your tenancy (lease)? In particular, what does it say about ending the tenancy? If you can't remember, could you get a copy?

Are you (still) in a fixed term agreement, or is your tenancy now running from month to month or on another periodic basis?

Have you served your landlord with any sort of notice already? Verbally or in writing? Via email? SMS? If so what did you say?

Has your landlord served you with any notice? Again, what are the details?

What sort of entity is your landlord? If a corporate entity does it have a complaints policy and/or regulator or other professional body?

Do you have any idea what your landlord doing with the property now? Have they advertised it? Rented it? Started doing renovations? Moved in themselves?

Are you still paying the landlord? If not, what arrears are alleged? How much extra do you think you've wrongfully been charged?

I work in landlord and tenant law (albeit not in your jurisdiction), and I would want to know the answers to the above, before trying to discuss the situation. I might be able to suggest approaches your question myself, but even if I can't, I think it would be useful to get as much specific relevant information down as possible, either for other people here to think about, or for you to take to a legal adviser.
posted by howfar at 12:09 PM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I'll add, if landlord is planning on charging you rent indefinitely, that's bad, needs a lot of fixing. But if landlord is just being petty and charging you for an extra month our of some combination of a missing key, 2 weeks of furniture, and general bad grace, I'd probably just confirm that this was the last month and you won't be paying any more rent or deposits or fees, and write the whole thing off. (because yeah, if I were a landlord and my tenant's stuff was still in the apartment after their move out date, I would keep charging them until the apartment was empty.) Read the messages carefully, maybe he didn't say he's charging you rent for next month because he doesn't have the keys yet, he's saying he charged you rent for last month because your friend hadn't turned the keys in by the deadline.
posted by aimedwander at 12:12 PM on July 17




Where (state, city) is the property in question? When did the tenancy first start? Have you signed multiple agreements at different dates? Are you the only tenant? Do you have a guarantor (or similar, e.g. a non-resident cosigner)?

Chicago, IL; I signed an annual lease, was the only tenant, and had no cosigner as of the final lease.

What are the notice terms of your tenancy (lease)? In particular, what does it say about ending the tenancy? If you can't remember, could you get a copy?

I recall searching for and finding no information about ending the tenancy early.

Are you (still) in a fixed term agreement, or is your tenancy now running from month to month or on another periodic basis?

The lease expired at the end of June, and the landlord charged my bank account for July

Have you served your landlord with any sort of notice already? Verbally or in writing? Via email? SMS? If so what did you say?

I told my landlord about the move-out arrangements and gave them two months of notice via e-mail about my move-out.

Has your landlord served you with any notice? Again, what are the details?

They've e-mailed me without a great amount of detail. To me, it's felt like they're difficult to communicate with.

What sort of entity is your landlord? If a corporate entity does it have a complaints policy and/or regulator or other professional body?

It's a small entity that manages a few buildings, I think?

Do you have any idea what your landlord doing with the property now? Have they advertised it? Rented it? Started doing renovations? Moved in themselves?

I have no idea, no.

Are you still paying the landlord? If not, what arrears are alleged? How much extra do you think you've wrongfully been charged?

They have charged my bank account a full month's rent for July. I think at least half of this shouldn't be charged, since the place has been vacant since last Thursday

________

Sorry this is all cursory; I'm a bit exhausted and not sure what level of detail to provide.

I also just learned that actual situation is that the keys I had left in the apartment weren't still in the apartment - which makes no sense to me unless my friend put those keys in the mail slot too and the landlord didn't recognize the keys, or Something Is Weirdly Wrong. I don't really have eyes and ears there anymore so I have no idea, although I've contacted my friend to ask for details
posted by LSK at 12:31 PM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Well, okay, yeah, what Rhizome says is reasonable. Don't send them photos of ALL your keys, but if you can get it down to a likely suspect, I'd still send them a "is this is" confirmation. A key that the OP has no idea what it is, is unlikely to be a major security risk.
posted by aimedwander at 12:32 PM on July 17


Tell your bank not to accept any more charges from the landlord to your account. Also see if they can reverse the most recent one. Contact management and tell them you are willing to agree on a reasonable fee for key replacement, but you will not accept the rent charge for the month.
posted by AugustWest at 12:48 PM on July 17 [3 favorites]


My last lease, which may not resemble yours, had specific language saying that I was considered to occupy the unit until I had returned all the keys or paid for re-keying. Since you don't have your lease, it's possible that yours said something similar.

Re: July rent. Since you occupied the unit for part of July, it's quite likely you do in fact owe them rent for all of July - was your two months notice saying that the unit would be vacant on July 13, or was it for the end of June, and they didn't know until Thursday that you would actually be out on Thursday? If it was 'hey I will vacate the unit soon I will let you know when it happened' then they have been unable to treat the unit as vacant in July and I would be pretty stunned if they were interested in returning that rent. What do you expect them to have done, had a tenant standing by to move in 'sometime soon after our other tenant moves out whenever that will be'?
posted by the agents of KAOS at 1:53 PM on July 17 [4 favorites]


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