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William B. Esq.
William B. Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2958
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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I am having issues with a apartment building that I used live

Resolved Question:

I am having issues with a apartment building that I used live in. When we moved in they were running a special, no damage deposit. Now they want $1300 for carpet replacement, that only needed to be replaced in a small area. (wax got on about a square foot of carpet) They want $650 pet fee for my handicapped mothers service dog. They changed the locks and moved a storage that we rented from the apartments. We were current with our rent,and they had just asked what unit I had 1 week before. My question is can they do any of these things?
Submitted: 12 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 12 months ago.

Dear Customer,

 

Thank you for choosing Just Answer. I would like to assist you with your question today.

 

Your landlord cannot charge more than the actual cost of repair/replacement for the parts of your unit that are damaged or worn beyond the expected normal "wear and tear" of the unit.

 

This means that they can only charge for the carpet replacement of the entire room if it is impossible to replace the damaged section alone (they have a right for it to look uniform, but if there is a less expensive option, they must choose it).

 

They cannot charge a fee for a service dog.

 

(Even if they could charge a pet fee for a pet, they cannot do so at the end of the lease unless it was disclosed in writing at the beginning of the lease).

 

Under no circumstances can a landlord keep you from your belongings. Landlords cannot use "lock outs" to force payment of rent or other fees. They must make your belongings available to you promptly (and they must keep them secure, they cannot just dump them on the sidewalk and tell you they are available).

 

Your landlord is at risk of significant penalties if they do not provide you with your belongings promptly, hopefully they will provide them to you. While the dispute over the cost for repairing the carpet may not be as easily dealt with (it comes down to how much carpet really does need to be replaced, and how much just needed to be cleaned, but a round number of $1,300.00 usually means they are charging a set amount rather than the actual cost), I do hope that you do not have to file a claim with the small claims court, as it is somewhat time consuming, but the Courts will enforce your rights. Keep track of all of the phone calls and communications you have with the management as it may be necessary to have these notes in the future.

Customer: replied 12 months ago.

They made my belongings available the next day, but things were broken. They also moved them to a totally different building. This all happened in April 2013, we of course have moved. Here is the email I just received from them


Sarah,


 


The balance was determined to be valid due to the lack of documentation from you. You were supposed to send to me the doctor’s note for the assistive/companion animal. That information has not been received so there is nothing I will be able to do the have any of the pet fee charges removed without it. Also, there is nothing I can do about the carpet replacement charges since that is an invoiced charge(invoice attached). At this point, if we can’t get a payment plan set up, there is only so much time left before we will have process the account through finals for placement at a collection agency. This is the carpet bill.


Attachment: 2013-07-27_104908_2.pdf

Expert:  William B. Esq. replied 12 months ago.

I am sorry to hear that your belongings were damaged.

 

The landlord is responsible for the damage to the personal property - they moved your property without your permission or instruction, and they now are responsible for the cost of repair or replacement.

 

The landlord cannot charge you a pet fee for 2 reasons. First they are charging you for carpet replacement, the pet fee would be duplicative of this replacement cost - you cannot be charged twice when the pet fee is a deposit that should only have been charged at the beginning of the term. Second, Unless they made a formal request for information regarding the service animal, they must assume that your statement is correct. If the request is only being made now, you can provide it to them during this dispute, they still are prohibited from charging a fee.

 

The carpet replacement is at least defensible from a document standpoint. A third and independent party came and installed new carpet and provided an invoice for a specific dollar amount. The condition of the carpet is another question (I don't know the answer to that one, but the standard is what we discussed earlier).

 

You are not required to document the condition of the unit, the landlord is. If there is a failure to properly identify problems or needs for repair it is the landlords fault. The threat of "immanently sending this to collections" may or may not be a hollow one, but you may have room to negotiate the amount claimed.

William B. Esq., Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 2958
Experience: I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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