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Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 22696
Experience:  14 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 24+ years
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After a dispute over alleged damages to rental properties my

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After a dispute over alleged damages to rental properties my daughter and her husband received a final statement. Although they dispute responsibility for damages they decided to move on with their lives, bite the bullet and pay the final assessment. Although they have been out of the apartment for at least two weeks, the manager advised them that the "final statement" (and so marked) is not a final statement and she will be sending a "revised final statement" with additional costs. They are befuddled.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 10 months ago.
Hello and welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
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I am sorry to hear that they are being treated poorly by the landlord after vacating.
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Are they planning on disputing any additional charges?
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What is your specific legal question I can help with tonight?
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

Yes, because they have not lived in the apt. Since Sept. 22nd. After an initial closing walk through before they left, the apt manager did another walk through without their presence. They had renter's insurance so when the initial damage report came with the stated plan of "repairing the damage and charging them, the contacted the insurance agency who sent an inspector who said that damage was normal wear and tear so the insurance company wouldn't pay on some damages. But the did pay out on pet related damages. When they received the final statement today, they decided to pay with the expectation that this would be the end. When they indicated that to Apt. Manager, she said that she was sending an Adjusted Final Statement. One question is can she legally just continue to add charges after sending a final statement?

Expert:  Barrister replied 10 months ago.
One question is can she legally just continue to add charges after sending a final statement?
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From a purely legal perspective, in Missouri a landlord has up to 30 days after the tenant vacates to make a claim for any damages against a tenant's deposit and demand any shortfall be paid by the tenant.
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Even though they might have done an initial inspection, that doesn't prevent the landlord from adding things that are discovered later that might not have been noticed on the initial walk through. A walk through isn't binding so as to prevent additional charges from being added later.
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With that said, if they are disputing the damages and want to fight the landlord about them, they can file a breach of contract action against the landlord and force them to prove their damages to the court. Landlords routinely try things like charging a tenant full price for new carpet or flooring when it is years and years old and has essentially used up its depreciable life. Most tenants don't know about depreciable life and end up paying for new carpet when they damage an 8 year old carpet and shouldn't have had to pay anything.
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As an aside, I have also been a landlord for over 24 years...
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

However, they sent a notice that said "final statement".

Expert:  Barrister replied 10 months ago.
Unfortunately, what they call the statement isn't legally relevant. They can call it anything they want to but the law states that the landlord can make a claim for damages from the deposit for up to 30 days from the date the tenant vacates.
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From a purely legal perspective, if the damages went over the security deposit, the landlord could sue the tenant under a breach of contract claim for up to 5 years under Missouri law. (Missouri Revised Statutes 516.120)
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 10 months ago.

So in other words you are telling me that the tenants has no rights. They do not have access to the apartment so they will just have to keep paying for anything that goes on in the apartment for ever?!

Expert:  Barrister replied 10 months ago.
So in other words you are telling me that the tenants has no rights. They do not have access to the apartment so they will just have to keep paying for anything that goes on in the apartment for ever?!

No, that is not what I am saying. I am saying that the landlord can hold the tenant liable for any damage that they can prove that the tenant caused. For example, on the original walkthrough there was a stove that appeared clean and functional from a visual inspection. If it was later discovered to be damaged due to the tenant spilling something on the electrical ignitor which then caused damage to the circuit board, they can be held liable even though it wasnt' noted on the original walkthrough.
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But if the tenant doesn't agree with the damages the landlord is attempting to charge them for, they can dispute the damages in writing with the landlord. Then it is up to the tenant whether to file a breach of contract action to dispute any improper deductions or charges if they can't come to an agreement with the landlord to settle the matter.
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Landlords don't like to have to file suit because it eats up time and money with the uncertainty that they might lose if they can't prove their case. So disputing damages and threatening to file suit can give the tenant leverage to get the landlord to settle.
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I am sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers, even when an answer is not favorable to the customer.


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Thanks
Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 22696
Experience: 14 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 24+ years
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