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LawTalk
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 36350
Experience:  I have 30 years legal experience. Additionally, in CA I held a Real Estate Broker's license.
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I would like to recover my security deposit from my previous

Customer Question

I would like to recover my security deposit from my previous landlord in small claims court. However, I have a couple questions and a background story.
Background story: We had been renting from a private party for 2 years. Our most recent lease extension was signed as a mutually beneficial agreement. We informed our landlord that we would not be purchasing the home that we were renting and planned to leave in Jan 2016. Our landlord asked us to sign an extension for Feb 2016 to May 2016 at a discounted rate because he did not want to put the house on the market in the winter. He also asked that we cooperate with him as he prepared the home for sale and also allow potential buyers to view the home. We agreed. April 2nd, our landlord paid us a visit to assess the condition of the home and what needed to be done in order to make the home "show ready". He was not satisfied with the "show readiness" of the home which I completely understood as we were packing to move and we are also a family with young children. Our landlord sent us an email requesting that we move the boxes and get the home and carpets professionally cleaned by April 15th as he had scheduled a meeting with a Realtor to take pictures of the home on that date and put the home on the market. We explained to him that we wouldn't be able to meet that deadline but we could have the home ready for pictures by April 22nd. We realized that we would be unable to keep the home up to our landlord's likeness for the remainder of our lease and were in the position to move our belongings as we closed on our new home on April 8th. We decided to spare our sanity and move early although we were still willing to live up to our end of the agreement and pay rent through the end of May. We moved on April 15th and hired professional cleaners per our landlord's request, but we still had a few items at the home that would not fit in the moving truck. He showed up on April 22nd as planned and was still unsatisfied with the "show readiness" of the home. He notified us via text message that he wanted to terminate the lease on April 30th and that we needed to have the remainder of our belongings out by then. We agreed and spent the last week of April packing our cars and bringing things over to the new home. We requested an official move-out walk through so that we would be clear with what needed to be done to recover our security deposit. Our landlord refused. On April 30th we went to do a final cleaning, touch-up paint etc and get the last car load of our belongings. When we arrived, we found our landlord, his wife, his father and his dog in the home doing tough up paint, changing filters, eating etc. He did not notify us that he was coming and we were technically still residents of the home. He took it upon himself to do repairs that I already told him via email the night before that we planned to do.
Two weeks later he sent us a letter with a check for the remainder of our security deposit. He charged us $300 to replace the carpet, $800 to replace an off track window (we didn't know the window was off track but we were unable to open it for the entire time we lived at the home), $200 for professional cleaners, $100 for miscellaneous items that he bought from Lowe's to do touch up paint and patch a wall, $350 for a pet fee for a pet that we kept for a month as a favor to an individual in my unit that depolyed. We would like to recover all of this
My questions:
1. The home is located in Cabarrus county, I now live in Mecklenburg County and my landlord lives in Charleston,SC. Where do I file a complaint?
2. We didn't do an official move-in walk through, the landlord simply sent us a generic lease with a walk through sheet attached. I noted the things that stuck out to me but didn't think to try and open all of the windows. Are we responsible for the window damage even though we didn't cause it?
Thanks in advance for the help.
Submitted: 10 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.
Good afternoon,I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation. My goal is to provide you with excellent service today. You asked: 1. The home is located in Cabarrus county, I now live in Mecklenburg County and my landlord lives in Charleston,SC. Where do I file a complaint?You will need to file the lawsuit in the county where the rental property is located. 2. We didn't do an official move-in walk through, the landlord simply sent us a generic lease with a walk through sheet attached. I noted the things that stuck out to me but didn't think to try and open all of the windows. Are we responsible for the window damage even though we didn't cause it? The landlord may only charge you for damage that they can prove was cause by you. As the window was off track when you moved in---given your inability to open it----then you were not the cause of the problem and will be entitled to get that money back. As for the repairs that you were prepared to do, you will need to determine the cost to you to have done those repairs and then argue that only the actual out of pocket costs to you should be able to be claimed by the landlord as you were prepared to do the repairs yourself and that his use of others to do those things, or do them himself and charge you was inappropriate. You may reply back to me using the Reply link and I will be happy to continue to assist you until I am able to address your concerns, to your satisfaction.I hope that I have been able to fully answer your question. As I am not an employee of JustAnswer, please be so kind as to rate my service to you. That is the only way I am compensated for assisting you. Thank you in advance.I wish you and yours the best in 2016,Doug
Expert:  LawTalk replied 10 months ago.
Good afternoon,Do you have any additional questions that you would like me to address for you?In case you would like a phone call to further discuss these issues you have raised, I will make that offer to you. You are certainly not obligated to accept a call offer, but many people do find it helpful for clarification purposes, as well as to allow them to ask additional questions.As I have provided you with the information you asked for, would you please now rate my service to you so I can be compensated for assisting you?Thanks in advance,Doug