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I am a landlord and I had a tenant leave at the end of a lease

on May 31, 2013. I...
I am a landlord and I had a tenant leave at the end of a lease on May 31, 2013. I had given her a 6 page letter that listed specific conditions with issues that needed to be addressed if she wanted her security deposit back. I mailed it overnight/certified to her and she spoke with me about it so I knew she received it. One huge issue was she brought in a cat that I did not allow although I did allow her to have dog as it used the outdoors as needed. I demanded she have the carpets professionally cleaned, deodorized and treated for tics, fleas, etc. I met with her on May 31 to get the keys from her and she began to try and wezel her way out of several issues and then lied to me and told me she had the carpet cleaned professionally as I had asked. Stanley steamer was there at 3:30 that afternoon and the carpets were still wet and they looked clean so I told her they looked ok and I would giveher her security deposit back. I did not write her a check but told her I would mail it to her. I went back the next day to assess what cleaning supplies I would need to spruce up the unit to show it and the carpet/animal odor hit you in the face as you opened the door. She had the windows open the day before and when carpet is still wet you can not smell animal odor. She told me she had it deodorized and lied about it. When I looked on the receipt I asked her to give me it was not indeed deodorized or treated for tics, fleas, etc. I had Stanley steamer come back and deodorize it and they told me she had so much shampoo in the carpets from trying to clean it herself that it clogged their truck and they had to get another truck to finish the job. They told me they recommended she have them deodorize it and she refused. The carpets were so wet they would not dry and I was forced to pull them up and the urine stains ruined not only the padding but the wood floors below. I have spent over $2,600.00 in labor and supplies to this point and have estimates of over 5,000.00 to fix the floor and recarpet it with an equal value carpeting.There will be other small expenses to fix other stuff she destroyed that I did not see the first time through with her but the overall damage is about $8,000.00. What do I have to do to sue her for the damages and do I have a chance of getting my money since I told her I would give her her deposit back or do I have a chance since she breeched the agreement by not having the carpets deodorized and treated for tics, fleas, etc and lied about it? I have taken about 350 pictures. What is my time limit? Is it 30 days to return a security deposit or give reason why it is not being returned? I only have unitl Friday June 28, 2013 if that is the case. This is urgent. Thank you for your attention to this matter.
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Answered in 6 minutes by:
6/21/2013
JBaxLaw
JBaxLaw, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 11,396
Experience: Wide experience in consumer rights law.
Verified

JohnQAttorney :

Hello, I am a professional here to assist you. I appreciate your use of this service.

Customer:

Hi....

JohnQAttorney :

hello

Customer:

I would be greatful for any direction in this situation

JohnQAttorney :

I see that you have damages to your rental exceeding the security deposit amount.

Customer:

yes...the security deposit was only $550.00

JohnQAttorney :

There is recourse via a civil suit. The civil suit is not limited to the same time restrictions as the security deposit.

Customer:

that is a relief to know

JohnQAttorney :

The tenant breached the lease by damaging the home and having the cat. The statute of limitations for breach of contract would apply.

Customer:

do I have to give her a notice by June 30th of the damages or get an attorney?

Customer:

can I settle out of court and just ask her for a check for the damages?

JohnQAttorney :

Yes. You are free to settle out of court.

JohnQAttorney :

A landlord would still need to send an itemized list of damages to retain the deposit. The notice can say additional amounts are owed and demand payment.

Customer:

should I send her the pictures of the stains and damaged floor?

Customer:

should I send her pictures of the damages floor and stains?

JohnQAttorney :

The statute of limitations for breach of contract actions in WV is ten years. While that is a long period in which a suit may be filed, it is typically better to be quick.

JohnQAttorney :

The more detail supply to the tenant supporting your retention of a deposit and claim for additional damages the better.

JohnQAttorney :

Pictures and receipts for repairs are good supporting documents to send.

Customer:

here is an additional situation....it is a duplex....her fiancé lived in the other half before they were married and then moved in with her afterward. The animals were in the other side as well as they were his. Do I have a right to now sue them for those damages as well as I gave the deposit back?

JohnQAttorney :

If damages were hidden and not known at the time a deposit was returned then a landlord can file suit even after returning a security deposit.

Customer:

I have a tenant who moved in there and did complain of animal odor but did not mind as her husband cleaned carpets for a living and cleans them regularly to aide in the odor. If they have to move out to remove the carpets can I sue for their hotel expenses?

JohnQAttorney :

That is a more difficult situation. The answer is that you could try. Lost rent can be recovered so it is possible this could as well.

JohnQAttorney :

Any other questions?

Customer:

so how do I start the process? Mail her an itemized letter with pictures this week and ask her for the monitary damages?

JohnQAttorney :

Yes.

Customer:

do I let her know I am going to take her to court if she blows me off? as is her personality,,

JohnQAttorney :

Typically, a demand letter is used first. This can sometimes lead to informal resolution and save you the time and expense of going to court.

JohnQAttorney :

Direct threats of suit should be avoided, but including a deadline and advising you will seek damages to the full extent available under the law is fine.

Customer:

I would love to avoid court if possible but fear she will demand it as she loves to fight. How do I address this in court?

JohnQAttorney :

Court is more complicated and you would be best served using an attorney.

Customer:

what kind of an attorney should I get?

JohnQAttorney :

Given the amount of damages involved obtaining representation would probably be worth the expense.

JohnQAttorney :

A general civil litigation attorney is fine. This is not overly complex and requires no specialization.

JohnQAttorney :

You may even obtain limited representation for the purpose of sending a demand letter.

JohnQAttorney :

Sometimes a demand letter from an attorney is more effective that from a landlord.

Customer:

what is limited representation?

JohnQAttorney :

You may want to attempt that if your own demand letter does not suffice. By limited, I meant to convey that you would only pay for that service to start. The demand letter should be reasonably inexpensive.

Customer:

what do I say to the attorney to convey this to him? what do I say?

JohnQAttorney :

You can be very specific. Simply ask if you can hire them to send a demand letter and then if further representation is needed pay for that only once that is determined.

JohnQAttorney :

Otherwise, the attorney may demand a larger retainer up front.

JohnQAttorney :

A retainer is a sum of money held by the attorney which they bill against.

Customer:

thank you very much.....is it possible to send the demand letter myself and if it does not work consult an attoerney after that?

JohnQAttorney :

Certainly. That is a good approach.

Customer:

thank you so much for your help......you have made my day....blessings!!!

JohnQAttorney :

Will you be so kind as to leave a positive service rating?

I would greatly appreciate it. I rely on excellent ratings and optional bonuses to provide this service.

Thank you and please have a great day. You will see an option to leave the rating on your screen.




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Thank you again and please have a great day


Customer:

have a good day

JohnQAttorney :

Thank you again

JohnQAttorney :

Please let me know if you have any problems with the rating system

JBaxLaw
JBaxLaw, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 11,396
Experience: Wide experience in consumer rights law.
Verified
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JBaxLaw
JBaxLaw
JBaxLaw, Lawyer
Category: Consumer Protection Law
Satisfied Customers: 11,396
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Experience: Wide experience in consumer rights law.

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