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Richard, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 55444
Experience:  Attorney with 29 years of experience.
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My tenants are under a one year agreement from June 26, 2015

Customer Question

My tenants are under a one year agreement from June 26, 2015 - June 26, 2016 to rent my townhouse. They served me notice on March 20 they would be moving out in early April. Their notice requested I use their security deposit for their last month due on May 26 and the last month's rent I was holding for April 26 rent.
In the meantime, their negligence in not changing the A/C filter since they moved in caused a major problem, which cost me approx. $1400. I also suspect they shut A/C off during holidays when they went to NJ, which could have exacerbated the problem.
They are now saying they gave me notice to move out as a result of bad air quality due to A/C even though the issues with A/C were not discovered by inspector for potential buyer the day prior to their moving van arriving. At no time did tenant inform me of any such problem and nor was this stated in their March 20 email giving me notice they were moving out prior to ending of their lease.
The people who came to clean air ducts discovered an old and very dirty filter in the handler and removed it advising me that it hadn't been changed in many months and that it was better not to have a filter than to keep one so dirty in handler ir this entire problem would likely occur. He left it so I could see just how old and dirty it was, however, the tenant discarded it.
When I questioned the tenant as to how often he changed the filter since moving in on June 2915, he said, "I changed it once -- maybe twice."
Back in November 2015, I received an email stating there was an A/C problem. It turned out to be a clogged A/C drain. In my return enail, I said I would reimburse them and requested the bill. I also asked them if they were remembering to change the filters every one of two months. I assumed the A/C technician who fixed the drain problem had checked the A/C. Apparently, he hadn't. I later questions Lindstrom about this and the said it was an emergency call and they don't have time to do this on such a call. They could have discovered the problem before it became so bad and that the filter was not being changed.
Upon learning they were planning to move early, I said that I would move quickly to sell the house and if I sold it prior to the end of their lease, I would give them credit from the closing date. I also said I would split the cost of A/C repair even though their negligence caused the problem. They would not take responsibility for A/C whatsoever.
Additionally, the tenant removed a valuable antique brass and ceramic faucette from my guest bathroom and replaced it with a cheap chrome one saying it was leaking.
Even though we corresponded by email about any issues, no mention was made of this. I demanded he return my faucette and though he said he would return it, he has not done so.
At this juncture I'm not sure what to do. Can you please advise?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.
Good morning Suzanne. My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you. It will take me just a few minutes to type a response to your question. Thanks for your patience!
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.
You'll want to be proactive about this but you do have recourse. The deposit is not only for unpaid rent, it's also to protect you against damages caused. So, they have no right to have their deposit applied to rent when it's also there to protect you against any damages. It's pretty clear their bad air quality is just a means to try to terminate their lease early. So, let them know you will not be applying their deposit and if they do not pay their rent, you will consider them in default and proceed with the eviction process. They may be close to the termination date of their lease, but they're not going to want an eviction on their record. And, then when they do leave, and there are damages and/or unpaid rent not covered by their deposit, file suit against them for the excess amount. You should be able to do this in small claims court without a lawyer.