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Losing My Deposit


Now that the new school year has started and most people are settled in their new apartments, the statements for those who moved out of apartments last (rental) year have come.Now this didn't happen to me--this time so it's really not my deposit. But someone I know just got a bill instead of a check for their deposit.Certainly many people leave their apartments in a poor state but I must believe that many people are taken advantage of and I certainly think that was the case in this instance.Why?Well, I have a couple of reasons.In the last few years, I've checked out of two apartments. I'm not a college student and when I left each apartment, I'm sure it was in as as good or better condition than when I moved in.In both cases the apartments were managed by companies that manage many complexes and hundreds of apartments.In both cases the management company kept my deposit and, in addition, charged me a couple of hundred dollars.In the case that prompted this post, the same thing happened, but the company is charging this person many hundreds of dollars.I don't know the specifics in this case, but I've been around the block a few times now. Maybe a few too many times and here is what I believe is going on. Perhaps I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.Companies know that most people will not complain and just accept this treatment when it occurs.Companies know that if they offer rebates, some people won't turn them in. Of those that do, if the rebate check just never shows up, many more won't protest. And, finally a few won't cash the check.Health insurance companies will deny claims, knowing that many, or most, won't dispute the decisions. In my personal experience, numerous times I've had claims denied which I was able to resolve it with a single call. Never have I had an insurance company deny a claim and then do anything to help me determine if the decisions was correct.So, in this case, the apartment management companies know that most people won't even complain.In my case, I did call the companies, but what leverage do I have? They commonly deal with problems such as this and know how to handle these situations. The only option I know that I have is to go to small claims court.You and I are not likely to be familiar with how to handle situations like this.I consider my self to be fairly proactive in situations like this, but even I didn't pursue the issue very far in either case.In a city with so many renters and so much turnover, my guess is that this is a revenue source for these companies. Since they can usually get away with it, they do.Am I off base? Has this happened to you?


Adrienne Sanders 9 years, 9 months ago

Use a checklist or write everything down that's wrong when you move in and make sure it's signed by you and the landlord. Don't lose it! Use the resources that Coach Eric posted. And take the time to take these jokers to small claims court, it takes a little time but it's not expensive or difficult and IMO it's worth it. Landlords shouldn't be able to get away with charging for made up stuff, stuff that's not the tenants' responsibility, or that's normal wear & tear.

tolawdjk 9 years, 9 months ago

Denver is nice.Landlords are barred from collecting "normal wear and tear".Landlords are required to submit an itemized accounting of charges within 1 month of end of lease or the tenant is awarded triple the ammount of deposit. Do not pass go, do not cellect $200.

gccs14r 9 years, 9 months ago

West Hills dinged me a bit, mostly for stuff my roommate did, and Master Plan Management charged me $50 for "carpet cleaning", something the place needed when I moved in and that I did do when I moved out. $50 isn't enough to go to small claims over, though. Meadowbrook gave me my full deposit back, as did a couple of privateers from whom I rented houses. I don't rent any more.

Laura Wilson 9 years, 9 months ago

The best way to avoid charges is to take pictures or video when you move in an move out. Document all damage as best you can. If your landlord is smart, they will do the same, and make sure you note damage done by previous tenants on your check in form.A caveat about small claims court--most of the big landlords in town are incorporated and corporations must be represented by an attorney in the state of Kansas which means you can't file in small claims court. Well, you can, but they'll have an attorney on their side and probably bump it to limited civil court, and you really don't want to go up against most of the attorneys in this town without one yourself.In many cases, you'll find that small landlords--those who own a few properties or a small complex--return deposits much more readily than the big corporations and management companies. They're often much easier to work with about getting things fixed, too, because they don't have a thousand properties to deal with.

Aileen Dingus 9 years, 9 months ago

Be especially careful if you are moving away from the area after vacating a rental. Before we moved here we informed our landlords (hereto referred to as "the bloodsuckers") of our intention to move. They scheduled a walk through of the place while we were still packing up to move (chaos!) and informed us we'd be billed for $1550 to repaint, $300 to replace or deep clean the carpet, $100 to replace missing screens, and $400 to plant grass.1. We offered to repaint the 3 rooms we painted. (two bedrooms, one wall in the kitchen, two walls in the dining room)2. The landlord wanted to replace the carpet the previous year, but we said not to bother.3. The screens were in perfect condition, just in the garage as they kept falling off the windows whenever it was windy.4. There was no grass to start with where they were talking about.So we said no, got served, moved 1500 miles, couldn't make the court date and now have a $2800 judgement against us on our credit reports. No mortgage for us!meh. Moral of the story- bubble wrap your entire apartment or house and never actually live there. Rent a motel room for the duration of your lease, take lots of pictures of the bubble wrapped home and have the landlords live there instead of you./rant over

Eric Neuteboom 9 years, 9 months ago

Be aware of your rights! For reference, check here:http://www.hcci-ks.org/THB.pdfI believe KU Law School also offers services to students who are having problems.

Ronda Miller 9 years, 9 months ago

David, I rented an additional house a couple of years ago to run a separate business, and even with a thorough move-in recording of all thumb tack holes, etc., I was still given a bill instead of a deposit return. The person who went over the house (post inspection) said the house looked much better than when I taken over the lease. Why did I end up paying? I was sent a bill that stated a hose had been left attached to a socket throughout the winter and caused an internal leak and damage inside the house. I obviously had no way of knowing if this was true, so I had to pay.Blogs such as this provide a great community service, David. It warns renters of what might happen to them and to be on the look out for it, as well as letting some of the landlords in our town know we are privy to their low downs! :)Yeah, we also have some terrific landlords in our city!

Linda Hanney 9 years, 9 months ago

Dave--we had several instances of refusal to return deposits when our kids were in college. So, before they moved in, they took pictures with dates of the apartment, especially dents, stains, etc. It was effective in at least one instance. However, technology has changed and pictures can be doctored. so not sure if this would work in today's market.

staff04 9 years, 9 months ago

I know that in Lawrence especially, it is difficult to leverage your power as a renter over the giants that are the leasing companies, but a couple of times even when I was in school, I was able to get addendums added to my leases that stated that IF any or all of a deposit was kept, that I would recieve both an invoice for the completed work and a walk through prior to a new tenant taking posession. I always kept my places in pretty good shape, but after losing a deposit once for work that I later discovered was not completed (a hailstone cracked a window), I never had any problems with landlords or leasing companies trying to defraud me. Might have even avoided time wasted in small claims court...

Moonbat 9 years, 9 months ago

The only problem I had moving out of an apartment at KU was with First Management. They tried to charge me for carpet cleaning, when I had it done. I cleared it up easily though by calling the cleaner and having them fax a copy of the receipt to First Management. All the apartments I've lived in make it pretty easy to get your deposit back. They give you a list of what to clean/replace, you do it, and they give you most of your deposit back. Unfortunately it does take some time to clean thoroughly, but if you want your deposit back, you gotta do it. Oh yeah, and the move-in inspection is important too..be very nit-picky (sp?).

Baille 9 years, 9 months ago

I am admittedly rusty on the smalls claims procedures, but it used to be that a corp. could appear without an attorney in small claims court.There is an AG's opinion from the mid-90s on that issue.And then 61-2714 would allow both parties the use of an attorney, which would kind of defeat the purpose.There is also a 2000 case (Babe Houser Motor Co., Inc. v. Tetreault, 270 Kan. 502) that says a corporation can go to Small Claims without an attorney as well. I don't know of any case law on whether a corporation as a defendant could choose to use an attorney or former attorney, though. Any insights?

alm77 9 years, 9 months ago

One of our friends was charged for a damaged door (it was that way when he moved in) so he said "Fine. But I get the door. That's my right under the law." They backed off and left the damaged door in the apartment. Which is probably what they would've done in the first place.

Baille 9 years, 9 months ago

I have had great landlords and crappy landlords in my time in Lawrence. Without a doubt, the property management companies were the absolute worst.Way back when I was an undergrad, I broke a lease because the renter breached our agreement by failing to fix several items, including a rampant mold problem. Soon after I left, he tried to make me pay the outstanding rent and keep the deposit. I sent him pictures of the apartment I had taken on move in, a copy of our rental agreement, letters from people who were present when we discussed his failure to fix the problems, and a cover letter explaining that I would take him to small claims court if he did not return my deposit. He returned my deposit and never contacted me again.These claims can easily be handled in small claims court. There are no attorneys allowed. It just the people themselves. File your claim, gather your evidence, and present your case. But it takes a lot of time to do that and renters and insurance companies know that. In my experience, automobile insurers and property loss insurers are the absolute worst. They routinely ding claimants by shorting them a few hundred dollars per claim knowing that it is cost prohibitive to hire an attorney and most people won't take their claims to small claims court. So they short you. A hundred here, five hundred there, and pretty soon they are saving money by screwing their clients.You have two choices: fight back or take it.

sdinges 9 years, 9 months ago

When I moved into my first apartment in Guelph, Ontario, it was basically a slum (but so was every other rental in town - too many students and too few apartments). Naturally, they promised to clean and paint the filthy apartment before I moved in and they did not. So I got a team together and cleaned it and painted it myself.During my stay there, I did my best to make the place my home and keep it in better condition than when I entered. Of course it didn't help that my bathroom ceiling collapsed due to a leak above. They promised to clean that up, but I eventually had to bathe and did it myself. After a few months they even fixed the ceiling.Then during my last month - more plumbing problems. I was away and on the day I returned, pipes had burst all the way up my line and I stepped into an inch of water. All of my furniture was ruined, the walls, the floors - all except the 50 year old appliances which were protected by a strange slope in the kitchen.So I spent my last month there sleeping on a mattress in the living room (the bedroom could not be used), industrial fans running to dry out the walls, and one day a lady was there checking the moisture and with all the attitude you could possibly muster, she turned to me and said "You're lucky it flooded because this color paint on your walls would have cost you your deposit."It took me a moment, because I couldn't believe the gall of her. I said "I'm not sure 'lucky' is the word I would use."

Fatty_McButterpants 9 years, 9 months ago

My old apartment not only kept my deposit, they have charged me a sum - equal to the deposit - for forfeiting the deposit.

geniusmannumber1 9 years, 9 months ago

Coach Eric's right. It sucks, and it's more work than you should have to go through, but you have rights, and if you're persistent enough, you're going to win. Also (and I know this is even a bigger hassle when you're moving) but take pictures of everything when you first move in.Also, in my rental days I had good and bad experiences with small landlords and large property management companies. The best I had was with a particularly well-known management company (but they're not paying me to advertise for them, so screw naming them). But I've known people who've had completely different experiences with the same people/organizations. Bottom line--it's a crapshoot.

mr_economy 9 years, 9 months ago

Just received my full security deposit back from Property Management Services. I knew the previous tenants of the apartment I rented, and had they not also received their full deposit back, I would have gone through a thorough documentation process when I moved in.State law protects renters' deposits against frivolous landlords / property managers, although you do have to go to small claims court. People should inform themselves (easily done with a quick Google search and less than an hour of reading).

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 9 months ago

"That's me on the cornerThat's me in the courtroomLosing my depositTrying to keep up the rentAnd I don't know if I can do it..."( Oh no, I've said too much )

David Klamet 9 years, 9 months ago

tangential.Thank you. I had that song humming in my head was I was writing, but decided against mentioning it.

Sigmund 9 years, 9 months ago

If you talk with landlords they will tell you the courts here are pro-tenant and terrible. If you talk with the tenants they will tell you the courts here are pro-tenant and fascist. Kind of tells me that Douglas County courts are striking a balance that neither sides is happy with which works for me!I have been both a landlord and a tenant (at the same time) so I have seen both sides.The trouble is most landlords know their rights and responsibilities (yes they have rights) and tenants think they know their rights and have no clue as to their responsibilities (yes they have responsibilities). Still I have never once not had my full deposit returned from any of the bigger complexes and on time, never.

yoornotmee 9 years, 9 months ago

Gage Management inspired me to buy a house.I found a steal of a house. It was originally listed at $89,500 but then it experienced some minor flood damage and we got it for $25,000. It's in a great neighborhood and the damage was easy and cheap to repair. The monthly payments are a couple hundred less than the monthly rent was with Gage, and if we just keep paying the amount we paid to Gage, we can have it paid off in six years. By the way, I'm 20 years old and work at a restaurant. If I can own a house in Lawrence, you can too.

kansasrose 9 years, 9 months ago

From my experience as a cleaner, it doesn't appear that these management companies, at least the ones I've worked with, are making any money. If anything, they are losing money. The condition of the apartments I've cleaned ranges from pretty good to 'I wouldn't let my dog live here'. Imagine dried up jello shots all over the walls, dead mice in ovens, etc. etc. Pretty gross stuff out there. After subcontracting out to clean these places, I doubt that these companies are making anything. I've seen apartments that pretty much need to be practically gutted to make them habitable. I'm not suggesting Dave that you didn't leave your apartments clean. I'm sorry you lost money! That stinks! I'd suggest to everyone to take photos at move-in and document everything. It seems a little on the obsessive side, but, better to CYA just in case. I've also seen apartments that are rented for far too much as well... there are great landlords and there are rotten landlords. I've worked with both.

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