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Old 12-06-2013, 02:13 AM
 
5 posts, read 2,834 times
Reputation: 14
Default Help: Verbal lease, tenant wants out

Hello,

Should I give this guy back his deposit? How much?

How can I legally get him out of my house ASAP if he's not paid any rent and not signed a lease?

Any advice on how to proceed?

I'm thinking to either:
- deny him any money returned on grounds
•*he ripped up my rug in back room without my permission
•*he moved in and is now renegging

-= OR =-
- prorate deposit as he requests, minus some fee for him having made my house less rentable by ripping up the rug w/o my permission.
- tell him he's a moron for even suggesting I pay his "expenses"

He wants his "expenses that he's incurred" returned as well.

I recently moved to Pittsburgh from New England, but have a house in Baltimore. I've rented the house for about 7 years; its close to JHU and have found people to live there. That said, it'd been a pain to rent to people, coming and going, so wanted to rent the house to one party... or just get out. The property is in an area that's reasonably desirable, and has been mentioned on NPR recently as a hot market.

I'm an older, single parent of a younger child. Drive is 4 hours. We are broke, no money in reserve, all our funds depleted by a string of costs.

My bank (USAA) has said its very possible for me to get an unsecured loan (I've been with them since 1983, have a credit card and my checking with them; they had given me a car loan in the past) to finish the place. It should be only a couple thousand (paint, some hardware, rental truck to haul the debris and my time to do the work).

- Mid-OCT: started discussions with party (let's call him NEW) to rent my house in Baltimore City for 1 DEC; NEW answered a CL ad stating 3 month lease minimum.
•*House had been a share: Two of my old tenants were leaving, and I gave notice to 3rd to be out by the 15 NOV
- NEW requested year ("or more") lease; offered to do work on the house in lieu of rent, including but not restricted to, painting and some repair.
- ~15 OCT: NEW gives half month deposit to take property off market ($950).
•*I agree to a professional cleaning, which he can deduct from the first month's rent.
- ~15 NOV:
• NEW gives 2nd half month deposit. I give NEW key so he can paint.
• We review lease, but didn't sign it. He agrees to the lease verbally.
- 24 NOV: since my handyman is being called out of town, we put off changing locks until returns.
- 25 NOV: NEW, without my permission, goes into my house and does some rearranging:
• rips up rugs in two of the bedrooms:
- only tacks and subcarpet remain in one room: this room, I'd not agreed to bring up carpet
- carpet pulled back in another room; I had agreed on bringing up carpet in this room, but would not have had they not requested
• moves my furniture from 3rd floor; not a bad thing, but NEW and company brought a largish couch from 3rd floor to 1st, and I was going to cut the thing up anyway.
- 28-29 NOV: I prep the place for the cleaning, including pulling the tacks and such from the rug he'd removed
- 30 NOV: NEW moves in
- 2 DEC: cleaning happens, but they only have 1.5 hours to spend on it (for some reason). NEW advises he will want cleaners back to finish the job.
- 4 DEC: NEW advises that he wants out and his deposit AND EXPENSES back, prorated and he'll have his furniture out by end of month. He's not paid any rent thus far.

Yeah, yeah, mismanaged, and in retrospect, it was somewhat moronic of me to have gone this course. But its been difficult, and everyone w/ whom I'd rented had been really good. He'd been very enthusiastic about making the place his own, painting, working on it. Plus, living out of town with little girl, its been tough.

I'd hesitantly agreed to pulling the rugs in the 2nd floor, front BR, but was even more hesitant about the rear BR and wasn't committing to it and was trying to gently dissuade him. Ya just never know what's under them.

I'd wanted to sell in the spring, and this allows that. Had I given him the lease, it would have been another year before I could ethically start showing the house. And, it would have been likely he would have bought it; prior tenant in the share had wanted it, but it was way out of his price range.

The place has 3 bedrooms (2 on 2nd floor, 1 on 3rd), and the fire alarms are:
- 2nd floor, back BR: on wall in BR
- 2nd floor, front BR: sitting on transom (was going to mount one this coming weekend)
- 3rd floor, sitting in the transoms, except on the 3rd floor where it is mounted to the wall. My handyman and I had planned on putting in wired ones (Balto, needed in sleeping areas and basement) but he went out of town on family business at last minute before we could complete this.

So, he mentions improperly mounted fire alarms, but actually, only one of the 3 BRs is missing an alarm. In the interim between when they moved in and when I can mount one, there is one sitting on the transom.

Back BR, 2nd floor has some water coming in around a window. This is a new thing, and the plaster in the plasterboard is not damaged, but looks kinda ugly. After ripping up rugs, it was obvious this had been a problem before I purchased property (1997) as the floors had water damage next one of the windows.

Help? Advice?

His email:
================ 4 DEC ================================
After much consideration XXX and I have decided to not go through with a lease because we do not feel that the house is habitable or safe at the moment. XXX and I have already relocated to friends houses on a temporary basis and plan to have our furniture moved out by the end of the month. We apologize about the inconvenience, but we're just not comfortable in the house and we're not sure that any amount of work will over the next month will change the situation.

While we continue to love the neighborhood and many of the quirks and charms of the house, the poor air quality (we have both suffered from sore throats, itchy eyes, and headaches since moving in) lack of properly installed smoke detectors, the lack of working door handles, the dangerous condition of many of the floors (I got a splinter from the second floor hallway floor last night), the recurrence of black mold/mildew in the rear bathroom and the general dirt and grime that even a thorough cleaning couldn't overcome are more than we're willing to handle.

Since the house isn't habitable and because we had to relocate we would appreciate getting a pro-rated portion of our security deposit returned and reimbursement for the expenses we've already incurred including the $253.33 we spent on cleaners (not to mention the hours we put in on our own cleaning). Since its not feasible to move our furniture immediately we are open to an agreement that would allow us to store our furniture temporarily while we locate a new house. If such an agreement is not feasible we're happy to move our furniture into storage this weekend.

We're sadden that this hasn't worked out since the we both love the neighborhood and the community, but unfortunately the house just isn't livable given its current condition.

We look forward to working with you on this -
====================== end =============================

Last edited by mrmahann; 12-06-2013 at 02:25 AM..
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Old 12-06-2013, 04:49 AM
 
1,905 posts, read 1,506,006 times
Reputation: 2865
This is messy. I would first convince them to get the furniture out immediately and put it in storage like they proposed. Then, change the locks. After "inspection" give them the cleaning fee back as a good will gesture and consider it a lesson learned. The back rent crap? Ignore.
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Old 12-06-2013, 05:53 AM
 
138 posts, read 75,324 times
Reputation: 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by kharing View Post
This is messy. I would first convince them to get the furniture out immediately and put it in storage like they proposed. Then, change the locks. After "inspection" give them the cleaning fee back as a good will gesture and consider it a lesson learned. The back rent crap? Ignore.
Wow - yah, messy. Very.

Ok - let's get this part right - he's paid you $1900, total. $950 + 950. Correct? It is not clear what, exactly, he is expecting to get back. It sounds like he is asking for the 1900, less a small prorata amount based on a year's lease, plus something for services rendered. Based on your timeline, I'm thinking he was in the house for 5 days. But maybe you could call it a month, based on a reasonable minimum rental time. Renting by the day, you'd have to up your charging scale - but idk what local going rates might be.

How to get him out? I think "call the cops" is an answer. After all, no signed rental agreement. A verbal agreement is not generally regarded as having any legal validity in pretty much everywhere I've ever lived. You might have to go through a 30 day or 90 day eviction process, but after that, I think you can just dump their furniture at the edge of the street, change the locks, and call the cops if they do anything other than haul their furniture away. Since you don't have a written agreement, I'm thinking you don't even need the eviction notice period. You should ask about local laws - ask somebody who knows.

One thing for sure, you should get some legal advice.

But, my opinion, since it sounds like, other than the carpet, you got some real value from the guy's work, you might consider giving back half to 3/4 of that deposit - just to get the guy gone from your life with minimum hassle. Matter of fact, now that I say that, you might consider giving back that much just to be rid of him.

But now, another couple of comments. You two evidently don't agree about the condition of the house. However, you point out water damage around a window, that you were previously unaware of, but was not a new condition. Need to fix that, asap is better. I don't mean fix the interior damage - you need to fix where the water is getting in. If it has happened before, but not during your time in the house, it has been "fixed" before, too.

Next, "New" mentions black mold/mildew. If you have any black mold or mildew, I am pretty sure the only way to fix it is to completely remove anything that it grew on. If it is a very mild and recent outbreak (like less than a few square inches), using some bleach and IF you can remove the moisture source permanently - you can paint over it with reasonable success. But that is a homeowner's DIY make-it-do solution. I'm pretty sure a pro at taking care of mold/mildew will say you have to remove anything it grew on, including structural timber.

This is only a concern for two reasons. One - you want to fix these things as basic maintenance to keep the house from deteriorating. Like changing the oil in your car. Two - if you are selling, you will likely be held responsible and liable for these conditions. You will probably have to tell the buyer about them if you do not completely fix the situations before selling. I say all this because, just off the top of my head, I would say you'd need to rethink that fixup estimate to prepare for selling.

Or, you could ask the realtor you intend to use to put the house on the market to get a dollar figure for how much your "as-is" conditions might impact your sell price.

Cheers, and good luck!
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Old 12-06-2013, 09:20 AM
 
2,913 posts, read 2,009,637 times
Reputation: 2153
I am sorry that you are going through a tough time. I am also an out of state landlord and it not easy. Unfortunately, I have to side with the tenant. Renting an inhabitable place is bad business and there could be legal ramifications. I think his requests are reasonable and you should comply.

I would also apply for a loan and get the property ready to sell. Perhaps the loan can also include the mortgage payments. It would suck to have to put more money into the property after a tenant leaves. Why wait until spring? Buyers are on the hunt now looking for deals. If the property location is desirable, it should be snapped up quickly. This is one of the best markets ever. Good luck!
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Old 12-06-2013, 06:26 PM
 
5 posts, read 2,834 times
Reputation: 14
Thanks, everyone, for sounding off. I really appreciate the time you took.

NEW is exaggerating to make his case. There is no mold. There was some discoloration on the ceiling; yes, this is something I'm taking seriously, as there is water getting in. I've had the roof patched, but that portion of the roof needs to ultimately be rubberized, as has the rest of the roof. There was evidence of previous patch; it had held for the 17 years I'd had the house. That said, I plan on selling ASAP. I'd contacted my insurer/bank for a loan.

But its a LARGISH house and there are two other bedrooms. Also, he was well aware of the condition, and had ample chance to not move in.

As Kharing and Hiero2 mentioned, I"m inclined to give him back SOMETHING to incentivize him leaving. I'm planning on telling him that the period of his inhabiting the house is from when he moved in to when he moves out; that is, all his stuff is gone, and he has given me the key. Plus, if he cashes the check, then it will be indicative that he's accepted the settlement. Yes, be done w/ him.

Goodlife36, I respect your opinion, tho I didn't give you enough information on which to make a judgement.

ps AMAZING to get 3 great responses in less than 24 hours!
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Old 12-07-2013, 11:56 AM
 
2,913 posts, read 2,009,637 times
Reputation: 2153
I am a landlord and a tenant. Based on the information that you provided, I believe the tenant is right. Moving sucks.
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Old 12-16-2013, 08:30 PM
 
138 posts, read 75,324 times
Reputation: 146
Quote:
Originally Posted by mrmahann View Post
. . .

NEW is exaggerating to make his case. There is no mold. There was some discoloration on the ceiling; yes, this is something I'm taking seriously, as there is water getting in. I've had the roof patched, but that portion of the roof needs to ultimately be rubberized, as has the rest of the roof. There was evidence of previous patch; it had held for the 17 years I'd had the house. That said, I plan on selling ASAP. I'd contacted my insurer/bank for a loan. . . .
Yeah, maintenance ____ happens. I would advise caution on the water discoloration and mold / no mold declaration. For your sake, not for "NEW". I've seen that kind of roof issue - where one is ok for more than a few years, and then starts leaking. You have to be very careful with water damage - wood and sheetrock do not like water - they don't get along at all

I understand you when you are saying "NEW" is exaggerating. I've seen the like. Sounds like maybe he didn't look as closely as he thought, then "NEW"'s gf saw the property and started in pointing out issues. Thus, a sudden change in attitude. On the other hand, "New" could have some insight, in spite of any possible biases.

You can err on the lax side, and get away with it, but if you know or SHOULD know of some possible problem condition - well - imo it is best to get some good expert onsite opinions, and move forward openly and honestly. The legal requirements are still in favor of "buyer beware", but the ethical requirements - are a little more stringent.

So, bottom line, get a 3rd, and expert, opinion about the issues raised.

And, good luck to you.
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Old 12-21-2013, 08:16 AM
 
5 posts, read 2,834 times
Reputation: 14
I'm back to my plan A; selling the house. The rental issue has been settled.

I wiped off the "mold/mildew" with a wet cloth. The plaster of the board was fine, alas, after I'd removed some of it. My roofer noted a beer can in the gutter; one of the previous tenants was fairly careless. Brackish water backed up and spilled out onto the ceiling. He also repatched where there had been some patch.

One of NEW's friends backed out, so he was looking for an out. He's going to be moving out by the end of the month and has withdrawn his request for the security, and even the reimbursement of the cleaning fee.

Thanks for sounding off, everyone. It really helped me in a time when I was very anxious.
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