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Old 10-13-2011, 07:56 PM
 
7 posts, read 7,765 times
Reputation: 19

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Hi, everyone.

My family and I moved here from Ohio and rented a house in the Ballantyne area. Our plan was to rent while we sought a home to purchase.

We kept the house in pristine condition. Nevertheless, the owner kept 95% of the security deposit. I could not sue him because the lease had a clause that required me to pay his attorney's fees for suits arising out of the lease, and I did not want to find up paying $10,000 in attorney's fees. Not to mention, I would have had to either hire a lawyer or take time off from work which isn't worth it to me for $1,700.

Anyway, someone from work experienced the same thing with her private landlord (as opposed to a rental community run by a corporate management company) when she moved here. I'm wondering if this is common.

Thanks
Rob W
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Old 10-13-2011, 09:27 PM
 
1,013 posts, read 2,647,349 times
Reputation: 757
He kept 95% or your security deposit!!!!

Of coarse the first question is WHY?


ETA;

You do not NEED a lawyer. Take him to small claims court. You already said you left the place in pristine condition, so I don't see a problem in winning the case. Collecting is another issue.

Last edited by Mike409; 10-13-2011 at 09:35 PM..
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Old 10-14-2011, 06:39 AM
 
1,738 posts, read 749,823 times
Reputation: 1371
Robert, I don't know the specific laws regarding leases in NC, but I do own my own rental properties in PA and managed 350 units in CA prior- and in both places, while a landlord may put anything they want in a lease, if the lease has no respect to state laws- the laws ALWAYS trump the lease. Also, all courts always assign all fees to the non-prevailing party REGARDLESS of what he put in his then bogus lease (and be SURE you ask for relief for all of your, and his, costs in your complaint.)

So, A) look into the laws regarding his use of that clause as it may have been an illegal clause to begin with, and trust me, the courts will come down HARD on the landlord if they "bamboozled" you in any way, and B) even if it is an allowable clause, if he did not get your funds and/or the disposition of any held funds to you within the state's timeframe for doing so (usually 30 days from the date you moved out)- he WILL lose the case and the clause will be struck down due to his own negligence. Whether he is a corporate property owner or not- it is HIS responsibility to know, and honor, state and local laws and no judge will EVER give preference to unscrupulous, or even merely ignorant, landlords. Furthermore, in PA at least, the landlord may even be liable to pay the tenant DOUBLE what he erroneously kept if they find him at fault.

So, if he did not follow protocol (and you did not actually break your lease term, damage anything, leave it dirty, or owe him back rent, fees, etc...) and he can't PROVE that you did- he will lose in court 100% of the time, as when certain landlord claims are in discrepancy or doubt- the courts are mostly always favorable to the tenants, and rightfully so. As a landlord- it is our responsibilty to make sure that we know, and follow, the law to the letter and assure that our leases comply as well. As a tenant- it your responsibility to investigate said laws when you feel that you may have been treated unfairly by your landlord.

So, good luck. If more tenants actually looked into their rights and the state laws regarding their tenancy to begin with and then challenged any illegality or discrepancy-- unscrupulous landlords would stop trying to intimidate their tenants with unenforceable "scare tactic" clauses in their leases. But sadly, many bank on the fact that most tenants will never check the actual laws or bother to take them to court to begin with, so they'll put anything in, or leave anything out of, their leases in the hopes that you will never know the difference.
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Old 10-14-2011, 07:47 AM
Status: "On The Lookout" (set 20 days ago)
 
Location: The Triad (NC)
28,378 posts, read 61,723,541 times
Reputation: 31921
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robertwalpole View Post
We kept the house in pristine condition.
Nevertheless, the owner kept 95% of the security deposit.
what reasons (claims) did he have for this?
and specifically... what did he put in writing to explain his action?

A LL keeping all/most of a SD happens all the time for all sorts of reasons...
but there are rules about HOW he can do it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by source
The landlord can retain part or all of the security deposit to cover the following costs:
(1) the tenant's failure to pay rent; (2) damage to the premises;
(3) expenses related to the tenant's moving out before lease expires;
(4) unpaid bills of the tenant which become a lien against the premises;
(5) costs of re-renting the premises after a breach of the lease by the tenant;
(6) costs of removing and storing the tenant's property after eviction; and
(7) court costs in connection with terminating a tenancy.

a landlord must return the tenant's security deposit within 30 days
after the tenant has surrendered the rental property to the landlord
(i.e., returned the keys and vacated the property).

If the landlord's claim against the deposit can't be finalized within that time
(i.e., necessary repairs haven't been completed), the landlord may send an interim
accounting at the 30-day point and then a final accounting within 60 days.
do some reading and research:
North Carolina Security Deposits
North Carolina Security Deposit Limits and Deadlines | Nolo.com

hth

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Old 10-14-2011, 08:37 AM
 
162 posts, read 597,773 times
Reputation: 98
As a landlord here in NC, they are required to send you an itemized list for what was kept from the deposit and why. I believe they have to do this within 30 days of moving out. Read the NC statutes, it is pretty clear. The general theme is the property must be returned to the landlord the same way it was moved into minus "normal wear and tear". That is a pretty broad statement and given the costs of repairs for certain things, it is very easy to rack $1600 of stuff beyond normal wear and tear (imagine cracking a stone counter top etc...). I also agree with previous response... landlords can put anything in the lease they want, but the law trumps the lease, so you may have a case.

Good luck
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Old 10-14-2011, 08:57 AM
 
Location: Charlotte, NC
4,760 posts, read 6,406,696 times
Reputation: 5236
Robert, did you stay the entire term of the lease? You say you were going to rent while you found a home to buy. Just thought I would ask.
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Old 10-14-2011, 02:59 PM
 
7 posts, read 7,765 times
Reputation: 19
Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

I did stay the whole lease term.

I was charged for wear and tear on the carpets and for not maintaining the garden, both of which were utterly dubious. Nothing was put in writing. He left a message on my phone.

Anyway, what prompted this inquiry is that a co-worker, who's also new to the area, told me that her landlord did the same thing, so I wonder if this is common.

Thanks again.
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Old 10-14-2011, 04:47 PM
 
Location: Way up high
14,115 posts, read 20,814,156 times
Reputation: 14385
Maintaining the garden is not your responsibilty. It's the owners or landscaping company that does your yard. That's retarded.

Also, I'm sure the carpets have wear and tear, HELLO their carpets. Unless there was major stains, etc then all they would need is a cleaning which is cheap.

Tell him you want it in writing and proof of the carpet bs and then take him to small claims court. GL
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Old 10-14-2011, 06:28 PM
 
1,738 posts, read 749,823 times
Reputation: 1371
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robertwalpole View Post
Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

I did stay the whole lease term.

I was charged for wear and tear on the carpets and for not maintaining the garden, both of which were utterly dubious. Nothing was put in writing. He left a message on my phone.

Anyway, what prompted this inquiry is that a co-worker, who's also new to the area, told me that her landlord did the same thing, so I wonder if this is common.

Thanks again.

Robert, no matter how long ago this happened, I strongly recommend that you go file your lawsuit. You DO NOT need a lawyer, and to me, unless you make over a million dollars a year--- the $3400 dollars, plus expenses (such as your days pay) that you get for your trouble will be well worth it.

Even if all you are awarded (as you WILL be awarded- I almost guarantee you) is the original amount of deposit--- the message you are sending to unscrupulous landlords is priceless and you'll be doing society a favor if you can help end some reprehensible business practices.
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Old 10-14-2011, 06:40 PM
 
3,774 posts, read 6,988,172 times
Reputation: 4402
^that!

-a landlord
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