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Old 03-18-2011, 02:50 PM
 
122 posts, read 291,423 times
Reputation: 60

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Shalom - you are entitled, after 30 days, to sue for double whatever you're owed. It's covered in landlord-tenant court, a special section of small claims.

I would honestly sue for the cost of your security deposit plus $350 to make up for the gap - 1x your security since it was 30 days late and the $350 since it's double what was withheld. Worst-case scenario, the judge only awards you X. The filing fee cost doesn't change depending on how much you sue for.

If you have the proof of mailing in the form of the certificate of mailing from your certified letter, and you never receive a return receipt, then it isn't your fault that the landlord doesn't check his/her mail on their address of record. Best-case for you, you retain your proof of attempting to communicate with them in good faith and you bring the documentation to court. If he doesn't get, he doesn't show, and the judge will probably find in your favor. Worst-case, they open it and respond, you'll probably get your $175 minimum or $350 if the judge sides with you.

IANAL but I did have to threaten my former landlord at one point with seeking relief by law - that got them hopping.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:58 AM
 
Location: Jersey City, NJ
31 posts, read 184,348 times
Reputation: 13
jdm2008, todd72173, and MJPByron:

Thank you very much for your support and information.

This is what I've decided: I'm not going to attempt another postal mailing (why spend another $7 if non-retrieval might happen again, right?), but I will send him an e-mail with the pics and the text of my original letter. (Will I threaten him with court? I'm leaning towards no--he's been a landlord for awhile now, so I expect him to know what the potential consequences of his actions are. Then again, I might change my mind and tell him, "If you don't do 'X', then 'Y' will follow." It'll pretty much depend on how I feel once I'm in that moment.) If I get no response/an unsatisfactory response, I'll file in landlord-tenant court, and I'll ask for everything that I'm entitled to because, really, this is ridiculous.

I'll come back and post updates as they occur.
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Old 03-19-2011, 12:22 PM
 
5,542 posts, read 12,005,667 times
Reputation: 8500
LSNJLAW - D: Chapter 3: Security Deposits

According to NJ Rent laws when you sue, you are entitled to DOUBLE your security deposit. Landlord cannot withhold or use security deposit for cleaning; you are only required to leave it "broom clean."
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Old 03-19-2011, 07:58 PM
 
Location: Cranford NJ
1,033 posts, read 3,303,882 times
Reputation: 391
In NJ, a landlord cannot withhold security money for cleaning. All notices must be in writing. You may be entitled to treble damages. Sue for 3X plus court fees.
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:04 PM
 
Location: Jersey City, NJ
31 posts, read 184,348 times
Reputation: 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellwood View Post
LSNJLAW - D: Chapter 3: Security Deposits

According to NJ Rent laws when you sue, you are entitled to DOUBLE your security deposit. Landlord cannot withhold or use security deposit for cleaning; you are only required to leave it "broom clean."
Thanks so much for the link.

Yeah, I knew that I was required to leave the apartment only broom clean, so what gets me about all of this is that I went above and beyond "broom clean." Not only did I completely clean the bathroom and kitchen, in addition to all of the other rooms; I also mopped--mopped!--every square inch of every floor in that apartment.

I guess this'll teach me, huh?
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Old 03-19-2011, 10:16 PM
 
Location: Jersey City, NJ
31 posts, read 184,348 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sergio M View Post
In NJ, a landlord cannot withhold security money for cleaning. All notices must be in writing. You may be entitled to treble damages. Sue for 3X plus court fees.
Yeah, I know, but here's the thing: This dude is claiming that the apartment was "very dirty," and that the refrigerator had to be cleaned, the bathroom had to be cleaned, the kitchen had to be cleaned, etc. I wonder what he'll say when he sees the pics that I took of, for instance, the inside of the very empty, very clean refrigerator.

Like I said upthread, though: landlords pull this kind of s--t because (a) they don't expect the former tenants to have taken move-out pictures, and (b) as a consequence of the tenants not having pictures (my understanding is that many people don't take pictures when they move out), they don't expect the former tenants to challenge them.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:14 PM
 
7,463 posts, read 6,244,164 times
Reputation: 7059
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ellwood View Post
LSNJLAW - D: Chapter 3: Security Deposits

According to NJ Rent laws when you sue, you are entitled to DOUBLE your security deposit.
Landlord cannot withhold or use security deposit for cleaning; you are only required to leave it "broom clean."
Basically you just need to leave the rental in the same condition as when you moved in. Normal wear and tear is normal wear and tear. If a tenant destroys an 8 year old carpet that had a 10 year guarantee on it...that will be prorated.

No judge is going to let a tenant destroy an apartment or make a landlord incur major fees after tenant moves out (to clean up after tenant) and let the tenant say "I broom swept, so give me 2x my security deposit back".

The landlord might want his kitchen sink and cabinets back...literally.

Last edited by Informed Info; 03-19-2011 at 11:22 PM..
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:17 PM
 
7,463 posts, read 6,244,164 times
Reputation: 7059
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalom Bayit View Post
Yeah, I know, but here's the thing: This dude is claiming that the apartment was "very dirty," and that the refrigerator had to be cleaned, the bathroom had to be cleaned, the kitchen had to be cleaned, etc. I wonder what he'll say when he sees the pics that I took of, for instance, the inside of the very empty, very clean refrigerator.

Like I said upthread, though: landlords pull this kind of s--t because (a) they don't expect the former tenants to have taken move-out pictures, and (b) as a consequence of the tenants not having pictures (my understanding is that many people don't take pictures when they move out), they don't expect the former tenants to challenge them.
You obviously have a stupid landlord.

And you obviously didn't do a walk-through WITH your landlord when your lease ended.

You should have had him sign off of a little piece of paper that stated everything was in good repair and acceptable to him upon your move-out.

Apparently your landlord DIDN'T expect you to...so he COULD and DID challenge you.

Fudging the dates on digital pics is not unheard of.
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Old 03-19-2011, 11:17 PM
 
18 posts, read 44,020 times
Reputation: 23
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ann77 View Post
If it was me, I would let it go. But if you have the time to go chase down $175 then go for it. At this point, I would just file the claim in small claims court. You've already sent certified mail that he didn't pick up.
One, a landlord cannot charge you for "deep cleaning" no matter what they say. The law says that you have to leave the apartment "broom" cleaned. You are not responsible to clean the oven or the refridgerator or even the bathroom. Broom swept is just that. This is something landlords try to do to not send out all your security deposit. The fact that you even reminded this person that he has 30 days to return your money was too nice if you ask me. A landlord should KNOW the law and not be reminded of it.

Two, if the landlord does not pick up the letter this doesn't matter. You can say that there is no reason that you can see that the letter was not picked up as it was not returned to you for "address unknown" and that no forwarding notice was issued and that the letter you sent was the same place you sent your rent checks to. (I assume). As such there is no reason to believe that the certified letter would not have been picked up.

Three, take this person to court for your money. The law says that the landlord must return your security deposit to you within 30 days less any rent you owe or any charges for repairing DAMAGE (not cleaning) that may have been done to the property. If the landlord deducts any amounts for damages or rent, he or she must give you a complete list of damages he or she claims you did to the property and the cost of repairs. The landlord must send you the list of damages by registered or certifed mail and the landlord must return to you any money left over from your security deposit (along with any interest not given to you yearly). Cite: N.J.S.A. 468-21.1. A landlord cannot charge "administration fees" either.

The landlord can only charge you for property damage that is more than ordinary wear and tear.

Landlords cannot charge fees to tenants who leave their apartments broom clean. Landlords often try to deduct such fees as well as fees for painting.

The Rent Security Deposit Act states that if the court finds that the landlord wrongfully refused to return all or part of a tenant's security deposit, the court must order the landlord to pay the tenant DOUBLE THE AMOUNT OF THE SECURITY DEPOSIT if it is not returned at all, or double the amount that the landlord wrongfully deducted from the deposit.

When you file your Small Claims Court complaint, make sure you ask for double the amount of the deposit. (Note: Even if you forget to ask for double the amount of the money when you fill out your complaint, the court still must give you double because the law requires it.) Also write on the complaint the words "together with interest and costs of the suit". This means that you will get the interest and the money that it costs you to file the complaint ($20 plus mileage).

Renn
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Old 03-21-2011, 03:38 PM
 
Location: Brooklyn, NY
412 posts, read 1,105,322 times
Reputation: 248
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shalom Bayit View Post
cocoaeve:

Did you tell her in writing that you'd be vacating the apartment as of the end of March? I hope so, because written proof might be of some help to you if you do end up going to court. And just to be safe, I'd suggest that any contact you have with her from this point forward be done in writing (and make copies for your records). I would suggest certified mail, return receipt, just in case. (Even if you have verbal communication with her, I'd follow up in writing--again, with copies for your records.)

As for your suspicion that she was in your apartment: My lay understanding is, if you gave notice, she has the right to show the apartment to prospective tenants; however, she has to get permission from you or give you 24 hours notice before entering your apartment (unless there was some kind of emergency situation). If she did neither, then she entered your apartment improperly.

As for the security deposit: If you vacate the apartment at the end of March, legally, she has until the end of April to return your security deposit (or the security deposit, minus any damages, with a statement explaining the damages, which must be sent to you via certified mail). If you don't receive the security deposit within 30 days after you vacate, then you can take her to small claims court and request double or triple (I forget at the moment which one it is in NJ) what you're owed.

Good luck.
Yes she received written proof. I still have a copy of the letter. She even said that she will putting a vacany ad on Craigslist.

I have no problem with her showing the and she even said she would inform me but she did neither. Her broker even told me that they will call me when they want to show the place.

I just don't feel she had any right going in there without calling me in advance and she has my contact number.

You are right again, I will be taking pictures of the move out, learned that from People's Court" and will make sure my camera date stamps them just in case she says otherwise. I read it was double but feel she still can't return my deposit because I moved out before April 1st so that she can cover the rent.

Not paying rent to any landlord for any apartment I no longer live in.
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