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Old 01-21-2015, 06:20 PM
2 posts, read 1,939 times
Reputation: 10



I lived in a unit with two other housemates for 6 months. The home had been rented out for about 5 years without evn being completely empty, and the other two roommates had lived there for about two years.

After my 6 months, the landlord decided to evict us all so she cold rent the unit out to family members. The said we had all been great tenants, but that's the way it was.

The previous tenant, whom I had replaced, receive her entire security deposit after moving out - noteworthy I believe.

I filed against her for not returning my $450 security deposit, nor delivering an accounting of why she had withheld any portion more than 31 days after deliverying my demand letter. This is open and shut according to Oregon Satutes and prior case law.

However, she decided to counterclaim in the amount of $2000 for damaged she believes I am responsible for. Apparently she claims to have spent $7000 on getting the house ready for new tenants.

My question is, do the facts of my claim affect her counterclaim, and what I can do to disprove her allegations of my resposibility for damages. I do not have any photos, but I can gather witness accounts (prior tenants that can attest to the state of the house).

Any help is much appreciated. In reality, I did not cause ay new damage to the house, aside from some cleaning fees and dry wall paint chips. But legally, she may be able to blame me for all of her repairs caused my years of previous tenants.

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Old 01-21-2015, 06:34 PM
892 posts, read 1,267,165 times
Reputation: 645
Landlord-Tenant Law in Oregon Booklet - Landlord-Tenant - Housing | Welcome to OregonLawHelp.org | A guide to free and low-cost legal aid, assistance and services in Oregon
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Old 01-21-2015, 06:41 PM
2 posts, read 1,939 times
Reputation: 10
Thanks, SETabor. I'll check that out again. I am looking into low cost legal aid, but thought I'd try my luck here as well.
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Old 01-21-2015, 11:09 PM
Location: Portlandish, OR
899 posts, read 1,453,102 times
Reputation: 928
look here: Community Alliance of Tenants - Oregon

They have form letters that you can customize/use and send depending on your issue. Read up on the sections of OR law about what deposits can be used for - it is pretty specific and there are timelines and documentation that is needed from the landlord, though you sound like you are aware of this. I used some of the letters on that site when my last landlord was illegally keeping my deposit. She had some illegal language in our rental agreement, in addition to not listing any damages on the deposit accounting after moveout. Long story short, I used a free EAP lawyer consult to double-check my stance on the situation, then sent a letter stating that I would go to small claims court to recover twice the deposit as allowed by the state of oregon, and that I would seek to garnish the award from her. She ended up lawyering up AND paying me back 100% of my deposit. I only spent postage to send a letter with receipt of mailing to her.

if push comes to shove you can have an attorney send the letter for you, I don't know how much that would cost. My deposit was over $1000 so for me it would have been worth it. if she is claiming you caused $2k in damages that should have been sent to you in writing during that 31 day period. she has to say how she used it.

Last edited by christiner81; 01-21-2015 at 11:19 PM..
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Old 01-30-2015, 02:28 AM
7 posts, read 5,581 times
Reputation: 22
I am not a lawyer, I just play one on TV. This is just my understanding, based on experience in the industry:

1) Were you listed on the lease? Were your roommates? Was the deposit listed on the lease as well?
2) Is it possible that the landlord did in fact notify one of your roommates of the charges?
3) Why do you use the word evict? Did the landlord actually serve you with an eviction notice, and then receive a judgement?
4) When you "take over" a lease you also take over the responsibility for the damage that has already been done in the dwelling by the previous tenants. Usually these types of things are noted at move-in.
5) Unless somehow specified in the lease, you and your roommates are jointly responsible for the deposit.
6) If you (jointly) paid a deposit, and an accounting was not provided to you within the 31 days, then you can demand something twice the amount withheld.
6) This fact trumps your landlord's counter claim, which would likely be thrown out unless there was some other issue that is not being considered here. If the landlord rightly thought $2000 of damages was reasonable, than this accounting should have been provided within 31 days. After 31 days, a landlord waives any right to collect on damages, even if they later discover that a tenant flooded the basement and mold developed six months later.
7) The landlord does not have to make the repairs, but does have to make a "reasonable" estimate. Again, this is irrelevant if he did not provide this accounting within 31 days.
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Old 01-30-2015, 12:32 PM
4,063 posts, read 4,229,243 times
Reputation: 2839
Originally Posted by TooViolet View Post
Again, this is irrelevant if he did not provide this accounting within 31 days.
This is my understanding of the law as well. If the facts are as stated your landlord either doesn't know the law (likely if they only rent 1-2 properties) or is trying to bluff you into dropping it and letting them keep the cash they're holding.

But I think Violet is right - your rights likely depend in no small part on whether you are officially on the lease or not.

I would say your experience also fits how I've perceived the rental market in Portland the past 5-7 years - a lot of landlords seem to be very aggressive about trying to seize deposits even when their case is legally weak.

If they did technically evict you without following protocol you may have a claim there as well- if they simply didn't renew a lease and provided the required notice, then it's not an eviction.
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Old 01-30-2015, 12:43 PM
Location: North Idaho
21,064 posts, read 25,948,687 times
Reputation: 39552
Did you pay your deposit directly to the landlord? If you didn't hand the money directly to the landlord and get a receipt for it, the landlord doesn't owe it back to you.

If you were evicted, the eviction papers should have given a judgement that you owed and that is legally your notice about your deposit.

You can go to small claims court if you think the landlord owes you deposit money back. Take your proof of everything: your copy of the rental agreement, photos of when you moved in, photos of when you moved out, proof of when you were out, proof that the property and keys were handed back to the landlord, proof that you left with all rent paid up, copies of any correspondence you had with the landlord, copies of your eviction notice.... every scrap of anything that you have concerning your stay in the rental.

Let the judge sort it out.
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