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Old 10-21-2015, 07:20 AM
 
10 posts, read 21,020 times
Reputation: 15

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Mostly, I'm just looking to make sure I'm doing the right things and following the correct steps to rectify our situation. Sorry in advance for the novel.

Last month, my husband and I closed on a condo and moved out of our apartment. We had previously lived in this apartment complex in Northern Virginia for 5 years: 3 years in one unit with our friend, and 2 years in another unit just the two of us. Living there was not terrible and the only complaints we ever had were about inconsiderate neighbors.

They gave us our 90 day notice to either renew or notify them of move-out back in June, with a note that if we renewed, our rent would increase an additional $275/month (Virginia has no rent control laws). The thing is, we are required to give them a 60 day notice if we are leaving, which really only left us with 30 days to find something else. We were fortunate to be able to buy something under such a short timeline, despite having been wholly unprepared to buy a home this year. But I digress.

Our move-out instructions told us to leave our apartment in "broom clean" condition. We were good tenants and took very good care of our unit, and after move out, we thoroughly scrubbed the place down for extra measure. We left everything in impeccable condition.

They are trying to charge us for a stove cleaning fee and a carpet cleaning fee, totaling $190. The assistant property manager, whom contacted me via email to give our final move-out bill, told me (when I questioned this) that she never personally walked the unit, but instead relied on her maintenance manager to do so. He sent her three pictures: the only one in question is the inside of the oven, because it features two grease stains, which I noted in our move-in paperwork were already there. I also noted the carpets were in used but good condition with only minor marks throughout the unit when we moved in. I have a copy of this paper. The other two pictures show the top of the stove and the carpets in perfectly clean condition. I had a phone conversation with the assistant property manager where I did flat out tell her we would not be paying for those items to be cleaned and only paying our final utilities.

At the assistant property manager's request, I sent the pictures WE took of the unit on the day we handed in our keys on 9/28. I have not heard back from her since that phone call, despite 4 more email attempts, 2 phone calls and 1 in-person visit to reach her to resolve this, with a follow-up to the property manager as well (who also has ignored my email). During the in-person visit to their complex office, I also wrote out a check for our final utilities bill and was assured by the office manager there that the assistant property manager would be reaching out to me when she used my check to reconcile our account with them. That was on 10/6.

At this point, I am preparing to go print the photos and send them a certified letter with a notice that I will be filing on 11/3 in Small Claims to contest the amount they say we owe if they don't respond to me. I don't WANT to go to the courthouse, because who does? So I'm still trying to resolve it the friendlier way.

I have a copy of our move-out instructions, a copy of our move-in paperwork documenting the condition of the apartment, as well as multiple copies of our lease and addendums. Nowhere does it say we are responsible for carpet cleaning at the whim of the property company. I have pictures my husband took on his phone. And I've drafted a certified letter to print and send tomorrow (I gave them until yesterday at COB to respond to my emails).

My question is, have I followed the right steps and is there anything I've forgotten or that you would do to resolve this?
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Old 10-21-2015, 10:42 AM
 
3,463 posts, read 2,717,146 times
Reputation: 3990
Just make sure you follow everything in both links:

http://www.valegalaid.org/resource/w...y-security-dep

https://vacode.org/55-248.15:1/
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Old 10-21-2015, 10:59 AM
 
10 posts, read 21,020 times
Reputation: 15
Thanks for those links, they are helpful. Fortunately, we did not have to put a security deposit down at all because we have good credit. But that's almost worse, because I don't want this ridiculous charge to hit our credit. I also don't want to pay it because we left the unit in excellent condition.
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Old 10-21-2015, 11:15 AM
 
3,463 posts, read 2,717,146 times
Reputation: 3990
If you followed all the steps in those links AND the LL followed all the procedures in those links then there is not much else to do. If you don't feel the charges are justified and you have proof then sue them or get some legal advice in your area if you still don't feel confident in doing so.

Only you can determine if it is worth your time and money to pursue.
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Old 10-22-2015, 06:45 AM
 
Location: Amelia View
4,211 posts, read 12,552,742 times
Reputation: 3737
SJ03, yes, it seems like you've done everything you can do ... sending the certified letter requiring a signature as proof of receipt throws the ball back in their court and they will have to respond by your due date. On the face of the story as I see it as an outsider, if you did take them to court, in my nonprofessional opinion you have a stronger case. That would mean, if it went that far and they did not prevail, they would also pay court costs (I think that's how it usually goes). I would doubt they would let it go that far over $190, and I would think (at least hope!) that it could be solved amicably before then.

I know that $190 doesn't seem like a lot of money, but it is a chunk of cash that could be put to better use in your new home, and there is the principle of the issue. It frosts me when businesses can nickel-n-dime us for alleged charges and we are forced to pay up or risk a bang on our credit.

Please keep us updated!
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Old 10-22-2015, 07:41 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
5,102 posts, read 5,385,884 times
Reputation: 12612
Quote:
Originally Posted by SJ03 View Post
Mostly, I'm just looking to make sure I'm doing the right things and following the correct steps to rectify our situation. Sorry in advance for the novel.

Last month, my husband and I closed on a condo and moved out of our apartment. We had previously lived in this apartment complex in Northern Virginia for 5 years: 3 years in one unit with our friend, and 2 years in another unit just the two of us. Living there was not terrible and the only complaints we ever had were about inconsiderate neighbors.

They gave us our 90 day notice to either renew or notify them of move-out back in June, with a note that if we renewed, our rent would increase an additional $275/month (Virginia has no rent control laws). The thing is, we are required to give them a 60 day notice if we are leaving, which really only left us with 30 days to find something else. We were fortunate to be able to buy something under such a short timeline, despite having been wholly unprepared to buy a home this year. But I digress.

Our move-out instructions told us to leave our apartment in "broom clean" condition. We were good tenants and took very good care of our unit, and after move out, we thoroughly scrubbed the place down for extra measure. We left everything in impeccable condition.

They are trying to charge us for a stove cleaning fee and a carpet cleaning fee, totaling $190. The assistant property manager, whom contacted me via email to give our final move-out bill, told me (when I questioned this) that she never personally walked the unit, but instead relied on her maintenance manager to do so. He sent her three pictures: the only one in question is the inside of the oven, because it features two grease stains, which I noted in our move-in paperwork were already there. I also noted the carpets were in used but good condition with only minor marks throughout the unit when we moved in. I have a copy of this paper. The other two pictures show the top of the stove and the carpets in perfectly clean condition. I had a phone conversation with the assistant property manager where I did flat out tell her we would not be paying for those items to be cleaned and only paying our final utilities.

At the assistant property manager's request, I sent the pictures WE took of the unit on the day we handed in our keys on 9/28. I have not heard back from her since that phone call, despite 4 more email attempts, 2 phone calls and 1 in-person visit to reach her to resolve this, with a follow-up to the property manager as well (who also has ignored my email). During the in-person visit to their complex office, I also wrote out a check for our final utilities bill and was assured by the office manager there that the assistant property manager would be reaching out to me when she used my check to reconcile our account with them. That was on 10/6.

At this point, I am preparing to go print the photos and send them a certified letter with a notice that I will be filing on 11/3 in Small Claims to contest the amount they say we owe if they don't respond to me. I don't WANT to go to the courthouse, because who does? So I'm still trying to resolve it the friendlier way.

I have a copy of our move-out instructions, a copy of our move-in paperwork documenting the condition of the apartment, as well as multiple copies of our lease and addendums. Nowhere does it say we are responsible for carpet cleaning at the whim of the property company. I have pictures my husband took on his phone. And I've drafted a certified letter to print and send tomorrow (I gave them until yesterday at COB to respond to my emails).

My question is, have I followed the right steps and is there anything I've forgotten or that you would do to resolve this?
I'm not sure that you can take someone to small claims court in this instance. Smalls claims court is when you're seeking a judgement for money owed to you. It's not to have a payment due contested.

In your situation, the property manager could take you to small claims in an attempt to have you pay the $190 because they are saying that you owe them money. You can't file in small claims court because they don't owe you money.

Now, if you had paid a security deposit and the amount was deducted from that security deposit, you could take them to court in an attempt to get the money refunded to you.

After ignored phone calls and emails, I would visit the office in person to get this straightened out. It's worth the time and effort not to have your credit affected.
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Old 10-22-2015, 08:00 AM
 
Location: Amelia View
4,211 posts, read 12,552,742 times
Reputation: 3737
Quote:
Originally Posted by HokieFan View Post
I'm not sure that you can take someone to small claims court in this instance. Smalls claims court is when you're seeking a judgement for money owed to you. It's not to have a payment due contested.

In your situation, the property manager could take you to small claims in an attempt to have you pay the $190 because they are saying that you owe them money. You can't file in small claims court because they don't owe you money.

Now, if you had paid a security deposit and the amount was deducted from that security deposit, you could take them to court in an attempt to get the money refunded to you.

After ignored phone calls and emails, I would visit the office in person to get this straightened out. It's worth the time and effort not to have your credit affected.
I was thinking about this, too. The OP isn't owed money and it's not really a contractual dispute either.

If it ends up going that far, perhaps mediation is another route.

The most important aspect of this whole thing is to get it finalized one way or the other. I've mentioned on other threads concerning tenant/landlord disputes that we learned a hard lesson. Let's just say that we let down our guard and thought a dispute was settled, but it wasn't and we started getting calls from debt collectors and our credit report got hit. The landlord bypassed the court system and sent the alleged debt to a collection agency.
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Old 10-22-2015, 10:19 AM
 
Location: North Idaho
22,653 posts, read 28,660,433 times
Reputation: 43633
In my opinion, you owe the carpet cleaning fee. You lived on the carpet and the next tenants want clean carpet when they move in. Its pretty standard for landlords to have carpet professionally cleaned between tenants and the majority of states allow that charge. $150 or close to that is what many carpet cleaners charge to deep clean a carpet. Some cleaners are a lot more. I just had an estimate for $250, so carpet cleaning can be expensive.

The dirty oven, you can contest if you have proof that you left the oven scrupulously clean. How much of the fee was for the dirty oven? Do you have proof you left it clean?

My suggestion is that you try to negotiate the charge down and then just pay it and move on with your life. Small claims court is stressful and if you don't win, you get to pay all the court fees. Plus, if you sue the landlord, they might find more things to charge you for and ask for that money, too. How much is your time worth and how much was the oven cleaning fee?
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Old 10-22-2015, 11:14 AM
 
Location: Southern New Hampshire
7,216 posts, read 12,651,511 times
Reputation: 21945
Quote:
Originally Posted by SJ03 View Post
They are trying to charge us for a stove cleaning fee and a carpet cleaning fee, totaling $190. The assistant property manager, whom contacted me via email to give our final move-out bill, told me (when I questioned this) that she never personally walked the unit, but instead relied on her maintenance manager to do so. He sent her three pictures: the only one in question is the inside of the oven, because it features two grease stains, which I noted in our move-in paperwork were already there. I also noted the carpets were in used but good condition with only minor marks throughout the unit when we moved in. I have a copy of this paper. The other two pictures show the top of the stove and the carpets in perfectly clean condition. I had a phone conversation with the assistant property manager where I did flat out tell her we would not be paying for those items to be cleaned and only paying our final utilities.
Um, you lived TWO YEARS in an apartment, but the grease stains that were there when you moved in were still there when you moved out?!!

I can see you not paying for the carpet cleaning, but the oven cleaning? Um, I would say you owe that.
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Old 10-23-2015, 04:32 AM
 
8,617 posts, read 19,042,500 times
Reputation: 11457
Quote:
Originally Posted by karen_in_nh_2012 View Post
Um, you lived TWO YEARS in an apartment, but the grease stains that were there when you moved in were still there when you moved out?!!

I can see you not paying for the carpet cleaning, but the oven cleaning? Um, I would say you owe that.

The oven, fridge and other appliances should be spotless. Who leaves grease on their stove for two years? That's not wear and tear, that's damage.

As for the carpet, if the lease states the carpet needs to be cleaned (professionally and a receipt provided) and it wasn't done, they should pay for that too.

I doubt that the carpet they lived on for two years was 'perfectly clean'. It may have 'looked' clean, but it wasn't.

I think they are getting off pretty easy and $190 is chump change. They should pay it and next time they should hire a cleaning company.
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