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Old 12-13-2011, 07:39 AM
 
Location: Saint Petersburg, FL
414 posts, read 848,320 times
Reputation: 238

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I just wanted to post here to see if there was anyone else in VA in a similar position.

We moved out of our old place on 10/15/2011, but had the place until 10/31/2011. The house (a top bottom unit duplex with yard) was in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Our lease was from 6/1/2010 to 6/31/2011. The lease was a standard residential rental lease. For reasons I still can not figure out it said that "this lease shall not be subject to landlord/ tenant laws of the state" in it. Aren't all residential leases governed by the state laws in which the property is located in?

Anyway, in April of 2011 (I have email records indicating this) we contacted the landlord wanting to renew our lease. We had both phone and email conversations to this affect. However we were never provided with a new lease. In that conversation I was asked if I wanted to take over doing the lawn (cutting) and that we could take off $100.00 per month for this. She was paying 175 per month to a company to do it. I agreed to this and cut the yard once per week. This was to remain in affect from April to October, at which time we were going to start paying the full rent once again. Anyway...The current lease stated that it shall not roll automatically month to month. We continued to pay our monthly rent minus the 100 dollars. In September of 2011 we decided we wanted to move to save money. We gave them more than 30 days notice, and they were fine with that and also gave us a good reference. We had a good relationship with the landlord throughout the term of the lease as well. Repairs (what few ever did need to be made were made in a timely manner) except one, which was to the exterior of the home. Siding was ripped off the home during a very bad storm in August of 2010. We made the landlord aware of this (along with the up stairs neighbors did as well) the day after it happened. It was not bad, only a couple pieces of siding were ripped off by the winds. Anyway a squirrel moved into the house between the floors in the sun room and made a nest the following spring. It took almost a month to get the squirrel out with her baby. I have photos of all of this. The squirrel issue was because of the landlords failure to make the repair on the siding in a timely manner. Was not a big deal and it got taken care of that following spring (in April of 2011), but it did cause us headaches. Our ceiling had to be partially ripped out in order for them to get the squirrel and the baby out.

So here is my question. According to what I can find as far as Virginia law states, is that the LL must either return our security deposit in full within 45 days of us vacating the property, or submit an itemized list noting all deductions with reasons and repair costs..etc to us, then return the remainder of the deposit to us. However, there was no damage caused by us, in fact the apartment was left in better shape than it was in when we moved in, including us re doing the hard wood floors ( which were dull and needed attention) at our expense. I also kept and maintained the yard, and planted some things at my expense as well, thus improving on their property. We were told we could garden, do whatever we wanted with the yard. They knew I am a certified master gardener and were very pleased with how great things looked each time they stopped by, and they stopped by (they lived close by) on multiple occasions.

Since we have moved out I sent the landlord an email thanking them for renting to us, and also providing a forwarding address. I have not heard anything back from either one of them. My question is, that if we do not hear anything in the next two days ( the 45 day period expires on the 15th of this month) it is my understanding that they must return the ENTIRE security deposit to us. Does anyone here know if this is fact? I have found this and it would seem this is the case in VA: LIS > Code of Virginia > 55-248.15:1

Also, if we do not hear from them, do you think we are at the point where we should hire an attorney to go after them for the security deposit? The deposit was 1,800.00. Not a small sum.

Also, we were never asked to do any sort of official walk through, but rather just to simply leave the keys in the apartment on our last day there which we did. The landlord did stop by with the rental agent about 1 month before we moved and out and we did do a walk through so the agent could look at the house. It is the same agent we rented from and who I know personally as well. Should that count as the walk through?

There was no damage at all to the apartment aside from a few small picture holes, and some minor paint removed from a wall in the bathroom that was smaller than 1" x 1" square. Other than that the place was in the same / better shape it was when we left it. During the "walk through" with the rental agent the land lord said to me that the place looked great. Mind you, we did have a good relationship with them, so I really am not sure why they are not returning any of our security deposit to date. That said, if they are planning on not returning it thinking we are going to forget about it they have another thing coming. We will hire a lawyer if need be and sue them for the full amount of the deposit and our attorneys fees as well.


If anyone here has any experiences with this sort of thing, especially in Virginia, I would love to hear from you. Thank you in advance for the advice!

Last edited by United_Caps_Skins_Fan; 12-13-2011 at 07:54 AM..
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:03 AM
 
4,349 posts, read 4,425,895 times
Reputation: 5978
This is a VERY common issue. Many times a scumbag LL will submit to you an itemized list and charge you outrageous prices for things like cleaning, trash, etc. just so that they can keep your deposit. When I was in college my roommates and I put $2000 down on a place for a deposit. We left that place clean, yet we received an itemized list that said we were charged $400 for cleaning (even though we left that place clean), $500 to take out trash (there may have been 1 or 2 boxes left in the basement), and some other ridiculous fees that I can not remember. Scumbag LL know that there is a small chance that you'll do anything about it (after all who will waste time in court over $500 a peice?). Really the only thing you can do is take a ton of pictures, document everything that is broken when you move in, document everything that breaks as a result of wear and tear while you live there, and take photos when you leave.

There are lots of scumbag LL out there.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:08 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 65,136,625 times
Reputation: 26621
Quote:
Originally Posted by United_Caps_Skins_Fan View Post
I just wanted to post here to see if there was anyone else in VA in a similar position.

We moved out of our old place on 10/15/2011, but had the place until 10/31/2011. The house (a top bottom unit duplex with yard) was in Old Town Alexandria, VA. Our lease was from 6/1/2010 to 6/31/2011. The lease was a standard residential rental lease. For reasons I still can not figure out it said that "this lease shall not be subject to landlord/ tenant laws of the state" in it. Aren't all residential leases governed by the state laws in which the property is located in?

Of course they are.

Anyway, in April of 2011 (I have email records indicating this) we contacted the landlord wanting to renew our lease. We had both phone and email conversations to this affect. However we were never provided with a new lease. In that conversation I was asked if I wanted to take over doing the lawn (cutting) and that we could take off $100.00 per month for this. She was paying 175 per month to a company to do it. I agreed to this and cut the yard once per week. This was to remain in affect from April to October, at which time we were going to start paying the full rent once again. Anyway...The current lease stated that it shall not roll automatically month to month.

But it did since you weren't given a new lease and the LL continued to accept rent from you.

We continued to pay our monthly rent minus the 100 dollars. In September of 2011 we decided we wanted to move to save money. We gave them more than 30 days notice, and they were fine with that and also gave us a good reference. We had a good relationship with the landlord throughout the term of the lease as well. Repairs (what few ever did need to be made were made in a timely manner) except one, which was to the exterior of the home. Siding was ripped off the home during a very bad storm in August of 2010. We made the landlord aware of this (along with the up stairs neighbors did as well) the day after it happened. It was not bad, only a couple pieces of siding were ripped off by the winds. Anyway a squirrel moved into the house between the floors in the sun room and made a nest the following spring. It took almost a month to get the squirrel out with her baby. I have photos of all of this. The squirrel issue was because of the landlords failure to make the repair on the siding in a timely manner. Was not a big deal and it got taken care of that following spring (in April of 2011), but it did cause us headaches. Our ceiling had to be partially ripped out in order for them to get the squirrel and the baby out.

So here is my question. According to what I can find as far as Virginia law states, is that the LL must either return our security deposit in full within 45 days of us vacating the property, or submit an itemized list noting all deductions with reasons and repair costs..etc to us, then return the remainder of the deposit to us. However, there was no damage caused by us, in fact the apartment was left in better shape than it was in when we moved in, including us re doing the hard wood floors ( which were dull and needed attention) at our expense. I also kept and maintained the yard, and planted some things at my expense as well, thus improving on their property. We were told we could garden, do whatever we wanted with the yard. They knew I am a certified master gardener and were very pleased with how great things looked each time they stopped by, and they stopped by (they lived close by) on multiple occasions.

Since we have moved out I sent the landlord an email thanking them for renting to us, and also providing a forwarding address. I have not heard anything back from either one of them. My question is, that if we do not hear anything in the next two days ( the 45 day period expires on the 15th of this month) it is my understanding that they must return the ENTIRE security deposit to us. Does anyone here know if this is fact? I have found this and it would seem this is the case in VA: LIS > Code of Virginia > 55-248.15:1

You are correct.

Also, if we do not hear from them, do you think we are at the point where we should hire an attorney to go after them for the security deposit? The deposit was 1,800.00. Not a small sum.

You can hire an attorney but can also pursue the return of your security deposit yourself in Small Claims Court.

Also, we were never asked to do any sort of official walk through, but rather just to simply leave the keys in the apartment on our last day there which we did. The landlord did stop by with the rental agent about 1 month before we moved and out and we did do a walk through so the agent could look at the house. It is the same agent we rented from and who I know personally as well. Should that count as the walk through?

There was no damage at all to the apartment aside from a few small picture holes, and some minor paint removed from a wall in the bathroom that was smaller than 1" x 1" square. Other than that the place was in the same / better shape it was when we left it. During the "walk through" with the rental agent the land lord said to me that the place looked great. Mind you, we did have a good relationship with them, so I really am not sure why they are not returning any of our security deposit to date. That said, if they are planning on not returning it thinking we are going to forget about it they have another thing coming. We will hire a lawyer if need be and sue them for the full amount of the deposit and our attorneys fees as well.

If anyone here has any experiences with this sort of thing, especially in Virginia, I would love to hear from you. Thank you in advance for the advice!
This is all pretty standard stuff. Since you apparently maintained a good relationship with your LL it might be worthwhile to send a return receipt certified letter to him reminding him of his legal obligation to return your security deposit to you and give him five days to do so. If he either doesn't respond or refuses to return the SD then go ahead and file a simple claim against him. Good luck!
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:19 AM
 
232 posts, read 1,561,018 times
Reputation: 238
Regardless of what the lease states, it is subject to state law. Just because you sign your name to something does not make it enforceable. If you take that to court, the judge would (should) side with you. That line alone strongly suggests that you have a slumlord, and the rest of your letter backs that up.

Good luck getting things resolved satisfactory.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:29 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 65,136,625 times
Reputation: 26621
Quote:
Originally Posted by fibonacci View Post
There are lots of scumbag LL out there.
Nothing in your post relates to what the OP is questioning and neither - by the OP's own account - did the LL show any signs of being a "scumbag".

Quote:
Originally Posted by floridacara View Post
That line alone strongly suggests that you have a slumlord, and the rest of your letter backs that up.
The OP's own words about the LL/tenant relationship reflect completely the opposite.

But no surprises here. As soon as anyone brings up a question about a LL, the little coterie who believes every LL is either a slumlord or a scumbag feels obliged to throw in an opinion to that effect whether it's applicable to the matter at hand or not.
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Old 12-13-2011, 08:53 AM
 
Location: Saint Petersburg, FL
414 posts, read 848,320 times
Reputation: 238
Thank you for the replies and advice thus far.

No, our LL was NOT a scumbag, nor a slumlord. The house and the two units in the house were in good shape. They were DIRTY when we moved in, (mostly just things like construction dust ...etc) from being upgraded, but the house was in good condition. What few repairs we needed made to our dryer (in unit washer/ dryer) were made promptly. On the second occasion we even paid it ourselves and deducted it from our rent. Our relationship with the LL was good enough that we were OK with doing that. We had no real issues with the LL nor the house in our tenure there and would probably even recommend anyone else to rent from them because they were good LL's. They were a bit slow / lazy when it came to official stuff like getting us a new lease, which in the end worked in our favor because we ended up wanting to move to to the country to save money and have a bigger place, but that was it. The repair that was not made promptly was to the exterior of the home, and all that resulted from that (the squirrel living in and damaging the home) the following spring fell squarely on the LL and not us, nor was it the result of us. We left the house in better shape than we found it, and the LL even said it was in great shape when she did a walk through with the rental agent before we even began to move out. Anyway, we were good tenants to them, kept the interior and exterior clean, and I even fixed some issues with the basement that caused it to flood (we were warned about the basement flooding before we moved in and were only allowed to store outdoor items and / or plastic bins down there) which were nothing more than keeping two exterior drains clean. It still flooded, but only partially, and only around 1 door and only about 1/4" of water as opposed to the 12" of water in the entire thing the first time it flooded and the sump failed (which they promptly fixed). So no, I would not call them slumlords. Especially not in the neighborhood this was in (it was a high end neighborhood of Del Ray in Old Town Alexandria, VA) and the amount the place cost per month (1,800). Yes, it was probably over priced a bit, but definitely not a slum. I lived in one of those once where my entire bathroom ceiling caved in from water damage, the cause of which was the LL not heeding my calls to fix a leak from up stairs. THAT was probably much more of a case of slumlording.

Anyway, so I will wait the two more days and if I do not get a check in my mail box, I will remind them that we are entitled to our deposit back, and since it will be after the 45 days then we are entitled to ALL of the deposit back. We might even ask for the pet deposit back too, (we had a cat) but really my main concern at this point is the 1,800.00 deposit we paid to get the unit.

Anymore help, esp from those in VA and / or knowledge of VA Law specifically is greatly appreciated. Thank you again! I will let everyone here know how this ends up over the coming weeks.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:02 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 65,136,625 times
Reputation: 26621
Just a couple of quick points. You don't have to wait until the 45 days are up but could remind him now. Sounds to me as though your LL is a little preoccupied with other things and tends to be forgetful. Check your lease to see exactly what it says about your pet deposit. They're often non-refundable deposits.
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Old 12-13-2011, 09:22 AM
 
Location: Saint Petersburg, FL
414 posts, read 848,320 times
Reputation: 238
Quote:
Originally Posted by STT Resident View Post
Just a couple of quick points. You don't have to wait until the 45 days are up but could remind him now. Sounds to me as though your LL is a little preoccupied with other things and tends to be forgetful. Check your lease to see exactly what it says about your pet deposit. They're often non-refundable deposits.

I will be doing exactly that.


The only problem I have with "reminding them" is that, well, its not my responsibility. I have sent them an email thanking them, and providing a forwarding address, which should trigger the "oh I need to send them their security deposit back" response, but have heard nothing from them at all. At this point it is two days from being 45 days and honestly I really just don't want to give them an opportunity to try anything. My guess is that they did forget, but I don't want to invite them to go nit pick and try and charge us for all sorts of things we do not owe. I would rather just wait, then they are bound by law to pay us the full amount back regardless. Granted there is no reason on earth why they should keep any of it because there was no damage to the place. Even if the pet deposit is refundable (it should then be called a fee, not a deposit) I'm not really worried about that. That is small potatoes comparatively. Really, all that I want is my 1,800.00 deposit back, and we can all move on.

I was just over in my old neighborhood yesterday and the place is still not rented. When our up stairs neighbors (who had a bad relationship with the LL for different reasons) moved out, they with held their last months rent (did not pay) and let the LL keep the sec dep. Anyway, it took the LL 2 months to even get the place on the market, and when they did so, they did not even "turn it over". They spent nothing on cleaning it and it was rented "as is", which kind of surprised me because it was not exactly in a pristine state. It was not damaged or anything, but still really needed to be cleaned and it was not. The new tenant had to do all that herself when she moved in.

Anyway, thanks for the replies so far. I think I will bide my time the next two days then send some sort of reminder. Perhaps a certified letter to them asking for the full deposit back and go from there. Whatever happens I will keep this thread updated though so there is full followthrough here and perhaps it might help others in a similar situation.
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Old 12-13-2011, 10:56 AM
 
Location: Austin, TX
16,791 posts, read 45,156,450 times
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I agree that is the best tactic, let the 45 days expire, then send them a registered letter requesting the refund of the deposit as required by State law. Quoting the law to point out that you are aware of its requirements.
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Old 12-13-2011, 11:16 AM
 
4,399 posts, read 9,968,278 times
Reputation: 2369
Quote:
Originally Posted by United_Caps_Skins_Fan View Post
I will be doing exactly that.


The only problem I have with "reminding them" is that, well, its not my responsibility. I have sent them an email thanking them, and providing a forwarding address, which should trigger the "oh I need to send them their security deposit back" response, but have heard nothing from them at all. At this point it is two days from being 45 days and honestly I really just don't want to give them an opportunity to try anything. My guess is that they did forget, but I don't want to invite them to go nit pick and try and charge us for all sorts of things we do not owe. I would rather just wait, then they are bound by law to pay us the full amount back regardless. Granted there is no reason on earth why they should keep any of it because there was no damage to the place. Even if the pet deposit is refundable (it should then be called a fee, not a deposit) I'm not really worried about that. That is small potatoes comparatively. Really, all that I want is my 1,800.00 deposit back, and we can all move on.

I was just over in my old neighborhood yesterday and the place is still not rented. When our up stairs neighbors (who had a bad relationship with the LL for different reasons) moved out, they with held their last months rent (did not pay) and let the LL keep the sec dep. Anyway, it took the LL 2 months to even get the place on the market, and when they did so, they did not even "turn it over". They spent nothing on cleaning it and it was rented "as is", which kind of surprised me because it was not exactly in a pristine state. It was not damaged or anything, but still really needed to be cleaned and it was not. The new tenant had to do all that herself when she moved in.

Anyway, thanks for the replies so far. I think I will bide my time the next two days then send some sort of reminder. Perhaps a certified letter to them asking for the full deposit back and go from there. Whatever happens I will keep this thread updated though so there is full followthrough here and perhaps it might help others in a similar situation.
I would wait a couple days after the deadline and then request your deposit back. Your thinking is correct on that.
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