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Old 10-23-2014, 04:14 AM
 
Location: NC
7 posts, read 6,337 times
Reputation: 15

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Hi, all. I have been doing very thorough research, however; I have received contradictory information from every outlet (including lawyers, realtors, private landlord, etc.). There are also some questions I have that do not really require special knowledge, just some decent insight.

Explanation of my current (and near future) situation!

I live in North Carolina. In November 2013 I "took over" my best friend's lease. It wasn't truly ideal for me, but she had to move out (I offered to spot her the rent for one month, but she said she couldn't even pay the utilities, etc. and she moved in with her parents). At the time, it worked out fine, because I was released from my lease at the time (to move out when I choose) due to the conditions I was living in at the time. Yes, I am being honest about this. So, I was actually looking for a place to move rather quickly at the time. Since my apartment, at the time, was deemed uninhabitable (yes, I am still negotiating through my attorney with the management company/owner on a proper settlement), and they were paying for a family of three (my family lol) to live in a really crappy hotel.

Thus, I told her I'd take over her lease if it was allowed. It would "help" both of us out. So, she reached out to the property manager at her complex, and she agreed to let her out of the lease early - penalty free (she moved out November 27th, 2013, her lease did not end until Jan 14, 2014. Thus, I paid for December's rent, and I moved in on Dec 1st. 2013. I signed the lease on November 27th, 2013. I was hoping not to experience all that I had in the previous apartment complex in this complex, but in reality, it has been pretty bad.

I have been a renter for a decade. I prefer renting, and until this complex and the complex before, I have never had a single issue with a landlord. I actually agree 99% of the time with the landlord, because I know that it must be devastating if damage occurs to a property that they depend on for income, etc. That's a landlord's livelihood. However, I had never experienced such thoughtless and dismissive behavior regarding serious maintenance issues. The apartment I was living in (that I am in the process of settling with, or going to court with, if it doesn't work out) had major leaks from the roof and inside plumbing. I wish I could post pictures of the conditions. My ceilings were sagging, there was water pouring out of the light fixtures (the light fixtures in question had turned black, they "fixed" the issue by putting blue tape over the light switches, so we wouldn't forget to leave them off). I had black mold growing on the upper and lower moldings/baseboards due to the water. The washer and dryer were broken, and I had to pay $40/month for them, and they refused to repair and/or replace the set (it was included in the lease they were responsible for the appliances).

Most importantly, the apartment was heated by gas, and the stove used gas. Soon after the leaks became pretty much unbearable, I noticed a rather strong rotten eggs/sulfur. I called and emailed the PM multiple times regarding this, and we left the apartment (Google lol). The PM and maintenance promised that it was just due to the gas coming out of the stove, and it was not a true leak. I did not feel safe, so I did not return home, because everything I read stated that sulfur-like smells are signs of an actual gas leak. Our CO2 detector was found faulty by the home inspector, as I called the housing authority after I paid for someone to check everything out and was told to not enter the home. It had not been replaced during our "quarterly inspections," when they test the smoke alarms and CO2 detector. Obviously, the inspector stated that the apartment violated several housing codes (I did not list everything that was wrong). He stated that they needed to "rehouse" me somewhere for the time being, as the home needed major repairs before it would be up to code.

Thus, you can see, I had an urgent desire to find a new home. The apartment I am currently renting had/has massive issues, too. The a/c unit is in the attic/crawlspace and had a major leak. Within a night's time, the entire living ceiling was dripping water all over the carpets. I was told to put pots and towels down. It took over a week for anyone to come out (yes, I called and wrote to remind them, and this occurred during the week). By that time, there were huge water spots and a slight bulge in the ceiling (they put a small fan in the attic to dry our belongings and the carpet out, and then used plastic to cut off access to the living room. The ceiling had to be completely redone). Several weeks later, the a/c stopped working. We went without air conditioning for over almost two weeks (even though I immediately notified them). It's fine, me and my husband can deal. However, my asthmatic daughter (who was 6 at the time) was finding it difficult. I decided to stay at a hotel, where she would be a bit more comfortable. No, I did not ask for any sort of deduction. I asked for nothing. I would call every other day to inquire about the timeline for repair.

One of my two toilets has to be turned off (with the knob) after flushing (after I let the tank fill up) because it constantly runs (my water bill the first four months of living here was about 30-40$ and ever since the leak and toilet issues, it has ran 80-100$ per month) and the toilet downstairs flushes very weak, so most of the time,the pressure doesn't even get toilet paper down. I have asked them to repair it four times, and every time maintenance claims it is fixed - it isn't. These are only a few of the issues i've experienced.

However, they seem to have very little issue to come in and perform these monthly inspections. My sister lives in income-based housing, and I am aware that they do these really thorough inspections in income-based housing, at least in that county. I do not - nor have I ever - live in income-based housing. This is not subsidized housing. At least in my sister's complex, they check the cabinets to make sure the cans are forward-facing, they check to make sure the stove is clean, etc. However, in my 10 years of renting, I have never had a house inspection that required what is listed above, and also an inspection of the bedrooms. I can understand if a PM or landlord had reason to believe something "bad" was going on in the home (hoarding, animals in the home if they are not allowed, something illegal, etc.), however; I had never had a single complaint from the PM, maintenance, or my neighbors. I have a dog and a cat, both of which I've paid a pet deposit for, and pay "pet rent" for, and I also have never had a complaint regarding them. However, my landlord/property manager went through my entire apartment with a fine-toothed comb (even my closet, my daughter's closet, the bathroom cabinets, etc.). I was not given a notice. I have no idea why it was done. My friend (who rented here for 10~ months) stated she never experienced any of this. After this occurrence, the maintenance worker frequently entered my home. It is me, my young daughter, and my husband that live here. He would/will enter without knocking. I do not receive any type of notice, which I now know isn't required by NC law, but this is the first lease I've signed without the "24 hour notice" clause in it - I just had no idea it meant they could be THIS intrusive.

So, I had a dispute with the maintenance worker. I was trying to be mature about it, but he began yelling at me. I was in the downstairs bathroom - where the washer and dryer is located - getting dressed for work. The bathroom door was open (it is my daughter's bathroom). It was 8am. He walked in through the front door, and I instantly yelped and stated (loud enough where he could hear me) "I am not dressed! Give me 5 minutes, please!" Of course I was p*ssed off, but I tried to handle it the best way I knew how. So, I finished throwing my clothes on, opened the door, and I asked him why he needed to be here at 8am, when most people are getting dressed and ready for work. Honestly, I could have been in the living room completely naked. He stated that he would like to finish a repair he started when we first moved in...a repair that he stated he was going to finish months ago, but he never came back - so I assumed he wasn't going to fix it. It was minor (putting a door stopper on baseboard, conveniently in my bedroom), so I wasn't worried about it. I mean this isn't the first case of rudeness from him. I reminded him, since this was becoming commonplace, that I would prefer that he at least knock prior to coming in, so I have a warning. He yelled, "Well, you must not know NC law, but I don't have to knock to come in here. I can come in here whenever the hell I want. Look at your damn lease."

Obviously I slammed the door, and I called my PM. She stated that he can sometimes "speak loudly" but not to misconstrue that with yelling. I said that he also used derogatory language and my daughter was terrified and locked herself in her room. She said she would reach out to the realty company to discuss this with them, since I had complained about it a few times before (no knocking, his attitude, etc.). I never got a response (called her once more a couple days later, waited an entire week). So, I called them myself. I received a call back about a week later stating the *very* same thing the PM stated, which was pretty much along the lines of "men sometimes speak loudly and women take that as yelling, we do apologize he used cusswords, and can assure you that this will not happen again." I decided not to follow-up.

So, yeah. Anyway. My lease went month-to-month on Jan 14th 2014. I signed a new lease with a private landlord yesterday. I move in on Nov 7th. I am turning my notice in tomorrow (I had to find a place to live prior to turning in my notice, I could not risk being unable to find a rental). Thus, I will be giving a 15-day notice on a 30-day notice requirement. Which leads me to this:

NC GS 42-14 states that tenants on a month to month lease only need to give a 7 day notice. However, some people state that the lease overrides state law, however; some have said that it's the other way around. Can anyone in NC confirm or deny? I have reached out to two contract lawyers. Both stated something different, why? I have asked several people, everyone else gives conflicting information. I am unsure who to reach out to next. I am pretty sure the PM is going to state it is 30 days, and if she does, should I bring up the statute? Or should I just pay the remainder of Nov's rent instead of the prorated amount? Also, since these things have happened, I am afraid that she is going to go really hard on me and even if the walkthrough goes fine, I fear I will receive a huge list of charges out of spite. I know this is probably naive (and, yes, fear, I have pristine rental history). However, the only thing that I know I will not be responsible for are the ink stains on the carpet in the bedroom (from my friend's tenancy, she wrote in the contract that she is assuming responsibility for that and where her son painted on the wall). However, we both had dogs. If the PM charges beyond the deposits (rental and pet) for something like pet odor, am I the only one responsible? Or is my friend also responsible due to her having a dog (she also had a pet addendum on her lease and paid a pet deposit and pet rent for a dog, which rolled over to me when I moved in)? Or is that going to fall on me? I just have this huge fear, as prior to this rental and my previous rental, I have typically stayed in the same place for pretty long periods of time. This is the first time I have even contemplated moving out before my notice is up.

Should I include these details in my written notice? I have never been rude, obnoxious, or overbearing with my PM or even the maintenance worker. I have never complained about anything other than inquiring about the encounters with the maintenance worker, and only twice prior to the aforementioned incident. I have just dealt with the toilet issue, because I am seriously afraid of the maintenance guy. More so, I feel like they will think I am messing up the toilet or something. I don't know, I guess because he's scary and she's intimidating, I do not like to "complain" about anything, and I am fearful of both of them lol.

Of course, I made maintenance requests for obvious issues. I have always paid my rent on time, no stains or damage to the carpets, no holes in the wall, and everything is in good shape. I am just overly concerned due to the "personal" issues, and I know that people try their best to separate personal feelings from professional, but I do not feel like any of the issues I have brought to her attention have been taken seriously or handled professionally. How can I ensure that any charges she brings against me are fair and reasonable? Aside from documenting everything at the walkthrough, is there anything else I can do for some sort of protection? The deposit is my friend's, as is one of the two pet deposits, so I am not worried about that. I am worried about the "extra" -- or what the deposits do not cover, if anything at all. As I stated, there has been no damage other than what is listed in our lease that my friend stated she is responsible for b/c it happened during her occupancy of the apartment (this is all stated in the lease, and was signed by all parties).

Brevity is not my strong point, and I truly thank everyone who read this in full. I may have left some details out, so ask any questions if something is not clear.
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Old 10-23-2014, 04:38 AM
 
151 posts, read 156,789 times
Reputation: 274
You need to make brevity your short point!

Simple explanations are the best explanations. A short list of problems - especially if they're well documented problems - will suffice. Suggest you, 'keep your fingers out of the pie'. You're in a position where you need a competent real estate lawyer to represent you. Getting, 'you' and what you think out of the picture should help.
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:04 AM
 
Location: NC
7 posts, read 6,337 times
Reputation: 15
Okay. I didn't quite understand everything you said. I don't know what you mean by getting my fingers out of the pie? Why do I need a real estate lawyer's help with the current complex? I do not want to do anything other than get out, without the PM using personal feelings to override a factual representation of the apartment's condition. Further, I want to ensure that my friend's damage to the apartment, most of which was added to lease, with the exception of adding something about her also having a pet throughout her tenancy, will not be 100% my responsibility. Does that make sense? I have an attorney for the previous complex (with the extremely severe water leaks and the gas leak that finally got us out of there), and it has been a very slow process.

I guess my main two questions for the board is regarding my taking over my friend's lease and her having a dog, as well as me having a dog and how that will affect monies owed to the landlord? In total, there was a security deposit and two pet deposits. She moved out after living here for about 10-11 months and had a dog, and I have lived here for 11 months. We both have dogs. Will I be 100% responsible for anything the PM may state has been damaged by a dog (i.e., smells or "odors")? Or will my friend also be partially responsible since I took over her lease w/ her deposit and one pet deposit? I have no clue if that makes sense.

My last question is if NC GS 42-14, which states someone on a month-to-month lease only has to give a 7-day notice overrides a lease, or if the lease overrides state law? If the lease does override state law (in NC), what will I be responsible for if I move out on Nov 7th instead of Nov 30th? I am giving a 15-day notice. Will I just be responsible for the full month's rent of Nov, or could I be penalized for leaving prior to the 30th, too? Thank you!
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:09 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 62,121,844 times
Reputation: 26588
I'm usually pretty patient about sifting through long posts and separating wheat from chaff and maybe it's just a little early and my coffee hasn't kicked in yet but I agree. If you can eliminate all the trivia and simply present the bare facts it would make any response so much easier. It sounds as though you are worrying about something which might happen in the future. The only thing I can opine on is that state law tops any lease clause and your 15 day notice is not going to be sufficient if NC state law mandates a 30 day notice.

Suggest you read NC landlord tenant laws which are linked in the first "sticky" on this forum which will address this.

Note: NC law requires a 7 day notice on a month to month tenancy:
http://www.nolo.com/legal-encycloped...h-tenancy.html
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Old 10-23-2014, 05:35 AM
 
Location: NC
7 posts, read 6,337 times
Reputation: 15
Yeah, that's what I was inquiring about. I am going to be providing my PM with a 15 day notice. North Carolina state law (NC GS 42-14, yes I am aware of it, and I understand that my post was probably too long for you to get to that part where I stated 7 day notice is all that is required) states exactly what you quote, that I only need to give my PM a 7 day notice. However, upon further research, I am receiving contradictory advice. I am a month-to-month lease, however; it states [in my lease] that I am still required to give a 30 day notice.

Thus, I reached out to a few contract lawyers. I reached out to several people. I read forums, searched forums, etc. However, it's split. Some people argue that North Carolina state law will trump the rental contract, some people have claimed that these statutes only "matter" if there is *no* lease, and others argue that the lease trumps all. I guess I will present the PM with the statute and with my written notice today, and I will go from there.

I mentioned in my second post, which is much shorter haha, that I was definitely concerned about the way she will treat me considering the things that occurred since I've lived here (multiple maintenance issues, issues with the maintenance worker walking in without announcing - during morning hours when most are getting ready for work), etc. I just don't want her personal feelings toward me to affect the final process of things (she will want to have a discussion about why I am leaving, during the walkthrough, after she sends the statement of deposit, etc.). I guess I am just really nervous. Sorry again for the initial long post. I guess I was trying to explain why this situation is so nerve-wracking for me, by taking y'all through unnecessary details of my previous lease. I'll probably edit it in a bit. Now I am embarrassed. Lol.
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Old 10-23-2014, 06:04 AM
 
151 posts, read 156,789 times
Reputation: 274
Did you say that you had a lawyer who finally solved your first set of problems? What would you do with a really difficult R.E. problem? I worked with R.E. attorneys for 30 years; and, as I remember it, they were all sharper than that! A few phone calls, a few days, and it should have all been over.

(Do you, even, realize that a landlord can be successfully sued for nonperformance, and required to pay your moving and relocation expenses? THAT is, 'Why' you should always: (1) Get it in writing, (2) take pictures, (3) keep a diary, and (4) document all phone calls. Sometimes calling the police might even be an option. It depends! What you always need, though, is a history of the problems, and the landlord's failure to take prompt remedial action. Simply blathering on the internet is worth next-to-nothing.)

I'm not a lawyer; among other things I'm a retired R.E. broker, instead; but as I remember the business nobody's lease can override state law. 'He said/she said' doesn't cut it in legal arguments. With anything beyond small claims court representing yourself is, as far as I'm concerned, just another form of legal suicide.

Suggest you try interviewing several attorneys. Gather your proof; keep your facts simple; and ask direct questions. While you're at it, see if you can negotiate the fee as well.


NOTE: I just read your latest post. If there's a written 30 day notification clause in your lease document then, no matter, you're going to have to honor it.

Last edited by Delaware Davy; 10-23-2014 at 06:13 AM..
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:27 AM
 
16,384 posts, read 19,294,976 times
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If your lease states 30 day notice, then it's 30 day notice. Besides, you were originally long term lease, it just defaulted to month to month after that. I am pretty sure the law about 15 days notice for month to month is referring to leases which were always month-to-month.

Anyway, I would just tell them you are giving 30 days notice and you will be out by XXX date(30 days away_. Then pay them for the 30 days.

Then take your time moving to the new place. This will give you a few extra days to come back to the old place to clean-up. Then as soon as you are done with cleanup at the old place, then turn over the keys/give possession back to the landlord...even if it's a week early. Just contact them that day or the day before and say you are giving them the keys now because you move a few days early. Just make sure you track the date and who you talked to and who you gave the keys to.

You double pay rent at the old place & new place for 1-2 weeks (assume 1 week if you take your time cleaning up the old place...such as if you wait a couple days to go back there on the weekend to clean up, after you are rested from the move). No big deal.

This way you are more likely to get your security deposit back because you don't ruffle feathers about 15 day versus 30 day notice. Which if it's 30 days in your lease, you have to abide to it anyway.
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:31 AM
 
Location: Phoenix, AZ > Raleigh, NC
16,421 posts, read 21,217,909 times
Reputation: 27187
I didnt read the entire OP. But SwareToCod sounds about right, except don't "tell them" anything, ALL communication with your landlord should be in writing with proof of delivery.
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:32 AM
 
Location: St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
24,671 posts, read 62,121,844 times
Reputation: 26588
Quote:
Originally Posted by Delaware Davy View Post

NOTE: I just read your latest post. If there's a written 30 day notification clause in your lease document then, no matter, you're going to have to honor it.
I believe this is correct. When a term lease segues into a month to month, all terms and conditions of the original lease remain in effect and can otherwise only be changed with the notice mandated in state laws which is usually 30 days or one rent period.

OP, your 15 days notice is insufficient.
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Old 10-23-2014, 07:36 AM
 
Location: NC
7 posts, read 6,337 times
Reputation: 15
Thanks for clarifying, Davy. So, if it is in my lease, then it "trumps" state law?

Regarding the apartment that I am currently in negotiation with...I was a senior in college at the time. Thus, I utilized the free legal services offered to me. I have pictures, I have a lot of written documentation. My lawyer has all of this. Yes, I have been going at this for a year now. I didn't keep a diary, unfortunately, but I did keep all correspondence via emails and any written letters. However, the picture evidence and housing report is damning enough. The lawyer states that their lawyer is not returning his calls. Since I received representation as a student, I continue to receive [free] representation until this case is closed. However, he has yet to file anything. I keep pressing him to, however; he isn't very responsive. I am sure you can understand why.

At this time, I do not have the money to hire a top notch attorney, or even a bottom of the barrel attorney. I'll just stick with what I have. Hopefully, I will receive some sort of compensation. I am just asking for rent abatement in the amount of $5,000. However, they refused to pay this. Since that discussion, their lawyer has not returned my lawyer's calls. I told him several times to just file in small claims court. I am unsure why he hasn't, other than he probably has a ton of college student cases? Perhaps I will call him again today!

Thanks.
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