Games Landlords Play, Part 2


Tuesday, 30 December 2008 at 3:00 am Pacific USA Time.

I recently had some odd dealings with some landlords, so I want to warn people so that these problems don't happen to you.

Video Killed the Security Deposit Monster

When I move into a new place, whether or not they want me to fill out a form about the condition, I video the place. I take a tour. I note problems with lighting, plumbing, and the obvious like carpet damage, wall damage, paint damage, etc… I note the condition of things because I don't want them to later claim that I caused that damage. I want video proof that the place was given to me in that condition. That can save the day!

But recently, a landlord tried to get one up on me, and what they are doing is so dirty, I want to make sure everybody knows. It's legal! But it's still dirty. As my lawyer says, there's legal, and there's moral. :)

This landlord is trying to tell me that they may bill me for dust on the blinds. I said the blinds were dusty when we moved in. They said if it's not in their move-in inspection form (and not on my video), then I must have caused it, and they can keep my security deposit to fix it.

They told me that when their lease said that we change the air filter, they didn't just mean the one in the main air conditioning/heating unit, which I had been changing. They actually meant EVERY air filter. They expected me on a ladder in the bedroom to either change the filter or install one if one isn't there for the air system's INTAKE. And ready for this? They expected me to change the filter in the vent over the stove.

They wanted to keep security deposit for a stain that was in the oven before we moved in… but I didn't note the inside of the oven in the miscellaneous area of my move-in form, so I must have made that stain.

They wanted to bill me back to change the light bulb over the stove. Luckily, my move-in video DID show that light didn't work when I got the place. But I was spending so much time video'ing the condition of carpets, walls, and paint that I didn't video the things they wanted to use to keep my deposit.

They wanted to bill me back for a table that an artist had tiled badly, and was falling apart without us touching it. I tried to tell them this was put together by an artist, not a professional contractor, and gravity is winning. They're trying to say it was tenant negligence.

They wanted to bill me back for where some grout had come up between kitchen tiles. I assumed they knew about that when I moved in, but they're claiming that if I didn't note it in my move-in inspection, then I did it.

The Lesson?

Video everything. Open the toilet. Flush it. Run your fingers on the blinds and show if they're dusty. Open the oven and video stains. Open the fridge and video that. Turn every light on, and video if anything goes on. They want to bill me for bulbs that are out in lights I didn't know existed because I turned on a switch, and nothing seemed to happen… I thought the switch did nothing. So turn on a switch, and video a light going on OR nothing happening.

Video the condition of the tub and its caulk. Video patios, balconies, everything. Video for a half hour. Remember that 1 minute of video could save you HUNDREDS in some bogus claim your landlord could make when it's time to get your security deposit back. You will NOT be glad you skipped anything when the landlord tries to find what you missed in your video.

Don't let this happen to you. In this economy, you need your security deposit back, and they're going to want every dime of it they can get. And depending on how the lease reads, they can do this stuff! They can keep money claiming just about anything. A good landlord is not going to pull this on you. A malicious person is going to pull anything he or she can, and you need to protect yourself against that person.

Better to have a video and not need it than to need it and not have it, or not have recorded the areas you needed.


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Categories: That's Bad Marketing

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One Response to “Games Landlords Play, Part 2”

  1. Claire says:

    I can’t believe how anal your landlords are! Charging you for dust?! Ridiculous. I can’t believe how bad it is over there, when you have to resort to using a videocam to prove your point!