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Security deposit claim

Maria Mccarthy
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Posted Aug 20 2023, 11:17

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!

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Replied Aug 20 2023, 11:47

@Maria Mccarthy get a detailed estimate together of what you had to do to mitigate the smell and clean the apartment. Send it to the tenant and take that amount from her deposit. Its up to her if she wants to dispute it and take you to the Magistrate level court. 

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Maria Mccarthy
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Replied Aug 20 2023, 11:58
Quote from @Alex Deacon:

@Maria Mccarthy get a detailed estimate together of what you had to do to mitigate the smell and clean the apartment. Send it to the tenant and take that amount from her deposit. Its up to her if she wants to dispute it and take you to the Magistrate level court. 

Thank you!
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Replied Aug 20 2023, 12:46
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!


 I would send a letter outlining we have been trying to reach you but you did not provide any type of forwarding address. Due to you having a pet which was against the terms of the lease, the pet caused significant damage to the carpets and the unit which caused them to be replaced. The costs outlined below were X. The amount of deposit on the lease was Y. Please remit to us the remaining balance of Z at your earliest convenience. If payment is not recieved by (DATE), we may turn the balance over to collections.

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Replied Aug 20 2023, 13:21

@Maria Mccarthy  Always send a letter detailing costs even if you have to send it to the property address and leave it unopened. I would send that letter now to whatever address she provided.  If we miss the deadline in RI they can win by default even if they did damage, doesn't matter if they provided a forwarding address. If your states starts counting days after you get a forwarding address then you could be fine. Either way I would send the deduction letter.

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Replied Aug 20 2023, 13:56

Hindsight is great, but you should have sent her a registered letter detailing the break down to her last known address. If she had mail forwarded, she'd get it at her new address; if not, you'd get it back.  With the latter, you keep it unopened as proof that you sent it.

Give her the itemized bill and state damage was from an unauthorized pet and litter box that was not cleaned.

Also others had had good luck using an ozone machine to remove smells.  The house can't be occupied when it is running, but they aren't that expensive.

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Replied Aug 20 2023, 14:01
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!


 You'll have all items you paid for put together, receipts/invoices, labor charges, and anything else. I would also write up a letter too that states what happened and how the condition of the property was left so that you have it on file and she does if she tries to take you to small claims court. 

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Maria Mccarthy's profile image
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Maria Mccarthy's profile image
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Maria Mccarthy
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Replied Aug 20 2023, 15:11
Thank you! 

Quote from @Peter Mckernan:
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!


 You'll have all items you paid for put together, receipts/invoices, labor charges, and anything else. I would also write up a letter too that states what happened and how the condition of the property was left so that you have it on file and she does if she tries to take you to small claims court. 


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Maria Mccarthy
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Replied Aug 20 2023, 15:16
lol.  I argued with my husband about that but he disagreed.  I recall doing that with another tenant.  We didn’t try the ozone but it’s a converted house to a duplex (before my time).  So the first floor tenant would have been there.  I’ll keep it in mind.  In Michigan I believe they use a depreciated value, so may call an attorney just to be prepared.  

Quote from @Theresa Harris:

Hindsight is great, but you should have sent her a registered letter detailing the break down to her last known address. If she had mail forwarded, she'd get it at her new address; if not, you'd get it back.  With the latter, you keep it unopened as proof that you sent it.

Give her the itemized bill and state damage was from an unauthorized pet and litter box that was not cleaned.

Also others had had good luck using an ozone machine to remove smells.  The house can't be occupied when it is running, but they aren't that expensive.


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Maria Mccarthy
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Replied Aug 20 2023, 15:17
Thanks! Some good advice. 

Quote from @Peter Mckernan:
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!


 You'll have all items you paid for put together, receipts/invoices, labor charges, and anything else. I would also write up a letter too that states what happened and how the condition of the property was left so that you have it on file and she does if she tries to take you to small claims court. 


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Maria Mccarthy
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Replied Aug 20 2023, 15:18
I like your response.  Will use that as a base with the other comments

Quote from @Chris Seveney:
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!


 I would send a letter outlining we have been trying to reach you but you did not provide any type of forwarding address. Due to you having a pet which was against the terms of the lease, the pet caused significant damage to the carpets and the unit which caused them to be replaced. The costs outlined below were X. The amount of deposit on the lease was Y. Please remit to us the remaining balance of Z at your earliest convenience. If payment is not recieved by (DATE), we may turn the balance over to collections.


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Maria Mccarthy
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Replied Aug 20 2023, 15:22
lol. You are tough.  We all could probably use your docs.  However it seems that nowadays courts side with tenants.  However your approach has merit.  

And to think we were swayed by our property manager to give this woman a break.   Her credit wasn’t too good.  

Quote from @Chris Seveney:
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!


 I would send a letter outlining we have been trying to reach you but you did not provide any type of forwarding address. Due to you having a pet which was against the terms of the lease, the pet caused significant damage to the carpets and the unit which caused them to be replaced. The costs outlined below were X. The amount of deposit on the lease was Y. Please remit to us the remaining balance of Z at your earliest convenience. If payment is not recieved by (DATE), we may turn the balance over to collections.


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Replied Aug 21 2023, 04:16

@Maria Mccarthy in Michigan, a landlord is released from giving a tenant a breakdown of charges against their security deposit if the tenant fails to abide by Michigan statute and give their forwarding address within 4 days.

So, you legally don't owe the tenant an explanation or response.

If you want to take the tenant to small claims court for the damages that exceeded the security deposit, you will need their current address to have them served.

So, you might play a game with the tenant and tell them you need their current address to "move forward" regarding their security deposit and damages (do not mention amounts!).

Once you have their current address, start the small claims case.

Highly recommend you invest some time in learning Michigan landlord-tenant statutes or hire a PMC. Here's an easy to follow handbook published by the Michigan legislature:

https://www.legislature.mi.gov/Publications/tenantlandlord.p...

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ModeratorReplied Aug 21 2023, 05:45
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

1. You should inspect your properties at least once a year, even with the best Tenant in place. If you have C-class or D-class properties, inspect more often.

2. I don't understand why this is a question. The deposit can be used for cleaning and repairs. She obviously caused damage greater than the deposit so there should be no question in your mind. In fact, you should be sending her a bill for the renovations required by her unauthorized cat.

Consider hiring a property manager or at least start reading some books and the law to learn how to protect yourself better.

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Replied Aug 21 2023, 05:48
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!


 She gets nothing, end of story. Unless you had 1ks and 1ks and 1ks of SD, tell her to move on, 

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Replied Aug 21 2023, 15:05

Thank you!  Yes I am familiar with the landlord / tenant notice requirement but I find sometimes the courts handle things differently.

We did speak to the attorney and he said not to send anything as she did not follow through on the 4 day notice.  

We are not seeking recovery beyond the security deposit and are ready to move on.  

At some point I hope to transfer to PMC but not yet.  They do handle the rental now, etc., but not the actual day to day management.  

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Maria Mccarthy
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Replied Aug 21 2023, 15:06
Thanks. 

Quote from @Bob Stevens:
Quote from @Maria Mccarthy:

We have a tenant that leased for one year.  She had a no pet clause yet unbeknownst to us brought a cat in.  There were uncleaned litter box during an inspection.  We had a a broker present too.  The smell was terrible.  When she moved out , we sent notice of non renewal that week, she cleaned with significant pine sol smell.  Two independent people plus the new tenant said the smell was significant despite our efforts.  We had to tear out the carpet and padding, deep clean and laid out vinyl.  The smell remained for awhile even after that hence one reason we didn’t reinstall carpet.  

She did not provide notification of forwarding address as required by the lease AND the state of Michigan.  4 days yo be specific.   Yet  over 2 month later she’s asking for a status.  

How would you handle?   Thanks in advance.  We spent significantly more than the amount of deposit. 

Thank you in advance!


 She gets nothing, end of story. Unless you had 1ks and 1ks and 1ks of SD, tell her to move on, 


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Replied Aug 21 2023, 15:13

We do read the landlord/tenant rules. We have owned properties for 20+ years. Michigan  not as long. 10 years.  I find over the years landlord seem to have less rights, but it’s state, city specific.   And tenants seem more entitled than ever before.  Maybe we’ve been lucky but we haven’t had too much problem.  Thanks. 

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Replied Aug 21 2023, 15:20
Thanks!  The attorney actually said don’t send because she didn’t provide the proper notice.  If she sends in writing we will probably respond. We’ve had the costs already set for some time.  

Quote from @Alex Deacon:

@Maria Mccarthy get a detailed estimate together of what you had to do to mitigate the smell and clean the apartment. Send it to the tenant and take that amount from her deposit. Its up to her if she wants to dispute it and take you to the Magistrate level court.