Every renters deposit STOLEN by new apartment owner Vancouver, WA

15 Replies

Had a discussion with potential tenants for my SFR. Their current landlord bought the complex they live in about a year ago. He told them that their previous deposit left with the old owner and they had to pay him a new deposit to continue living there.

Is this legal?  Do they have to sue the old owner to get there deposits back or is current own full of (ENTER expletive?)  

In my state if you buy a property knowing there is a lease in place you are legally obligated to continue that lease.  If the new buyer did not arrange to get the deposit money from the departing landlord it is his problem.  Normally those are transferred at closing by the closing agent.  Perhaps they applied to purchase price.  You might check to see what the laws are in your state.

@Jerry W.  What you say is true in Washington State as well. 

@Drew Mim Mack Tenants don't always relay information correctly and some intentionally lie. Highly unlikely this happened. But if it did, all security deposits the tenant paid during their tenancy to the previous landlord and the current landlord would need to be accounted for by the current landlord in the "final report on deposits" at the end of tenancy. Hopefully the tenant kept their receipts and/or the rental agreements show how much security deposit the tenant paid during the course of tenancy.

Security deposits are transferred from one contract owner to the next.

I'm curious why this came up?  I can't help but get goose bumps when a tenant mentions something like this - what do they expect you to do for them as a favor? 

In other words, don't do anything differently for these tenants from what you normally do, just because they have some hard-luck story.  

Is this their excuse for having a bad reference?  My instinct is to run the other way from these applicants.  Something is fishy.  And applicants who smell fishy are not a protected class :-)

@Sue K. Buahahahahahaha!  Fishy isn't a protected class!  Love it!

@Marcia Maynard @Sue K. In this case I have to side with my potential tenant.  She makes 4k a month and will most definitely pay a security deposit, 1st & last plus monthly pet fees.  All of this was explained and agreed upon.  she even had bank statements to back up everything she said.  FYI - her monthly income is very good for Vancouver, WA.  More info: my current tenants haven't given notice yet but my instincts are usually good about this sort of thing... it's coming soon (and I know some of their friends who may have mentioned something, wink wink.)  

I've seen the prospective tenant here and there so she isn't a stranger.  We happen to be at the same place at the same time so we started talking.  I reached out to her after she mentioned the dilemma.  That sounded fishy to me so I mentioned I may have a house available soon.  She seems trustworthy but naive, I assume the new landlord is sleazy at best.  I just asked for her original rental agreement and receipts.  If she kept them she'll have something to go to court with.  I feel helping her is a form of community service and I may even get a new tenant out of it!!!  I love win/wins :) 

Originally posted by @Drew Mim Mack :

@Marcia Maynard @Sue Kelly In this case I have to side with my potential tenant.  She makes 4k a month and will most definitely pay a security deposit, 1st & last plus monthly pet fees.  All of this was explained and agreed upon.  she even had bank statements to back up everything she said.  FYI - her monthly income is very good for Vancouver, WA.  More info: my current tenants haven't given notice yet but my instincts are usually good about this sort of thing... it's coming soon (and I know some of their friends who may have mentioned something, wink wink.)  

I've seen the prospective tenant here and there so she isn't a stranger.  We happen to be at the same place at the same time so we started talking.  I reached out to her after she mentioned the dilemma.  That sounded fishy to me so I mentioned I may have a house available soon.  She seems trustworthy but naive, I assume the new landlord is sleazy at best.  I just asked for her original rental agreement and receipts.  If she kept them she'll have something to go to court with.  I feel helping her is a form of community service and I may even get a new tenant out of it!!!  I love win/wins :) 

 Sounds good! I love putting sleeze-ball landlords in their place.  I and my close family and friends have a saying - "Let me be your consequence."  Meaning, sometimes I believe that people get away with baloney, until the cosmos provide someone to finally give them a consequence.  Sometimes that's my job.  Simply to be someone's consequence.  I'm strong and not afraid of bullies.  So, I think sometimes that is something I was blessed with, in order to stand up for others who are not.  In other words, this soft-hearted person over here may not be strong enough to give you a consequence - so, let ME be you consequence."  I'm happy to do the honors :-)

So, be their jerk new landlord's consequence.  Good on you.

@Jerry W. So my prospective tenants are being scammed?  Is this legal for him to do?  Can they request back all their deposit payments to the new owner?

@Sue K. I really like you!!!  You sure know how to make a good person feel better about themselves.  I wasn't to sure about what I should do for her.  Now I have a game plan... quick, to the Bat Cave!!!

Your tenants have every right to their deposit, under normal circumstances (reasonable deductions based on damages above normal wear and tear).  Their damage deposit goes with their contract.  Whomever owns their contract (or did when they vacated) is responsible to refund it, under the law.

They can sue the current landlord if he doesn't honor it, and he can sue their original landlord if he didn't turn over the deposit money to the new guy.

But, it's on the current owner of the contract to honor it, including the deposit.

@Drew Mim Mack If her current landlord is indeed unscrupulous, then her proof of security deposits paid will be even more important. She would do well to document all previous things said and in the future communicate with the landlord primarily in writing and have witnesses present for all face to face interactions. There is legal recourse she can take if the landlord tries to keep money he is not legally entitled to keep. There are tenant advocates willing to help as well.... but hey, it sounds like you are stepping into that role. 

My advice would be to stick to facts, document, and know landlord-tenant law better than he does. If I were the tenant, I would not rock the boat at this point or show all my cards. If the landlord doesn't provide the "final report on deposits" within 14 days of receiving back possession of the unit, then the tenant will be entitled to a full refund of all security deposits paid. If the landlord does provide the report, but has the security deposits incorrectly noted or charges for items that are erroneous, the tenant can challenge that and take it up with the small claims court if need be. Here are some links that may be of help.

http://www.tenantsunion.org/en/rights

http://www.washingtonlawhelp.org/issues/housing/te...

http://www.clark.wa.gov/courts/district/cases.html...

@Marcia Maynard You rock!!!  I'll look into these websites soon... as a landlord myself I should know the laws better than anyone else!  BTW-double coffee date soon?  Any Sunday but next.  I'm flying back to San Francisco for a wedding. 

@Marcia Maynard @Sue K.  

Update: she says she'll get all docs to me.  Rent check and extra deposit paid separately!   Yaaay there's hope!

@Sue K.

UPDATE: tenant was misinformed.  The new landlord has all deposits but required twice as much.  Every resident has to play catch up with raised deposit requirements.  All is good in Vancouver, WA :)

Originally posted by @Drew Mim Mack :

@Sue Kelly@Marcia Maynard

  All is good in Vancouver, WA :)

 Unless you're one of those tenants, eh?

Glad you updated and that all is well :-)

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