Security Deposit not Settled Since 6 mnth - Can I go Small Court

3 Replies

Landlord – 75 Cinnamon Spring, South Windsor, CT 06074,

I vacated the house on 29th Oct 2017 after they inspected and agreed it’s in good condition and after 1 month I requested him to settle the deposit then he asked for my new address which I provided my new address, he send the check and maintenance receipts explained below. I replied to him with details given below for that he was not replying so I sent him back the check and asked him to discuss and settle down my security deposit amount $1300. Now, he is keeping full amount and not replying to me. I have send multiple mail, email and calls he is not responding to the queries or suggestions given below. Even I tried through Coldwell Bank Agent and Cinnamon Spring Management he is not responding - almost 7 months now. Need your suggestion.

Landlord mentioned 2 issues in reply to deposit - 1. CARPET CLEANING. 2. SEALING REPAIR.

  • 1.CARPET CLEANING: Initial landlord sent me a fake receipt/bill with $296.72.

Tenant replied: 296.72- This is not a bill as it does not have invoice number and date mentioned on it and it’s just an invoice online any one can get it. So, I cannot agree on this bill. I had sent you the pictures of the cleaned carpet and house. We had done a carpet cleaning before leaving the house. While taking the house itself I had mentioned to you that to get the carpet changed in the living room as its worn-out and when I took the house carpet and deodorization was in bad shape. While leaving your representative mentioned there is no issues with house and its absolutely fine so we gave the keys to her. But, we were surprised with this deduction which was not mentioned while taking the house keys. Even Coldwell bank is agreeing that carpet was in bad shape when I took over for rent and he cannot chart for cleaning.

Landlord replied: with another bill saying there was a discount on the bill the amount came down to $256.35. Surprisinglythe clearing vendor and the bill was totally different.

Tenant Replied: Sorry to let you know this but again the carpet cleaning invoice provided is not having the invoice number, provider name or their address.

Landlord has not replied to this request for 7 months now.

  • 2.SEALING REPAIR $746.96: This issue happened way back in June/July 2017. We had some email exchange about this issue and I made it clear it was not our fault.

Issue: My daughter had spilled a mug of water in the bathroom and she informed her mother and she cleaned it. Meanwhile below house landlord came to us saying that the water is leaking through her roof and she also mentioned it’s been happening since long timeand told that she will call cinnamon management and get it checked. Cinnamon management came and told us to get the toiled cracks sealed so the water will not leak down easily and they repaired the below house sealing. Landlord sent me a bill of $746.96 because of water leak and management did sealing repair. Landlord agreed to split the bill details given below. But landlord did not involve us in any of the discussion happened between management and him.

Landlord: deducted full amount $746.96 from the house deposit when I vacated the house in Oct 2017.

Tenant:746.96- As we have already discussed on this issue and I have given enough proof and explanation that it was not my mistake.

  • ØAs its already mentioned by bottom house landlord that it was not that day’s issue,it just aggravated on that day. Its been there for long. That means your bath room has cracks and it’s not sealed properly and i had mentioned in my previous emails that you need to get it repaired and still you did not get it repaired.
  • ØI also tried with my insurance as well to reimburse and you did not give the proof of leakage which is required by the insurance, so they rejected the claim. If this happened to current tenant again they will have to pay for it, as you have not done the water leak proof to the bathroom and not replaced the broken tiles?
  • ØBefore I vacated - Landord agreed: Email dated on 7th September 2017 (email text copied below).

" I am willing to split the total amount of the invoice ($746.96) and pay 50% or $373.48; and, in addition, given a possible financial hardship, allow you to make monthly incremental payments towards your share of the balance ($373.48) over three months, beginning inOctober 1, 2017 and ending on December, 1, 2017. Further, I would recommend that you file a claim with your tenants insurance and recoup (after the deduction) some of the aforementioned expense; your settlement based on a total of $746.96 after deduction ($500) would net $246.96, which you could apply towards the balance ($373.48). Again, this is only a recommendation, which I would do if I were you—however, that is ultimately decision".

  • ØLandlord email dated 6 Sep: "However, I will have the repair service determine if the tiles are in need of repair in either the bathroom or kitchen area—which should determine an issue— or not—and alleviate any further concerns with water".

Now Tennent Suggesting: - Yes we can split the bill 50%-50% for this Landlord is not agreeing. If you are currently not willing to pay 50%, then I strongly suggest that we can get the repair service guy (professional plumber) investigate and determine this issue. I am not convinced yet, because of spilling a mug of water (single incident) should not have caused such a damage in the bottom house ceiling and as the person who lives in unit 76 has also quoted that there were leaks few times before we started living in your unit.This is the reason I want a professional guy to let us know whether it was a chronic problem (because of improper water proof sealing in the bathroom), which got aggravated because of that one incident or a mug of water (single incident) can caused such a havoc.

Please clarity the commitments given by you earlier in email and settle down the deposit amount at the earliest.

I have tried to reach you multiple times through email as it was the official communication we had since beginning of the rental agreement since 2016.

I have tried to connect with you through Coldwell Management; they told you did not respond to them as well.

If you do not respond within a five working days, it shall be assumed that you are withholding the deposit unfairly and we will therefore be taking it to small court.

Look into your Landlord Tenant laws for OH and your city. Most have recourse for tenants who are in your situation. It will probably involve filing in court, but it’s typically something you can do on your own (you don’t need a lawyer)

Keep all your communications and pics and bring them before the judge.

It may take a bit of work, but if you’re in the right, you’ll get at least your deposit back.

Part of the answer to your question will be found in the lease agreement that you signed.  If you signed a lease that told you that you are responsible for repairs if damage occurs, then you landlord may have a case for the toilet repair.  However if you can get a statement from the person living below you that the leaking into her ceiling was happening before you moved in then you have a case.  However, you mentioned that your daughter spilled a mug of water on the floor and that would not cause any leakage to the floor below unless this is a very low rent property or it was a very big mug.  So be sure of your facts if you want to go to court, because the judge will question you about your story. For leaks caused by plumbing fixtures, I have not seen it charged to the tenant unless the tenant broke the fixture.  If you did not break that toilet, you need to state that in your presentation if you decide to go to court.  By the way, it sounds more like a leak under the toilet in the wax ring than from lack of caulk around the toilet.  There would have to be lots of water on your bathroom floor regularly (like not using a shower curtain when taking a shower) for faulty caulk around the toilet to leak enough to get into the ceiling of the apartment below.  You should not be responsible for caulk around a toilet as a tenant.  However, it is the tenant's responsibility to notify a landlord of leaks right away.  You will need to be very clear that the bathroom floor was not often wet with water from a shower or tub usage to have a chance at getting your deposit back.

So now let me tell you what you may have in your favor and what you will need to be effective in court:  

1. You must have a receipt for cleaning the carpets or having them cleaned if you did this yourself.  That receipt would have the date, name of company you hired or name of rental place you rented the carpet cleaner from.  If you did this yourself be sure to put the receipt for the amount you paid for the soap as well.  Put those receipts in your Evidence folder as evidence that you did have the carpet cleaned.  If you paid with a check provide a copy of both sides of the check to show it was cashed.  If you paid with a credit card copy the record in your credit card statement.  Having that evidence will help you get out of the carpet cleaning charge.  Also include the statement from the property manager that stated that the condition of the carpet was not good when you moved in.

2.  At the time of check out, if you have a reasonably good property management company who managed the property, you would have been given a  Move Out Inspection sheet and it should be signed by you and the person who checked you out.  Put that in your Evidence folder.  You said that you were told that the place was clean and in good order at check out.  So that being said, no judge is going to look very kindly on a company who takes your security deposit with this kind of documentation.  If you have not documentation of these events you need to request them from the property manager or you will most likely not prevail in court.

3.  You will need a copy of your rent payments or rent roll history.  You need to show that you paid rent on time every month you were in residence.  If you did not and were charged late fees they must be paid before you get a full security deposit back.

4.  Landlord communication dated Sept 6:  This is confusing to me.  If there is a leak in the toilet that was let go for a long time, there can be a lot of damage, like rotten wood, cracked tile, need to replace a floor and floor covering, mold amelioration etc.  But spilling a mug of water on the floor would not cause this kind of damage ever.

5. The fact that the landlord did not respond is good for you for your case but you need to have documentation. That means you need copies of the emails sent, memorandums of phone calls hopefully signed by Coldwell Management,
a letter from Coldwell Management stating that they attempted to reach the landlord and there was no response.

6. If you have any photos of the damage area and the repair with documentation of that repair including the costs and the name of the person doing the repair put all items in your evidence file. 

7. Now go to your local magistrate court and file the lawsuit in small claims court.  You will have to pay a court fee to open the case, a fee for service of the lawsuit to the landlord.  If there was an active property manager that person or company  should also be named as a party in the lawsuit.  Keep track of all of your court costs and be sure to include them in the total amount you are seeking.  If there is any penalty available to you in your county, for this kind of behavior on part of the landlord or property manager add that penalty to the paperwork you fill out.  (You will find that information in the landlord tenant laws for your state and county.  You can act as your own lawyer in this case but you will need to be able to stand up in court and present your case to the magistrate judge.  NO there is not likely to be an audience, just you and the defendants and whomever has interest in seeing this case.

I would like to thank you a ton for such a beautiful explanation and tips.

You will leave the Dwelling in good and clean condition, and you will repair any damage that was caused by yourself or others, normal wear and tear excepted.

No I don’t have any proof – However if you can get a statement from the person living below you that the leaking into her ceiling was happening before you moved in then you have a case.

It was a small mug 900ml mug and we are paying $1300 rent. But the house is very old with broken tiles and cracks – I have pictures of cracks and broken tiles. I can present it as proof of leak.

I did not break anything, this is just one time incident my daughter spilled 900ml of water in the bathroom. I still use the same mug. Yes there is a faulty caulk around the toilet to leak enough to get into the ceiling of the apartment below. Service guy mentioned it to use to get the faulty caulk sealed.

So now let me tell you what you may have in your favor and what you will need to be effective in court:

1. No I did not do professional cleaning, I did it myself and I don’t have any bills to prove. I have an email from agent saying it was worn-out to start with. Can I use emails communication as proof ? I have old emails requesting him to clean the carpet as its dirty.

2. No I have not received any proof of evidence. it was verbal At the time of check out. But I have photos taken when I moved out and had sent email to landlord.

3. I have paid the rent on time and there are no delays – I stayed there for 13 months.

4. Landlord communication dated Sept 6: This was just one time incident. Yes my argument is spilling a mug of water 900ml on the floor would not cause this kind of damage ever. This I have many emails which clearly communicated to landlord with pics and proof. Later he said we will make it 50%50% bill sharing.

5. I have been prompt in replying and communicating to him. I have send 10 email reminders and couple of main communication I have the USPS receipt.

6. Yes I have photos of the damage area (cracks in bathroom and broken tiles) and I have emails sent to landlord with all these detais and he agreeing we will investigate this and settle. Again will email proof work ??

7. I am working on how to file in small court.