Two Weeks Late on Partial Deposit Return and Didn't Include Pet Deposit

16 Replies

What to do?

My wife and I recently purchased a second house and moved out of a temporary apartment. We have one question about the deposit returned from Landlord.

The particulars first:

1. We did not receive our deposit disposition/ ledger statement and refund until 6 wks after the move out date (Utah law states that we should have had it within 30 days.)

2. The disposition is much different than what the resident manager verbally stated the charges would be (by double) after we completed our move-out walk-through inspection.

3. The pet deposit we're owed was not even mentioned in the disposition. 

So, the question, how do we get our money from them now?

I have both called and emailed and so far have received no response from them. I'm unsure whether I can submit the "TENANT'S NOTICE TO PROVIDE DEPOSIT DISPOSITION" (per Utah Code 57-17-3, etc.) since I received the partial refund before I submitted the formal "DO IT NOW!" paperwork to them.

Any suggestions?

probably not the most appeasing answer here - but this is a renter forum and BP is largely a landlord community, not a renters rights forum.

check the language in your lease. You might not have a case for anything if you made certain agreements. 

sounds like the move-out walk-through was typical of what happens, but It doesn't matter what the resident manager said to you- he's probably not the ultimate decision maker.  in Utah what counts is what's on paper, not verbal, so you should have made some kind of checklist when you moved in and compared to when you moved out. 

Regarding the pet fee - check that it is indeed refundable. Often times they are not. I don't call it a "deposit" because it's never getting refunded no matter how clean your pet is. No exceptions on that one. 

Hi, @Blair Poelman ,

Just hoping that someone might have some suggestions, though it is predominately utilized by the Landlord folks.

Regarding the the lease language, I've studied it pretty well. The pet deposit specifically states that I should get half of it back if the condition of the apartment warrants it. Our place was spotless, the manager even asked if was had already had the carpets cleaned... never needed it though. 

I'm an honest, fair, law abiding person and expect others to be the same. I just figure that if this is happening to me, they could very well be doing it to others regularly, and thus, it shouldn't slide.

Thanks!

@Johnathon Griggs

 I agree with you. Being a landlord myself, when I have been in rental situations I know what's ok and what's not. I am in the same situation right now. I rented in Los Angeles for a bit and the "landlord" ...cute he calls himself that... returned a very small, unfair portion of my deposit 80 days late. I requested a review of the charges he put on the deposit return, he denied. I told him to think about the charges he claimed were appropriate and respond within 72 hours or I would be filing a small claims action against him, he denied. I requested he consider mediation, he denied. I filed the paperwork and he will be served soon. The funny thing is I was very fair and told him bluntly that I knew the charges were ******** but if he showed some reason and even met me halfway we could both walk away (with me knowing he's a scumbag) without wasting time on going to court. I would have taken even a hundred bucks just on principle. It's not about the money. I have no doubt the judge will award me the full deposit based on the California law of time allotted to do this alone. I don't put up with bs like this. Just like with you... my landlord was cool in person (even inviting my boyfriend and I over for games and fights etc.) but in the end he hid behind a piece of paper like a girl just for a measly few hundred bucks. Sad.

I would suggest texting him/her your intentions for record and finding out the laws in your state and if you have the time and stubborn personality like I do, fight it.      

File a small claims lawsuit since they did not comply with the deadline. Because of that failure on their part, you might get double or triple your deposit as the penalty. 

This happened to me twice when I was renter. The first managment company it happened with was a complete dirtbag company providing student housing, and it became obvious that the behaviour was part of their business plan. The second time it had to do with a company with good intentions that had just taken over the account from the owner, who thought she could just keep some of our money for various illegitimate reasons. 
In both cases, sending a letter saying that if it wasn't resolved in X amout of time, legal action would be taken, solved the problem.

It probalby didn't hurt that I wrote a CC on the bottom letter to a family member that is an attorney.

Many states/cities have special regulations stipulating that landlords improperly withholding deposits are libable for multiple times the money withheld. 

Probably best to try sending a letter first. Small claims will cost you a couple hundred bucks and unless you've played the small claims court game before you'll spend several hours of your time on paperwork and case prep.

I know it doesn't sound fair, and it may or may not be- but again, in Utah what counts, and what a judge will look at, is what is in writing, signed, and agreed.  He's likely not going to be concerned with the dirtbag level of the manager. 

If your lease says you get half your pet deposit back then you should get it back.  If it says you get an itemized list of deductions, then that's what you should receive.  If it does not clearly state what you are to receive, and when you are to receive (whatever money or info) you may not have a great position to fight from.

My experience with small claims has been if you're going to go, be sure your claims are 100% substantiated- black&white. In Utah county (probably everywhere else also) there are a lot of small claims cases filed because of somebody not liking what they agreed upon.  You can't show up saying "this guy is a scumbag and I don't like it" and expect the court to care about your personal feelings because they won't (or at least they shouldn't)  

Thanks for the input, y'all!

For the next week I'll simply continue to email them looking at least for a response, that way I at least have the evidence that I've been trying to work with them. They will be well informed of my intention to give them very poor Yelp and Google reviews if there is no communication. :)

I've never filed small claims yet, however this gives me cause to look into it at least. I've got black and white substantiated evidence to indicate that they've not met the requirements of the law or their lease. Oh what fun!

Originally posted by @Johnathon Griggs :

What to do?

My wife and I recently purchased a second house and moved out of a temporary apartment. We have one question about the deposit returned from Landlord.

The particulars first:

1. We did not receive our deposit disposition/ ledger statement and refund until 6 wks after the move out date (Utah law states that we should have had it within 30 days.)

2. The disposition is much different than what the resident manager verbally stated the charges would be (by double) after we completed our move-out walk-through inspection.

3. The pet deposit we're owed was not even mentioned in the disposition. 

So, the question, how do we get our money from them now?

I have both called and emailed and so far have received no response from them. I'm unsure whether I can submit the "TENANT'S NOTICE TO PROVIDE DEPOSIT DISPOSITION" (per Utah Code 57-17-3, etc.) since I received the partial refund before I submitted the formal "DO IT NOW!" paperwork to them.

Any suggestions?

 Hi Johnathon,

I just studied this law.  This is my opinion:

The law says that you are entitled to your full security deposit plus $100, and your court fees if you have to take him to court and you win.  

In order to sue, you have to submit the form you're talking about.  Regardless of whether or not they sent you the partial refund.  This is the most recent form, according to the Utah legislature site.

http://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title57/Chapter17/57-17-S...

It's horribly written, in my opinion.  But, you'll see that included in the badly written rhetoric, it does include paying you your full amount of your deposit plus $100 according to the code within 5 days.

So, what I would do is include the form above, and I'd include another letter to make yourself clear.  Something like this:

Dear Nice Try:

Please find enclosed the form required by Utah law under Utah Code Title 57 Chapter 17 Section 5, found in Subsection 15 - 17 - 3 (3), in which I am requesting the return of all security deposit monies withheld by you in the amount of $_______________, plus a $100 penalty as allowed by law, for your failure to return my deposit and/or an accounting of deductions within the time allowed.

Please know that if I do not receive the full $________________ due to me, within 5 days, on or before ________________(5 day deadline), I will file a claim in small claims court and also request my court fees be paid by you.

I am enclosing a copy of the relevant law so that you will see that the law is clear that you owe me this money, and that going to court will only result in additional costs to you.

Sincerely,

You

Your Address

And then print out a copy of this law and enclose it.

http://le.utah.gov/xcode/Title57/Chapter17/57-17-S...

At any rate, that's what I'd do.

Good luck.

I had posted a website that claims to collect security deposits for tenants, but since I don't know anything about them personally, I chose to delete it.  Sorry about that.

Thank you, @Sue K. !

I will be submitting the form tomorrow and will include a note just as you suggest (I might even just copy/paste your suggestion... if you don't mind. :)

Just as a note to those who have participated in this conversation so far, my wife and I have a SFR that we own and have rented out for several years. As we look to get more involved in REI, this sort of thing just makes me ever more aware of what it's like to be on the other side of the fence and the need to treat others as equitably and responsibly as possible with good, open communication!

Originally posted by @Johnathon Griggs :

Thank you, @Sue Kelly!

I will be submitting the form tomorrow and will include a note just as you suggest (I might even just copy/paste your suggestion... if you don't mind. :)

 Not at all.  Writing letters is one of the few skills I have :-)

Originally posted by @Johnathon Griggs :

Just as a note to those who have participated in this conversation so far, my wife and I have a SFR that we own and have rented out for several years. As we look to get more involved in REI, this sort of thing just makes me ever more aware of what it's like to be on the other side of the fence and the need to treat others as equitably and responsibly as possible with good, open communication!

 If landlords just follow the law, they won't get in legal trouble.  I'm always surprised at how many don't learn the laws.  If you get a savvy tenant, or even a tenant just willing to throw themselves on the mercy of the small claims court judge, it can be expensive.  You can not only lose the entire deposit, regardless of any justified deductions or rent that was due, but you can end up having to pay them twice or three times the deposit plus court costs, depending on the jurisdiction.

Originally posted by @Sue K. :
Originally posted by @Johnathon Griggs:

...

 If landlords just follow the law, they won't get in legal trouble.  I'm always surprised at how many don't learn the laws.  If you get a savvy tenant, or even a tenant just willing to throw themselves on the mercy of the small claims court judge, it can be expensive.  You can not only lose the entire deposit, regardless of any justified deductions or rent that was due, but you can end up having to pay them twice or three times the deposit plus court costs, depending on the jurisdiction.

The tenant doesn't even have to be savvy - they can just go to free legal aid for help ...

If you are still emailing your communication, it is probably better to switch to writing and mailing. I beleive this is still considered more official. Always contain dates, and keep copies for yourself.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

Lock We hate spam just as much as you