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rated:
Hi,
Long time lurker but not many posts. I reach out to the FWF community for advice.

Ex-landlord reached out today asking for minor damages for an apartment we had vacated at the end of August.

1. The minor damages already existed when we moved in. We lived in that apartment for 6 years. One of them was not even there when we moved out. We only verbally communicated. No pics. Our fault.

2. The landlord has already returned our deposit. He now claims that he never looked at the apartment and that he gave us our money back based on our word (he lives in another state). Now he is coming back to ask us to give him some money. It has  been almost 3 months.

This has me a little rattled and confused. How long after we move out can the landlord keep coming back at us.

Thanks. 
--------------------------------------------
FInal Update (hopefully):

Thank you all for the help and support.

I sent out a revised version of the email kindly drafted by clv2k1. I also took into account Henry's viewpoint about keeping the lines of communication open.
After the email, the landlord still wanted to talk and I said OK. During the talk, he quickly changed his tune from "asking us money for the damages" to asking us to do the "honorable" thing. In any case, the conversation then came down to us updating him on the condition of the apartment when we left and he said he will not contact us again. Key points were:

1. The bookcase was from his girlfriend's graduate days, and so had a reason for falling apart.
2. The new tenant asked him to repaint the house and update it. He refused. The tenant then contacted the health department for mold, rodent etc and made the life of landlord hell. The apartment was finally cleared by the authorities (it was NOT a shithole and was OK by Boston standards).
3. We reminded him that we had discussed about preexisting damage and had agreed to not spend his money to fix it since it was OK. He seemed to have agreed with our viewpoint.

We did think that for the asking money, the apartment should have been repainted, but the landlord knew he could get away without it. Inspite of his troubles, I think he did get away without updating the apartment.

Thank you all once again. If there is any update, will let you know.

Hopefully this is the last we have heard of him.

Member Summary
Most Recent Posts
FInal Update (hopefully):

Thank you all for the help and support.

I sent out a revised version of the email kindly drafted... (more)

apennymore (Dec. 03, 2016 @ 7:59p) |

lol. landlord wants to try to get $$ out of tenant AFTER new tenant moves in and probably signs his/her own disclosure? ... (more)

imbatman (Dec. 05, 2016 @ 7:39a) |

This landlord really needs to join FWF for some tough love.

TravelerMSY (Dec. 05, 2016 @ 6:33p) |

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rated:
He has no case here. Ignore him.

rated:
He pretty much gave up his claim to damage when he returned your deposit. Tell him to pound sand.

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landlord is a noob.

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Landlord/tenant laws vary a lot in different cities, but I can't imagine there are any where he can claim damages after so much time. Especially since you think he's wrong, I'd just tell him that.

Future landlords may try to contact him for a reference when you apply to rent, but I don't think that would be worth paying for something you didn't do and he was pretty lazy in handling.

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Thanks guys for the reply. Unless someone thinks there is any merit to his case, I am going to talk to him and tell him to pound sand.

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As an afterthought, can he claim he took pictures right after we moved out but did not contact me? So he has proof of the damage and that we caused it. I am looking to settle this amicably and have no intentions to fight, but I do not have extra money to just hand over.
I guess I can argue, why did you return me the money?

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daw4888 said:   Tell him to pound sand.
 

  
Politely, though. And briefly, and in writing.

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apennymore said:   As an afterthought, can he claim he took pictures right after we moved out but did not contact me? So he has proof of the damage and that we caused it. I am looking to settle this amicably and have no intentions to fight, but I do not have extra money to just hand over.
I guess I can argue, why did you return me the money?

  
Why amicably?  He is asking you to give him money which you do not owe! (ETA: I'm not suggesting being belligerent.  But he is the one causing the problem here.)

What state are you in?  In California, he absolutely would not have a case against you.  He would be required to provide a statement of damages within 21 days of you vacating the property.  I'm guessing many other states have similar laws.  As others have already stated, write him a very brief letter: "I did not cause that damage."

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Here is a landlord who *hopes* he can scare you into handing over money to offset the cost of repairs. He has a certain period of time by which it is his duty and obligation to inspect the property and hand back the security deposit. I would imagine that time is well past for ANY state. He's just hoping you'll be intimidated enough to turn the money back to him when it was his OBLIGATION and RESPONSIBILITY to do his DUE DILIGENCE ASAP after you moved out. He's out of state? Well that's why they have rental management companies. IMHO

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Thanks again guys. Thanks for pointing out the issue of time limit here. I am in Massachusetts. I do not know what the time limit in MA is. Does anyone here know?
I have sent an email saying I am ready to talk. I will politely explain the issue to him. I have never had any issue ever and I only hope he does not cause any trouble to me.

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I am usually very careful about taking pictures and documenting. Unfortunately, I did not document the damage even over email. Lesson for the future for me.
I live in Brookline, MA. I treated his home really well. Always paid on time. Would fix things for him myself rather than cause trouble and never even bothered him.

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I am a landlord and I usually handover the security deposit the same day they give me keys. This policy of mine has screwed me a few times. Once a window was broken and I didn't see it and I ended up eating the cost.

If I wait a few days, there is this argument that it might have happened later. What is the best way to do this anyways? Inspect everything very carefully before handing out the security deposit?

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Found this upon deeper digging courtsey MA govt (http://www.mass.gov/ocabr/docs/tenantsrights.pdf):
The landlord cannot keep any portion of your
security deposit for any reason, including making
deductions for damages, or counterclaim for any
damage to the premises in a court action by you to
recover a security deposit if the landlord . . .
◗ Uses a lease which contains provisions conflicting with the
Security Deposit Law and attempts to enforce these provisions
or attempts to get you to sign a waiver of rights; or
◗ Fails to deposit the security deposit into a separate, interestbearing
account in a Massachusetts bank; or
◗ Fails to transfer the security deposit or last month’s rent to the
new landlord after the sale of the rental property; or
◗ Makes deductions for damages and fails to furnish you with
an itemized list of damages within 30 days after termination
of tenancy.
You may be entitled to three times the amount of
the security deposit or the remaining balance to
which you are entitled after lawful deductions with
interest, plus court costs and reasonable attorney’s
fees if the landlord . . .
◗ Fails to deposit the security deposit into a separate, interestbearing
account in a Massachusetts bank; or

◗ Fails to transfer the security deposit or last month’s rent to the
new landlord after the sale of the rental property; or
◗ Fails to return the security deposit (or balance after lawful
deductions) with interest within 30 days after termination of
tenancy.
If the landlord fails to pay you any interest to
which you are lawfully entitled (including interest
on the security deposit and interest on the last
month’s rent) within 30 days after termination of
the tenancy, you may be entitled to three times the
interest, plus court costs, and reasonable attorney’s
fees

rated:
I just realized my last month rent was held as a security deposit and he never paid interest on it and had I known, I could have asked him for interest.

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apennymore said:   Hi,
1. The minor damages already existed when we moved in. We lived in that apartment for 6 years. One of them was not even there when we moved out. We only verbally communicated. No pics. Our fault.

Just as the former LL likely has no case against you, you probably have no case against the former LL either; however, if the former LL is attempting to collect for damage that pre-existed your move-in date (where you apparently even repaired some of it while you lived there), turn the tables on the former LL by requesting a partial refund of rent for those 6 years (let's say $100/mo) for having had to live in a unit w/ such damage which never got repaired!
$100/month x 12 months/year x 6 years = $7,200.

rated:
apennymore said:   Ex-landlord reached out today asking for minor damages for an apartment we had vacated at the end of August.
1. The minor damages already existed when we moved in. We lived in that apartment for 6 years. One of them was not even there when we moved out. We only verbally communicated. No pics. Our fault.
 

  This is the key. (Minor) damages that the LL is claimimg was pre-existing. Was this documented somewhere in the move-in documents?
In any case, just politely and firmly tell the LL that the damage was pre-existing and you are not responsible for that.

Out of curiosity, what was the nature of the damage. Given the length of the tenancy (6 years), it better be something big for LL to bother you now.
 

rated:
I know. Thanks. I just realized how much I let go of and did not fight for. I guess I did not know my own rights.
Lot more to learn for me. 
Looks like the time to talk was before the end of 30 days post ending of tenancy.

rated:
Damages were:
1. There were small edge cracks at the corner of 3 windows. We asked him about it because we have a small kid and we were worried about the safety and cracks getting bigger etc. He did not do anything. We taped over it so that wind does not get in and got on with life.

Now he says he had to change all of it. One of these damages he says did exist.

2. The shower door sliding glass was broken. This was not broken when we moved out. No idea about this.

In addition, they left a bookcase in the apartment for us to use. The wood rotted away and our young kid was pulling the shelf on himself. We threw it away and bought a new one. He wants the bookcase back.

In 6 years we paid him about $150,000. This is what he comes after us for!!

rated:
We never documented during move in or move out the damages or lack of damages. That is my fault and this is a lesson for the future.

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As a further clarification, the edge cracks are 2-3 inches long snaking in from the edge.

rated:
king0fSpades said:   I am a landlord and I usually handover the security deposit the same day they give me keys. This policy of mine has screwed me a few times. Once a window was broken and I didn't see it and I ended up eating the cost.

If I wait a few days, there is this argument that it might have happened later. What is the best way to do this anyways? Inspect everything very carefully before handing out the security deposit?

  
Best is to meet with the tenant and bring the move-in checklist that you both signed when you first gave them the keys. That documented any existing problems (often with notes to follow up with repair). You take general pics as you go plus close photos of any identified issues and invite tenant to do the same. Now you're making the same tour and taking the same kind of notes. It's a small hassle - it really needs to be done after the tenant is completely moved out. But it leaves little room for dispute on either side, and I think that's all any smart & honest landlord can hope for. We've had good experience with tenants' behavior and care for the place, I think this is well worth the effort. It makes it pretty clear we're going to try to treat them fairly but are not noobs or lazy like OP's landlord.

rated:
You're spending way too much time on this. Tell him even if his claims are legitimate, he had his 30 days to collect anything.

rated:
Thanks. I know it is at this point a waste of my time. Time to move on. Thanks guys for all the support and help.

rated:
apennymore said:   I have sent an email saying I am ready to talk. I will politely explain the issue to him. I have never had any issue ever and I only hope he does not cause any trouble to me.
  If I knew you were a male, I'd say grow a pair. Otherwise, grow a spine. It's sweet and all that you want to be polite, but all the landlord wants to do is take your money.

rated:
.

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apennymore said:   As an afterthought, can he claim he took pictures right after we moved out but did not contact me? So he has proof of the damage and that we caused it.You answered your own question ... in your OP.

apennymore said:   2. The landlord has already returned our deposit. He now claims that he never looked at the apartment and that he gave us our money back based on our word (he lives in another state). Now he is coming back to ask us to give him some money. It has  been almost 3 months.

rated:
Agreed. Need to grow a pair ..lol!!
But kidding aside, thanks a ton for all the help and encouragement.

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I'd just ignore it. He's unlikely to sue you for it if he lives out of state and the damages are a small amount.

rated:

Penny (47.25kB)
Disclaimer
apennymore said:   Agreed. Need to grow a pair ..lol!!
But kidding aside, thanks a ton for all the help and encouragement.

  Now we need a pic. That is the only well known Penny and we want to see what "more" looks like.

rated:
I agree with everyone else. THe landlord is a noob and you should politely decline his request to send him money for no good reason.

But ...
Returning the deposit doesn't necessarily mean he abandons any legal right to claim damages.
In Oregon our law says : "This section does not preclude the landlord or tenant from recovering other damages under this chapter." Now IANAL but I'm reading that to mean that the security deposit law does not stop your claim for other damages.
I doubt there are laws that say the landlord forfeits any claim to damages after the deposit is returned.

Having said that, he will probably get laughed out of court if he tried to sue you here.

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apennymore said:   Damages were:
1. There were small edge cracks at the corner of 3 windows. We asked him about it because we have a small kid and we were worried about the safety and cracks getting bigger etc. He did not do anything. We taped over it so that wind does not get in and got on with life.

Now he says he had to change all of it. One of these damages he says did exist.

2. The shower door sliding glass was broken. This was not broken when we moved out. No idea about this.

In addition, they left a bookcase in the apartment for us to use. The wood rotted away and our young kid was pulling the shelf on himself. We threw it away and bought a new one. He wants the bookcase back.

In 6 years we paid him about $150,000. This is what he comes after us for!!

  
Edge cracks on the window are caused by normal wear and tear, is not tenant responsibility. Tenants are only supposed to be held responsible for damages that they caused (e.g. you burned a hole in the floor, gouged out the walls, left the place a mess, ran a meth lab and now he has to tear down things and rebuild to get rid of the poison, you'd be responsible). Cracks on a window are not something a tenant would have caused; that's caused by weather and/or foundation problems.

I would not talk to him over the phone. Put everything down in writing. He is trying to take you for a sucker; you shouldn't be nice to people who are obviously not acting in good faith. 

 

rated:
This is a little murky as I haven't actually done this yet. I'm a landlord in MA. Technically he can just say you never paid and ding your credit. Then it'd be up to you to pursue. I think statue of limitations is either one, three or 6 years depending on the type of case. He can always go to small claims to sue you for the damages. The law you quoted is in reference to the security deposit. Because he returned it, you don't have a case against him. He just has to give you the actual interest owned on the last month, it doesn't have to be a separate account like the security deposit. Your next step is to wait for him to sue you in small claims court or ding your credit. It's pretty hard to ding someone's credit as a landlord, I'll have to look up how to actually do that. I usually take pictures before and after someone moves out so I'd have proof if I were to end up in court. I also typically have a statement of condition when they move in, but that's typically just for when you want to withhold the security deposit. You are now in the state where you're going to see who's going to blink first. Also when you talk to him on the phone, you could always negotiate the total and make your case for what was or wasn't damaged when you moved in.

rated:
It does not preclude landlord from claiming damages, but given that the landlord waited this long would be harder for him to prove.

1) "I couldn't reach tenant"... Okay, how did you get ahold of tenant 3 months later?
2) "I didn't check damages for 3 months".. Okay that's nice, you should have checked before and detailed as much.
3) Before/after pictures?
4) Returned deposit without any issue whatsoever?
5) Landlord would have to sue you either in the court nearest to the property or wherever you currently live, not where Landlord lives.

And most importantly
6) As everybody else said, you have nothing to worry about.

rated:
atikovi said:   
apennymore said:   I have sent an email saying I am ready to talk. I will politely explain the issue to him. I have never had any issue ever and I only hope he does not cause any trouble to me.
  If I knew you were a male, I'd say grow a pair. Otherwise, grow a spine. It's sweet and all that you want to be polite, but all the landlord wants to do is take your money.

  
The OP is married, it is too late to grow a pair, it will automatically be sheared by a blade known as "The Wife!" 

rated:
The landlord can simply give this to a collection agency. In my cases, my collection agency requires paperwork like the lease agreement and some documentation on damages.
Landlord does not have to go to the court.

I am not siding with anyone, just stating the possibility. My collection agency calls my tenants a couple of times and I get a direct deposit/check right away. Of course for legit damages.

rated:
apennymore said:   
In addition, they left a bookcase in the apartment for us to use. The wood rotted away and our young kid was pulling the shelf on himself. We threw it away and bought a new one. He wants the bookcase back.

 

  
Due to the time that has lapsed, I'd say landlord doesn't have a case, however ...

Did you notify the landlord at the time that the bookcase had worn out?  If so, did the landlord offer to repair/replace, or tell you to throw it away?  My guess is you took it upon yourself to throw out the old one (as junk) and buy one (which you took with you when you moved).

That said, next time notify the landlord before throwing it away and see what they want to do.  From their point of view, the LL left a perfectly fine bookcase in the unit, and you stole it when you left.  Would you have done the same for a refrigerator?

 

rated:
king0fSpades said:   The landlord can simply give this to a collection agency. In my cases, my collection agency requires paperwork like the lease agreement and some documentation on damages.
Landlord does not have to go to the court.

I am not siding with anyone, just stating the possibility. My collection agency calls my tenants a couple of times and I get a direct deposit/check right away. Of course for legit damages.

  
True, unless OP disputes it with the collection agency and requires validation, followed up by telling collection agency to go to court if it's a valid debt.

The book case is a different issue. Something in writing should have been required by OP prior to throwing it out.

rated:
Married here. So balls are a non-issue.
I think that the consensus here is that landlord can create nuisance but no trouble. I guess I am at fault for throwing his furniture away when it became junk, but at that time I did not think it was that big of a deal. It must be what, a 100-150$ (the stupid bookcase is not even in the lease, there is no documentation of it anywhere). Of course, it is coming back to haunt me now.
I will politely decline the request and see where it goes. I might agree to send him $50-$100 for the use of his bookcase if he persists on that so that I can let this go.

Skipping 46 Messages...
rated:
This landlord really needs to join FWF for some tough love.

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