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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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P.S. No need to worry about where their bank is or collecting. Landlords are the easiest people to collect from in the world. They own property and have tenants. You can file for a rent execution if they don't pay.

The tenants will be notified that they have to pay their rent to the court officer, who will then send you a check less his 10% fee.

Posted on: 2013/10/9 3:11
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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It's going to depend on a combination of two things; your lease and the law. No one here can read your lease and ask you all the right questions based upon what little you have written.

Security deposit cases are often done on a contingency basis and you may have a counterclaim for the rent.

You should really make an appointment for a consultation with a good L/T lawyer to find out exactly where you stand and help you file properly so you don't screw yourself.

Posted on: 2013/10/9 3:07
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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Let me get this straight. You are disputing what you paid for rent eight months ago, and now that the lease is up, you've moved out, but left some of your furniture in the landlord's apartment. That's a problem, IMO. Did you ask your landlord if that would be okay?

Posted on: 2013/9/27 19:49
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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If the other party doesn't show up and doesn't alert the court, you will get a default judgment which you have to collect.



If you get a default judgement, or a judgement in your favor, make sure you know where the landlord has their bank account(s). Otherwise you will never collect the judgement unless the landlord volunteers this information, which from the sounds of it, they won't do. A lot of small claims judgements never get collected because the court relies on the losing party to just cut a check, or the plaintiff knowing where the losing party does their banking and informing the bank of the judgement.

Posted on: 2013/9/27 16:16
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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Some (not so smart) landlords bank on the fact that busy professionals will not be able to make it to court to litigate. Many folks are completely taken advantage of by landlords in this area and it's sickening to me.

The OP potentially has a very strong case, but it's important to get court-related evidence in order.

It is only a one-day court process to sue (other than the time to file your paperwork, which is relatively painless). You are asked to first mediate with your landlord (which is your choice) where you meet in a room and try to hammer out an agreement that suits both parties. You do not have to do this, but it is encouraged to lessen the court load. If you cannot agree, you go in front of the judge.

If the other party doesn't show up and doesn't alert the court, you will get a default judgment which you have to collect.

The only item in the court case that can be annoying is if the other party reschedules - which they can do within 24 of the case - but only one time.

The judges, in my experience, are very attentive and fair to tenant's needs. If you have the time, it would be extremely beneficial to go to court ahead of your court date and listen to cases as they're presented and learn what the judge looks for. It's very interesting and a great learning experience to boot. The first time in front of a judge can be intimidating - this is a great way to prepare.


Posted on: 2013/9/27 15:23
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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As a landlord, I would not risk withholding security deposit in all but the most egregious of cases.

The small claims court will side with the tenant unless you have irrefutable evidence of wrongdoing, and you can end up on the hook for 3 times the deposit.

Likewise, you have little to gain and everything to lose by attempting to hold someone to their lease when they want to leave, just be thankful their rent is up-to-date and let them go.

Robin.

Posted on: 2013/9/27 14:43
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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If she lives hours away and you take her to court, and your claims are not frivolous, then that may be enough for her to come to some sort of arrangement with you. I'm not sure how many appearances might be required for such a matter, but anyone who is hours away will likely not be thrilled about having to ruin an entire day over something that might actually have some basis.

Posted on: 2013/9/27 14:31
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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In addition to those things, she had a male contracter living in the first floor unit of our 3 unit building (all female tenants), while he repaired it out of convenience (she brought him up with her from where she lived). He was sleeping on an air matress and had 100% access to our building. She did not ask or even inform us of this arrangement. I plan to include that in my set of bullet points as well.


That really isn't relevant to your case, so I wouldn't include it. This arrangement created no damages to you directly (being uncomfortable with a workman doesn't count).

Remember - stick to the facts and remain business like. Judges hate emotion in their courtrooms.

The fact that she took pictures of your dust is fantastic - this will help your case.

Does she have a current green card for her 3-family? She needs one - and if she doesn't have it - she's in serious violation of multi-family laws.

Posted on: 2013/9/26 15:20
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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Thank you so much for your help! Unfortunately, we did not take picture prior to exiting, nor did the landlord arrange a final walk through (she lives hours away and had a local handyman in charge of repairs or the lack there of). She actually took contrived (brushing dust into a corner) images of our unit as part of her "evidence" that we left the place a mess (we actually put a good deal of money into upgrades and home improvements, which she failed to recognize).

I will certainly follow through with aquiring the current tenant's statement, as well as create an itemized list of damages/cost/etc. In addition to those things, she had a male contracter living in the first floor unit of our 3 unit building (all female tenants), while he repaired it out of convenience (she brought him up with her from where she lived). He was sleeping on an air matress and had 100% access to our building. She did not ask or even inform us of this arrangement. I plan to include that in my set of bullet points as well.

Thank you again for your advice!

Posted on: 2013/9/26 14:15
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Re: Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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Your landlord CANNOT withhold money for standard wear and tear and cleaning, unless you or your tenants left the place looking like a disaster zone when you left.

It's really, really important to take photographs prior to leaving an apartment, and if you can, have the landlord sign a simple statement that a walk-through was completed and they're satisfied with the condition of the apartment.

That said, you can still take this landlord to small claims court and try to sue them for damages. Local judges listen to tenants concerns but you also must bring proof that you communicated with your landlord.

Here's what you do:

1. Send a certified letter to the landlord requesting the withheld security and rent paid during the hurricane. Make the letter bullet points and to-the-point. Do not get emotional (ie; you're a crook, pay me back), be business-like in your request. Include an itemized total (rent during the time the unit was uninhabitable, rent withheld for cleaning, etc). Ask for any response to you to be put in writing.

2. They will likely not respond - that's fine. Either way, you have proof to take to court with you. You can further get a certified statement from the current tenant that the apartment was clean when they moved in and they wanted the furniture to present in court.

3. Did your landlord notify you of where your security deposit was being held (in what local bank?) and how much interest it was accruing? If they didn't, they're in violation of the law. It's something to add to your complaint that makes the landlord look even worse.

4. Because your landlord withheld your security for bogus reasons, the law states that you're able to sue for up to 3x the amount of the security up to the limit in small claims court (I think it's $5,000).

5. In your complaint, you need to carefully word exactly what the landlord did and you need to specifically ask for damages.

Refer to this guide for more guidance:

Tenant's Rights Handbook

In the guide, you need to view the parts about habitability and security deposits. That will help shed light on the Hurricane payments and the clean out fees.

Your landlord sounds like a shyster. I encourage you to take them to court and not let them intimidate you by telling you that you cannot win in court. You can - it just takes careful attention to gathering your evidence and presenting it in court.

Posted on: 2013/9/26 13:32
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Landlord Stole Money: Is it Legal?
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I recently moved out of my prior apartment that was owned by a landlord who ended up withholding money from my security deposit for "cleaning and furniture removal." Nowhere in the lease did it state such fees, in fact, the succeeding tenant requested that we leave said furnature for her. In addition, our apartment was damaged and unliveable (no water or electricity) for 2 months following hurricane Sandy. We were forced to find other accomodations for those months, and repairs were not complete until mid January (and even then, our basement door did't lock/wasn't secure and the windows remained broken). She demanded that we pay November rent, as well as half of December, and January was paid in full. When I addressed her about all of these circumstances, she said, "you're acting like a brat, go ahead and take it to court. You won't win."

Do I, as a tenant, have any rights in this situation? Could I potentially get the money that she stole from my security as well as the money that she demanded in rent for the months that I was forced to live elsewhere back? If anyone has any advice or insight, please reply!

Posted on: 2013/9/26 12:55
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