Landlord‘s name is Linda Wilson. She is neglectful, uncommunicative, and unfit to be a landlord. Do not rent from her.
Right about when I had enough alcohol to calm me down Linda responded to my email last night, approaching midnight, destroying any chances I had of sleeping. It began:
I assumed you decided to forego your deposit. [Yes, she actually typed that.] I know you were working at cleaning but with the heat I thought you had given up. I took pictures which I will attach so you can see what all still needed to be done. I hired someone to help. She worked for over 15 hours at $20 an hour. I paid her $300. I will have a copy of the receipt made for you if you like.”
She then sent me a series of photos. The only actual cause against me were boxes left in the basement and some items on the porch, both of which I verbally cleared with her in the preceding weeks. Every other picture was of dust. Literally. Dusty windowsills, a cobweb in a corner.
She claimed “it was a big job” and offered me $150.
I could drag her into small claims court, dispute every charge she made against my deposit, and win almost all of them. And boy is that tempting, after all the shit she’s tried to pull. But the thought of dealing with her for that much longer… I couldn’t abide it. I accepted the offer, and I drafted an email laying out my case against her and why she is unfit to be a landlord. She dropped off the check this afternoon, and as soon as I deposited it, I sent the email.
Thank you for dropping off the check. Speaking as your now former tenant, I advise you to brush up on Ohio’s laws regarding the landlord-tenant relationship before leasing out the apartment again. I don’t know if you’ve ever been a landlord before but it’s painfully clear you don’t know what you’re doing. The only reason I haven’t taken you to small claims court is that I sincerely never want to deal with you again. But I could have, and was sorely tempted to. Here’s why.
According to statute in every state, the security deposit cannot be used to cover anything that is considered “normal wear and tear,” including dust. You had a legitimate case with the boxes. The bathroom would have been arguable. None of the other photos indicated any “damage” or excessive dirt that would have been considered neglectful on my part. These would not stand up in small claims court.
Relatedly, you seemed to think the boxes in the driveway were somehow something you could charge me for, on no grounds whatsoever. They were trash, as should have been patently obvious by the fact that they were sitting next to four full trash bins. They go out with those bins on the next trash day. There’s no legal basis to charge a tenant for something because you’re annoyed trash day happens after they turned in the keys.
Most importantly, I could take you to court solely on the basis of your email’s first line: “I assumed you decided to forego your deposit.” Again, I don’t know on what planet you think that’s legal or even reasonable. I gave you my forwarding address when I moved out, therefore within 30 days you had to either 1. return it to me or 2. provide me with an itemized list of why you were not. Those are your only options. You don’t get to decide to keep the deposit and not tell the tenant. That’s both incredibly slimy and ILLEGAL.
FURTHERMORE – and this is important – the only reason I’m forced to settle is because I contacted you yesterday, 7/26, instead of today, 7/27, which prompted you to send me your complaints. I have heard not a single word from you since I handed in my keys 30 days ago. Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. Read that again: Had I waited until Wednesday, the 30th day, you would legally owe me the entire deposit, plus interest, plus the prorated days, simply because you did not contact me. The only reason you get to keep ANY of my deposit is because I contacted you 24 hours too early.
I am kicking myself for that, but I am absolutely furious with you. You have failed to communicate with me at every stage. I thought you would have learned after you called me at the airport to yell at me for not being able to read your mind, but I was apparently mistaken. I wonder if you would have figured it out if you legally owed me the entire deposit because of your own neglect to contact me. You also seem to think you can charge a tenant because you’re annoyed at them, on no legal ground whatsoever. For your sake, I hope you get your act together before your next tenant has grounds to sue you. I am not optimistic. I am telling all my friends not to rent from you.
Her name is Linda Wilson. Do not rent from her.