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summerlover

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #1 
My tenant had a car accident in June, running into the inside garage wall. It caused damage to my garage (studs and sewer line) and also damaged the studs in the adjacent neighbor's garage. The tenant did not call or email me to advise of the accident. But I happened to be in town and asked to stop by to inspect the condo. I was there for 30+ minutes before I asked to look at the garage on my way out, and that is when the tenant came clean about the accident that she said happened two days earlier. 

The tenant's auto insurance company accepted full liability and covered the damage to my garage. It took some time to get three quotes. Finally accepted one bid, the repairs began two months after the accident. The repairs should have been completed in one day (Aug 28), but they had to stop because a permit was required. In the meantime, the tenant moved out of the condo (Sept 3). The permit was obtained and a City Inspector came to review the repairs (Sept 6). The City Inspector did not pass the inspection as the adjacent neighbor had damage. The neighbor had not been willing to file an insurance claim as they illegally converted their garage into a living space.

The tenant returned the keys to the landlord with the repair not yet complete. I asked the tenant to move out as I planned to sell the condo. Long story short, the condo has been vacant for 4.5 weeks and it still is not on the market. I hired a real estate agent, the condo is immaculate, but due to the car accident in June, I have not yet been able to list the condo for sale. I expected the condo would be in escrow by now, and it's not even on the MLS. 


In addition to the garage damage, the condo was a mess. I do not think they ever cleaned the window blinds or cabinets. The refrigerator, toilets, showers, and bathroom sinks were immaculate, but the rest of the place was a disaster. 

The tenant is now asking when she will receive her security deposit back. Because of her car accident, the condo was not returned to me in rent-able or sell-able condition as the garage wall was still open and not fully repaired.

Am I on the hook to refund her security deposit? 
LLinVA

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Posts: 227
Reply with quote  #2 
If insurance is willing to cover the damage, I don't think you can claim the car damage and take it from her deposit. You can deduct for hauling stuff out and cleaning the place (assuming that is allowed based on the lease, did is specify the condition it needs to be left in?). You not selling it isn't her problem, you asked her to move out. What you do after that is out of her control. 

What is actually happening now? What are you waiting on? Is it just that the neighbor needs to file a claim? With who? If her insurance company is liable, it should be fixing their garage too whether or not they contact their own insurance company. 
summerlover

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Posts: 2
Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for the feedback. I was waiting for another check from the insurance company to pay the contractor & for the repairs to be inspected by the City (and to pass inspection). All of that happened yesterday.

From the date they moved out til yesterday, my hands were tied because of the repairs caused by the tenant's car accident. I was not able to list the unit for sale until it passed inspection....so although the tenant did not necessarily cause the delay, the tenant was responsible for the accident, which was the ultimate reason why the unit required the repairs and City inspection. 

The lease states the unit should be returned in the same condition it was in when they moved in, so there will be deductions for cleaning, etc.

The unit was returned to me without the final repairs being complete (interior garage wall was open, exposed beams, no insulation, no firewall); the unit was not in the same condition as when they moved in. For that reason, am I allowed to retain any deposit?

Thanks!


LLinVA

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Posts: 227
Reply with quote  #4 
Definitely retain for cleaning. 

I think you would have a hard time convincing a judge if she challenged it. I can see your argument, but if the unit was habitable, I don't think a judge would say it was her fault. At the end of the day, you chose to wait and sell versus getting in a new tenant. It also sounds like there wasn't much she could do to help the process go faster, it was out of her control as much as it was out of your control. When you asked her to leave, that could be considered you accepting the situation as it was at that time. Since you were aware of the situation and the process was moving as fast as it was going to move, I don't think it's really her fault, at least not from a judge's point of view. 
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