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militarylandlord

Registered:
Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #1 
This might be long so bear with me....I am a 1st time LL as the result of a military move. We own a house in the state of Texas. We had to rent our property because the market for selling at the time was bad. We researched several PM and went with a well known company. We were promised they did regular inspections as well as drive by inspections to monitor the outside maintenance of the home. We had put a lot of money and landscaping  details in the yard front and back and were very worried about it being destroyed. We were assured that they do thorough tenant screening as well as move in video inspection as well as move out inspections.

OK fast forward...the tenants lease ended the 14th of March. The lease ended after 2 years in the house with 2 adults and two children. They were military as well. It was a pain the whole time. They blew one of our two AC unit motors we were billed for replacement. The PM co never even contacted us about the repair even though it was written in the contract to contact us for repairs over 300$ it was 600.00 repair. We have two units an upstairs and seperate one for the downstairs, so the downstairs was still working. After many attempts to contact the PM they finally returned my call to explain that they didn't have to call me. I disagreed because the downstairs was still cooling and operating just fine. Then the last year the tenants were there they started a pattern of  late payments. I was the one who had to chase down the PM to have her contact the tenants usually on the 20th of each month. A notice to quit was sent on 3 different occasions in order to get them to answer phone calls and pay up. The PM contantly defended them and said they just had a lot of stress in their life at the time. It was a regular pattern going on for 5-6 months. He was in a masters program and stressed they had a death in the family, they had family issues.... each time the PM seemed to empathize with the excuse. We had a friend drive by our property and check on it and he took a picture for us of the front lawn and it was over grown with weeds the shrub beds were covered and choked out with overgrown weeds. Told this to the PM and she said she just drove by and it was fine. Also found out from a rescue they were trying to adopt a dog, with out my consent, they didn't adopt because the rescue wouldn't adopt out to them. As the lease end was approaching we said we were not renewing because we were moving back into it. We offered to do a month-month until June. They had kids in school and thought it would be agreeable for them as well as us. They accepted and then less than 24 hours later I get a email from the PM that that is just going to cause too much stress for the family and now they want for me to end the lease early because they can't afford the last month. I flipped out on the PM at that point. She accused me of having it out for the tenants, spying on them by taking pictures and nosing into their business and there was somthing wrong with me because I was going out of my way to find out things to get them with. I contacted the VP of the company and she agreed with the PM. I told her it was my home my investment and I have every right to check on it especially if they aren't doing their job. 

Now the only thing they did right was the pre and post move out inspection video. So here we are, the yard is destroyed the weeds are 2 ft tall in some areas there is dirt exposed in the back yard with erosion on  parts of the yard. We had a beautifully manicured lawn before. The beds are covered in huge weeds. They pulled up the decorative edgers from area around some of the beds. I don't know why but were left in a pile by the fence. The inside of the house is filthy dust thick on all the blinds and window sill,  the cabinets are sticky dirty, the stove top covered. the bathrooms dirty and stained,  the toliets stained, the down stairs one even had a turd left in it. Stains on the wood ledge were it looks like some one put their coffee cup alot, several big brown stains on carpet were it looks like coffee was spilled. Many drop marks. The kitchen tile floor grout has stains in it. They tore wallpaper chuncks off in one bedroom. They painted without consent a room bright purple and had a dish satelite installed and fixed into the masonery of our house with the line sliced into a point that may have messed up our home security system, they also dug up areas of the yard to bury the satelite line. The yard would make you cry if you could see before and after.

The pm says all it needs is dusting and new stove top drip pans and a trim and mow. They said it was a hot summer and bad winter so all yards are in bad shape. The yard was really choked out by the weeds and not just brown. Many dead shrubs grading of a slope washed away by erosion. They say every thing is pretty nuch wear and tear. I don't trust them at all to do what is right. Any problems we try to address becomes confrontational. They say they are sending the itemized list to accounting on the 5th of April we are scheduled to move back in on the 4th and can't get a good idea of how bad until then.

What can we do??? Can we sue the PM company, how do we prove that some of this isn't wear and tear?

Help please any one... I don't know what to do and they are misleading us for whatever reason. This is going to cost us $$$$ to restore everything. I am just sick and losing sleep over this...                 
OHlandlord

Registered:
Posts: 3,814
Reply with quote  #2 
The damages to the yard depend on what the lease stated was their responsibility.  Did it say they had to maintain the yard, keep flower beds weeded, water the lawn in dry weather, keep the yard mowed to under 3" tall, keep all pavers in place, etc?  Or is it silent on yardwork?  You need to be specific about yardwork because tenants rarely maintain the yard the way you would.

Did the lease state that the tenant may not paint, improve, alter, or remodel the premises?  If so, you can charge them a prorated amount to repaint the room back to a neutral color.  For a 2 yr. tenancy, I would charge 1/3 of the painting cost if it was painted just before they moved in.

If the house was given clean to the tenants, they are to return it in the same condition.  Failure to clean is not wear & tear.  It is neglect.  Charge to clean the cabinets and stove, the bathrooms, cleaning the grout and the carpet cleaning.  These are not wear & tear.  They are neglect.  Dust could be considered wear & tear.  Installing a satellite dish ON the house is damage, not wear & tear.  Dishes can be installed on a pole in the yard so they don't cause damage to the masonry.  Charge for the repair to the masonry and the security system if needed.  Insist that the PM deduct for all these damages that are proved by the before and after videos.  You may have to threaten to sue the PM for the damages if he doesn't deduct for them and pay you to make the repairs.

Your PM is taking the tenants' side because he got paid for every month the tenants were in the house.  If you terminated their tenancy, he made nothing.  If you continue to rent, fire this PM.  He isn't looking out for your interests, he's watching his paycheck.
militarylandlord

Registered:
Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you so much for answering...  Yes there are specific lawn provisions.

The lease defines "yard" as lawn shrubs bushes flowers trees rock or other landscaping.
 Then it states to "maintain the yard" and means to perform activities such as mowing, fertilizing, trimming, controling pests and removing debris.  
It then states the tenabt shall water the yard at resonable and appropriate  times including but not limited to twice a week unless restricted by water provider or city ordinance.

Ok so the thing is the PM is telling me there were water restrictions because it was a dry summer, but they still allow a scheduled once a week watering during those times. they have one every summer. It is in San Antonio and we have delt with them and maintained our yard through those as well. So they could have been at least watering once a week. 
The back yard is eroding with exposed dirt due to the being no grass roots to hold it. We had beautiful, thick zosia back there.
Now yesterday the PM said the tenants were told by the neighbor that we changed the grading of our back yard and that is why it eroded. And that they went and purchased dirt and tried to fix it for us and it needs to be resodded. This is BS. So now they are altering the grade which is important to our foundation to have the proper water run off. Why they would claim a neighbor is an authority I don't know. Some of them don't even speak great english.
Can I hold them liable for the condition to be in a reasonable comparable condition when returned to me?
I have another problem...they spliced in to the main control wiring for the security system. I need to have it checked by a technician. It will be $80 for the first 30 minutes and $18 for every 15 min after.  Can I bill this to them? It has to be done to check it now.
Under Deductions it states in the lease the landlord may deduct for resonable charges from the security deposit
 for any damages to the property excluding normal wear and tear, all reasonable costs to repair the property.
for costs tenant is responsible to clean, deoderize, exterminate and maintain the property.  
 for replacing unreturned keys, garage door openers, security devices or other components.
At the end the lease has a special provision paragraph to clean to property management standards and professionally clean carpets with receipt.

How do I state this to the PM that she needs to do her job???I don't want to threaten to sue but honestly it's already crossed my mind. What are my right's?
   
militarylandlord

Registered:
Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #4 
I have another thing to add-ask. Since the PM is dragging her feet, Should I just start getting the estimates and repairs done? The 13th of April will mark the 30th day. I think by Texas law it has to be post marked by that day. That isn't allowing me alot of time to mess around with this. Can I then itemize and deduct the damages from the deposit. Texas doesn't allow for the LL to perform the labor so I will have to contract several individuals to do estimates, repairs and cleaning. Are there any guideline to follow here?
-I need a move out cleaning about $200.00-$250.00
-Grout cleaning for tile floor in kitchen $50.00
-Lawn mowing, weeding and edging, shrubs cut back also weed treatment $140.00 
-repair yard and sodding
-Paint room that was altered need estimate
-repair ripped wallpaper $50.00 have to buy 1 roll 
-Remove satelite and repair masonary and drill holes into house
-have security system checked due to unauthorized satelite and cable splicing. $ 80.00 per 30 min for tech and $18 for evry 15min after
-repairs to security system if necessary
-rekey charge the keys they turned in didn't work
-The PM said they did the professional carpet cleaning but there are two large stains and many drop marks, I need to see the receipt on that one but I think I could still deduct for the two stained areas just don't know how to.

I can't expect them to guide or help us but if I can deduct it from deposit I am saving my self a lot of hassle on top of the hassle I already have.

Any help is appreciated 

militarylandlord

Registered:
Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #5 
I just want to give an update. Thanks so much for the help. With the information you gave me we were able to get the PM working a little bit more. We did involve the VP of the company as well. Now she concedes that these are damages. We had the security system and it checked out OK. The PM had the carpets cleaned a second time at the tenants expense and the bigger stains came out. We got the names of the contracters the PM company uses and arranged the appt with them so we could get it done with some reliability. We had the house cleaned and got estimates on the painting and satelite damage. Then and heres the whopper....the yard was worse than even expected. We had two of the contracters come out to do the yard estimate. They agreed this was total neglect and the whole thing is a total loss. The recommended full resod to the front and back. It is really bad, alot is just dirt with dead grass laying on top of it, like hay. Eroded dirt and little ravines from the rain. Well the estimate is for 3300.00 and that is not including the dead shrubs but we are going to let that go, because the grass is more important to fight for now. The total charge to them after everything is  about $4500.00. We have $1620.00 in deposits so the rest is sent to them like a bill to be paid in 10 days or it goes to collection.  The former tenant is in the Army and is an officer with at least another 3 year commitment. 
I don't know how this works or if I'll ever see my money. The PM says all he can do is take us to small claims if he disagrees. Otherwise we have all of the documentation and he doesn't have much of a leg to stand on and has to pay it. I am not sure if I trust what she says. What should I expect? Has any one had this happen?  
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