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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
We are in Rhode Island. 
We have a problem with our tenant started May 2018, we just bought the house and the previous owner sent her a notice to vacate by July 20th 2018. However, we found out that the vacate letter would not hold up the court so we, as new owner, sent her a new notice on July 30th to ask her to vacate the premise by August 31st. 

She told us that she will let us know that she will move out only when she found a place. (She knows she had to leave July 20th but didn't) We had no other choice but to find a place to stay temporarily for the month of Sept and October 2018. We paid the deposit for the new place on July 26th because our lease ends August 31st.

On August 4th, she told us to keep her deposit and she will move out Sept 2nd. (and she HAS to leave August 31st) We let her know that we would not want to use deposit for the rent by text/ email and in person. What do we do? 

We decided to send a demand letter on 16th but we want to confirm if we are doing this right and will hire a lawyer if necessary. She could say she will move out Sept 2nd but it does not mean she definitely will and we have no power to kick her out other than the eviction.
Thank you

Posts: 503
Reply with quote  #2 
I would hire a lawyer. I'm still not clear on all the details, all of which are relevant. 

Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #3 
You can't evict her until after August 31st when she isn't out. by the time you get all your stuff done September 2nd will be past. keep her deposit and don't waste any extra money on court cost. May not be ideal but it's cheaper on your part. Other than being mad at the principle of everything it is not worth the aggravation. This is a case of pick your battles.

Posts: 3,809
Reply with quote  #4 
Yeps, just keeping the deposit for the last month of rent is not a good idea.  If you do this, you have no deposit left to cover any damages done to the rental.  I have seen landlords do this only to get their homes back with thousands of dollars of damages and nothing to cover any of the repairs.  This is bad policy.  The deposit is there to cover their damages - monetary for what they owe, and property for the repairs they create.  You can get the home back and find out they destroyed carpets, walls, stole appliances, or left you hundreds of dollars of utility bills that you, as owner, are responsible for.  The best practice is to always say NO to using the deposit for the last months rent.  Just saving the court costs may not be cheaper in the long run.  And if you still have the deposit, you can always take them out of it.

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #5 

We had the court hearing today 6th. She gave the keys on 4th. She told us she would be out by 2nd September 2018, but she didn't and text us saying I will let you know when I"m out. So we waited, and on 3rd September at 9.30pm she texted us wanting to give us the key at that time. It was too late, we had plans that night (if she texted us earlier we could have planned it). So she gave us the keys on 4th. We went inside and did an initial inspection.

1. We found many nail holes and
2. Drawings on the wall.
3. Some outlet covers are also gone.
4. She took the blinds / light bulbs in basement. (the previous owner later clarified he did not provide blinds and for some reason tenants always take away the lightbulbs in the basement)
5. Part of the microwave is broken. 

On 4th, when we asked her about the drawings in the wall, she insisted that the house came like that when she moved in and it wasn't her or her kids' fault for drawing on the wall. Then she proceed to "threaten" us and have someone to take care of us.
But in the court later (not in it) but in front of the lawyer she said it's washable crayon. So lawyer asked, "why didn't you clean it then? "

So she started telling me that it was not her fault, and it came like that when she rented the house. She said the house was very dirty when she moved in. I asked her for proof (like the move-in list) she said I didn't rent to you, I am not going to show you proof. 
The basement have 3 storage units for 3 floors. The previous owner let them keep the tenant stuff in there. So there are some stuff in the basement that was in her "storage unit", that she refuses to take. 

My questions is, 

1. can I charge her for the cleaners to clean the wall and if it can't be taken out, can i charge her for the re-painting the walls? 

2. should i just throw out her stuff in the basement? we are not sure if it's hers, she dfeinitely could probably say its' not hers. 

3. on the day she moved, she put a lot of trash out which the trash pickup will not do. is she responsible to pay for the trash pickup if we were to hire someone to do it? 

4. Are the holes in the wall not counted? There were alot of holes, and we had to definitely plaster them and make the unit look presentable to be rented out. No one wants many "big" holes in the wall.... The lawyer said it was wear and tear, but they are so many of them.. 

5. My job right now is to write an itemize list of what I should be charging her, and I am also wondering if I can do late fees as well? 

6. I cannot prove that she didn't create any damages especially the microwave oven (kinda broken on the edge) can I charge her for fixing it?  she didn't have proof that she didn't cause that damage (I don't think she has the move in list - i always have move in list when i move in)

7. Lastly, about a month ago, we were having sewage backup, and when we call the guy to come fix it, we got ALOT of baby wipes. She was the only one with 2 toddlers (we are a 3 unit home), another unit is a man with two teenage nephews and another family is a couple with 2 teenage kids. Can we charge her for that? There were at least 10lbs in there and we took a picture of the baby wipes fished out of the sewage. 

Posts: 503
Reply with quote  #6 
1. Yes and yes. That's not normal wear and tear, so you can charge a reasonable amount to correct the problem. This applies whether you pay someone or do it yourself (you can still charge just as much if it you do it yourself). 

2. Probably. Some states and localities will require you to hold it for them to pick up for a certain amount of time though.

3. Yes. Let the trash guys actually leave it though, then charge what it would cost to have a junk removal place do it.

4. If the lawyer said it was wear and tear and they aren't prohibited in the lease, you will have a hard time defending that. 

5. Any late fees specified in the lease are applicable.

6. Is it possibly normal wear and tear? Don't fix a microwave, brand new ones are $50, just get a new one. 

7. I would. It is obvious it was her and I don't think a judge would give you a hard time about it unless she claims one of the other tenants had visitors with diaper-aged kids or something. 


Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #7 

Thank you for your replies

based on what you"ve mentioned, she owes us $2921.67 with the painting on the wall (it"s not even a full apartment painting it is just the rooms that have crayon drawings on it)- the painting is $1050 as the biggest expense. I will be willling to forgo the microwave, the blinds, the light bulb, but i really can"t beleive she took the wall outlets too ($10/piece) so I will be charging her that.

I have sent this list to my lawyer, to see what he says about what i want to charge her. I am also asking if the walls can be reimbursed, cause really small holes and few I dont care, but there are so many that I think it hits 3 digits (hundreds)

1. Cleaning services for the wall cleaning (the cheapest I found that actually wipe down the wall thoroughly) - $185
2. Painting for rooms if the cleaners cannot clean it well - 3 rooms - living rooms and 2 bedroom - $1050
3. Late fees - $95
4. Many nail holes in the apartment, too many, are they really wear and tear? I would like to charge for plastering and sanding - $135
5. Outlet walls x3 - $30
6. Sewage back up due to baby wipes - $300 (She's the only tenant with 2 toddlers)
7. We will wait 10 more days after 23rd for her to come pick up her stuff in basemet before we throw it out. We won"t charge her for that. 
8. there were alot of trash thrown out the day of her move out, if the trash pickup would not pick it up, we will charge her for hiring people to move it ourselves. (pick up by next week) - $50
9. August 2018 rent -$950
10. 4 Days in September 2018 - $126.67
Total $2921.67 with painting / $1871.67 without the wall painting

all in all i am glad i filed for the eviction. she is currently owing us $1076 because of the 4  days and august rent. it is now in her record. 

Posts: 3,809
Reply with quote  #8 
The cleaning charges are fine.  But I always prorate painting charges to make judges happy.  How old is the paint?  I've had judges say the paint was already "x" years old so you would have needed to repaint it anyways.  Then they toss out painting charges.  So I moved to prorating it.  

Are the late fees specified in the lease?

Nail holes are probably wear & tear.  If your attorney said so, I wouldn't charge for them.  But mark it on the deposit statement as "No charge-wear & tear".  Looks good to a judge if they contest it in court.

Did they really take the outlets?  Or were they empty junction boxes that just had a blank cover on them?

You may have a problem with the baby wipes charge.  Although she was the only tenant with toddlers, you can't definitively prove they came from her unit.  It is multi-family.  Another family may babysit a small child (maybe a relative's, a grandchild, or a toddler that only comes for visitation on weekends).  This is one of those gray areas.  Hard to prove it was her.

What stuff in the basement?  Never saw it.  Maybe one of the other tenants took it?

Absolutely charge for any left items or trash.

Yes to prorated rent if it was due on the 1st.

Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #9 
OH Landlord

Thanks for the reply. I have prorated the painting charges, it is $1500 for painting and $400 for the paint materials. I have prorated to 3 rooms  + 1 bathroom ( paint only) 

Yes there are late fees but my lawyer suggested nt to put it in. So we didnt. We didn't add the nail holes as well which is stupid because she practically destroyed the walls with her hundreds of nails. 
I am not sure about the outlet but I didn't charge her for it since it is 0.60 each to buy them. 
Lawyer says it's ok with baby wipes charge. We know the rest of the family, we stay near by and we come and go, and no other unit other than hers has toddlers. Once we asked her to leave in May 2018 the sewage back started August 2018. 

We wont be charging anything in the basement and we will wait 10 days before disposing them. We confirmed with other tenants that they dont own the stuff there. 
What do you mean never saw it???? Were you there? 

She has a judgement against her for the month rent and the 4 days that she gave me keys for but the total she owes us now is around $1985. 

Posts: 3,809
Reply with quote  #10 
I didn't mean I never saw it.  Think about it a minute.  Maybe no one saw it because it was never there.
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