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Apartment complex is trying to screw me...should I pay?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by spikechiquet, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    When I moved for a new job and we were still trying to sell the house, we moved into a "just get into town" apartment complex for a year.
    It was fine, we had no problems...until this past March.
    Upstairs neighbor's dishwasher leaked into our ceiling. I emailed the complex and then called after no response 4 days later. A repairman came in and popped a few water bubbles, emptied the light fixture and fixed the dishwasher upstairs.
    He said they would come back after the ceiling dried to fix it.
    FOUR MONTHS LATER...we moved out...still no fix to the ceiling.
    We clean the place up and move out.
    At the start of August, we got a notice from them saying we owed $980!
    They stated we didn't properly clean the tub, stove, broke the crisper in the fridge, they replaced the carpet in the living room and they said we "cut into" the linoleum in the dining room.
    No mention of the ceiling.
    The crisper, yeah, I cracked it. I forgot to report it when it happened. That was on me.
    The stove and and tub were scrubbed clean...but it's an apartment from the 70s...who knows how old either one is...there is going to be slight wear.
    The carpet, well, it was garbage to begin with...but when we moved in, we said nothing because, well, it was an old place. Figured this was just known and no need to point it out.
    The linoleum was a little rough looking as well from the start and the piece they pointed out I actually had a pic of the floor to prove it looked like that when we moved in.

    OK, so I fight the charges and call them. I make a point of the ceiling that never got fixed.
    They say they will look into it.
    I don't hear from them again until late Oct. when I get a letter from a debt collector.
    Pretty pissed, I call them and again state my point of why I should pay them when they can't fix the ceiling for 4 months. They say there was no such work order done for the ceiling, but they will "look into it."
    I give it a month and no response again, so I email them and write that since they have not gotten back to me, I will take that as their response and will not be paying them.
    I get a call the next day (yesterday) and we meet. I bring pics and emails to prove everything and they admit they screwed up with the ceiling.
    Today they called me back and knocked the price down to $350 because I proved the linoleum wasn't me.

    So should I pay them? They don't seem to care that they didn't fix the ceiling...other than saying "our bad."

    What's my next step? I feel I should tell them to piss off and hire a lawyer. Or do I admit that what's left actually is on me and just pay to end this mess? In reality I should only pay for the crisper. The rest is them being overly picky IMO and just looking for anything to try to squeeze blood from a stone.
    Word is they try this crap on everyone that moves out.
  2. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I would not pay it, at least not yet.

    If the collection agency calls, say you've contacted an attorney and have been told not to pay anything until it is resolved.

    There's a decent chance they will drop it after that. It's not worth the hassle for them over $350.
  3. LongTimeListener

    LongTimeListener Well-Known Member

    I wouldn't pay it ever. The only leverage they hold is dinging your credit report, so maybe you're worried about that, but if this is the only blemish you don't have to worry too much about that either. They aren't going to file a lawsuit.

    If they give it to a collection agency, usually your price can be negotiated. The company "sells" the debt to the collection agency -- say $350 of debt will sell for $35. So anything the debt collector recoups beyond that is profit. If you are inclined to pay it, you can probably get away at about $100.

    Again, though, I wouldn't pay it.
  4. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    At the very least, fight them on the carpet. Ask them to prove how old the carpet was when you moved in so, because you are only responsible for anything beyond wear-and-tear.

    As soon as you start to fight them on this stuff, they'll probably back down. It's just a scam because they figure they have nothing to lose if even some percentage of people pay up out of fear.
  5. ifilus

    ifilus Active Member

    Wasn't there a security deposit? Usually landlords make up damages in order to keep your deposit.
  6. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    So I talked to a law office...they said most only work for no less than $200/hr. That seems pretty dumb to pay someone $200-400 bucks just so that I don't have to pay $350. I'm leaning toward just asking the complex for a line-item of costs they say I owe and then telling them to bring me to court for it.
    I'll risk the credit hit, we have perfect credit.
    Actually, it's just in my name...so it would only affect mine.
    I've defended myself in court before (fought a traffic ticket this summer and sort of won) so I wouldn't mind trying again.
  7. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

    It was $99 and in the lease it basically says they will charge you $99 after you leave to clean the carpet...so they basically keep your money. I knew that going in and didn't care.
  8. Brooklyn Bridge

    Brooklyn Bridge Active Member

    You don't have to hire a lawyer, just make them think you did. I was in a place with an older refrigerator that broke down several times. After throwing out food a second time, I sent a certified letter ( you need proof they received it, much better than an email) stating that several attempts to fix the situation have proven fruitless. I have acquired legal representation and any further corespondentce will be through his office.

    Wouldn't you know, a crew is by the following. Afternoon with a new refrigerator.
  9. Matt1735

    Matt1735 Well-Known Member

    As a former apartment manager, photos are your friend. As you move in and move out of apartments, take pictures of everything. The landlord I worked for (which was in a college town) made us take pictures of every wall mark (more than a smudge), every carpet ding, the stove, etc.

    When we filled out the damage report and claim against their deposit, we had photos. When they went to student legal to contest, the lawyers there told them to fight us wasn't worth their time. Those who did fight lost badly, every time.

    Now that I'm a home owner, I don't have that worry, but when I was a tenant, I took photos coming and going in case I ever got dinged. I learned from the best.
  10. Baron Scicluna

    Baron Scicluna Well-Known Member

    I echo the photos. Always take them when you move in. It's saved me a couple of times. Landlords tried to claim damages. I showed them the photos. They were very quiet afterwards.

    Most states have rental laws with an "ordinary wear and tear" clause, meaning that things are expected to get worn out over time. A hole punched in the wall isn't wear and tear. A crappy carpet is.

    I'd make them document each and every bit of wear and tear. Even make them prove how much the crisper costs. They can't just make up a number.

    And don't let the debt collector bother you or harass you. You have a right to tell them to stop calling you. And if they do harass you, tell them you will call the Better Business Bureau and report them for illegal collection methods.
  11. BDC99

    BDC99 Well-Known Member

    Don't pay it. If you can take the credit hit, which I wouldn't imagine would be too severe, just don't. And if you fight them on it, they will back down, especially if you have (or they think you have) a lawyer. Sending a certified letter is a good idea, letting them know you want an itemized list of the "damages" and stating that they did not fix the ceiling for several months. Mention that you are willing to hire a lawyer to fight it if necessary. I wouldn't bluff on saying you have hired a lawyer, because they just might call you on it.
    If you happen to have any friends in the law business, maybe they can help. I broke a lease about 3 months early several years ago, and my brother-in-law's mother is a legal secretary, so she just wrote a letter to the real estate agent and I never heard from them again.
  12. JR

    JR Well-Known Member

    Do you guys have a thing down there called "small claims court" where the parties come before a justice of the peace/judge?

    We used to use it at the bookstore for people who bounced cheques and wouldn't pay up. Not only did we almost always get our money, the assholes had to pay the court fees.
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