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Landlord tries forcing tenants to pay for renovation when moving out but ends up regretting it

The couple had moved out of the place on good terms but got a voice note a couple of days later saying one of the rooms smelled bad and needed renovation.

Landlord tries forcing tenants to pay for renovation when moving out but ends up regretting it
Representative Cover Image Source: Pexels | Cal David; Reddit | u/wusselpompf

Dealing with difficult landlords can be a big problem, especially if it involves taking your security deposit back and they won't budge. A couple faced such a situation and was about to lose their deposit when their landlord came up with a last-minute excuse for damages. However, things took an unexpected turn in the favor of the couple and the landlord ended up paying more than he would due to an interesting loophole, as per a Reddit post by u/wusselpompf.

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pavel Danilyuk
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Pavel Danilyuk

The incident happened a couple of years ago when the couple was about to move out of their apartment. "So moving day comes, the landlord shows up and we walk through the whole apartment with him to hand it over. Even though he has some minor complaints, in the end, he agrees to refund the deposit in full and we part on good terms," the husband shared. "A couple of days pass and we get a long angry voicemail claiming he was renovating and noticed that the room that was my former office smells extremely bad, claiming our cats would have urinated in there repeatedly."

Representative Image Source: Pexels | Rene Terp
Representative Image Source: Pexels | Rene Terp

The landlord asked them to come back and renovate the room, failing which he threatened to call contractors and a health inspector at the couple's cost to get it done. It included everything from new paint, wallpapers and hardwood flooring. Although the couple didn't outright deny his claim as they have cats, they knew he was bluffing. "We realized that this is basically impossible, as I used the room every day and we had the apartment professionally cleaned before handing it back and there's just no way that what he's describing was there when we left," the husband revealed. He felt it could have been a raccoon or something that must have gotten in the apartment when it was closed, but it was not their fault.

"So we call him to let him know we won't cover it and he gets really nasty making all kinds of claims about the state of the apartment, about how he would twist everything and how he would make sure we would pay for this," the husband revealed. He eventually hung up on his landlord. But the couple lived in constant worry, expecting a massive bill to land at their doorstep any day. They didn't get their deposit back and the wife was constantly worried about what would happen. It made her husband really angry and he decided to do something about it.

"I discovered that where we live if a landlord does not formally claim a reason for holding back a deposit within six months of the end of the lease, they are by law required to refund it. So I figure that revenge is a dish best served cold and we just need to wait it out for another three months or so and after that, it's our turn," the husband shared. After waiting for six months, the husband asked for his deposit from the landlord over a call. "He just replies, 'Yeah, sure, buddy.' So we waited, but no money came. Then, we sent a formal letter setting a second deadline. Again, nothing happened." The couple hired an attorney and the landlord started claiming unnecessary damages. However, the attorney dismissed it, saying that the date had passed.

Image Source: Reddit | u/Numerous_Cup_5799
Image Source: Reddit | u/Numerous_Cup_5799
Image Source: Reddit | u/mojojojomu
Image Source: Reddit | u/mojojojomu

"Then, for some reason, he pays only 80% or so of the amount due, so the attorney has to get at it again to get the full amount," the husband shared. "Apparently, he is not realizing that all this is incurring hourly costs for the attorney, which he also has to pay, as he is legally liable to refund." He ended up paying back the deposit, the interest and the legal fees, which came up to be a much larger sum than just the deposit. "Once everything was settled, my wife and I just sat in our new home's garden, had a glass of wine and burned the old rental agreement while planning how to spend the deposit," the husband concluded.

u/impostershop remarked, "Landlord is lucky. In my state, he would have had to pay triple damages (3x the unrefunded deposit)." u/8FootedAlgaeEater wrote, "Forcing people to wait six months for a deposit refund is absolutely insane." u/jericho pointed out, "Pro tip kids: Legal representation is really not that expensive and it gets it done. Also, almost any law firm would like to sit down and talk about your issue. Get a lawyer."

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