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  • how to dispute landlord charges?

    On 10 Apr 2006, in misc.legal.moderated [email protected] wrote
    [I've g]ot a questions here about landlord-tenant dispute for non-rental related charges . . . .
    . . . except you do not report whether you have actually verified
    that your lease does not identify the below referred to items as
    "additional rent" or the like.
    We moved [out of our commercial space in a mall [before our lease expired]. The landlord allowed this but we had to forfeit our security deposit of $5,000. No problem.
    OTOH, the balance of what you go on to say/ask appears to suggest that
    your "No problem" characterization is not correct.

    OTOH, your "landlord allowed this" characterization and apparent
    suggestion that you and the landlord agreed that the consideration for
    mutually agreed early lease termination was that you would cede your
    security deposit to the landlord might raise the related question
    (which you do not try to answer) whether there has been some sort of
    compromise/settlement which, if effectively relied on (whether in
    negotiation or in litigation if a lawsuit eventuates), might bar the
    landlord's below described claim. .
    I got a bill yesterday from the landlord for $4,000 in "repairs". Some of the "repairs" are rediculously overprice. For example, putting a new wallplat on a light switch (ten cents) was billed as $150. Putting on a new toilet seat ($20) was billed as $500.
    You may be later proven correct that the landlord has overcharged in
    the sense of overstating (or maybe even having deliberately
    misrepresented) the cost of any particular repair. But, otherwise,
    you appear here to conflate that issue with whether the lease
    authorizes the landlord to obtain reimbursement for the (you don't say
    whether actual or "reasonable") value of repairs necessitated by the
    condition of the premises as left by the tenant.
    In addition, when we moved into the place it was totally trashed and we had to put in new carpet, paint the walls, etc. which cost us $15,000. Most of the repair charges he is hitting us with are for cleaning or repairing the items we had to buy and put into the place to begin with because the place was such a dump!
    These facts, too, fail to report what your _lease_ says about these
    subjects and so will remain irrelevant unless/until you've done so.
    Now if we formally dispute this bill with the landlord can he still send a collection agency after us while it is disputed (that is what he is threatening)?
    You already know the answer to this "can?" question.

    A "collection agency" is little more than a person or enterprise
    designated by a claimed creditor to make a demand for payment as
    against a claimed debtor -- and is it not so that pretty much "anyone
    can demand pretty much anything of pretty much anyone else"?
    What usually happens with this stuff?
    If they are sensible, each of the parties first reads their lease
    carefully to learn what that document says about these subjects.

    If there has been a mutually agreed early termination of a written
    lease, then, if they are sensible, each of the parties then considers
    carefully including dispassionately (i.e., in light of what they have
    reason to believe the other would claim about these matters) what they
    each said to the other and reads all (if any) documents (letters?
    memoranda of agreement? endorsements on a check? etc., etc.) that
    constitute or otherwise memorialize that agreement (here, re. your
    earlier departure) to determine whether/how (if at all) that
    settlement affects what the lease otherwise provides.

    After doing the above, each decides in his/her/its own self-defined
    self-interest whether it does/doesn't make sense to try to negotiate a
    compromise and, if not, whether to sue or whether the other probably
    will sue.

    If litigation results, the parties then either compromise/settle (at
    some point) or go to trial whereupon it is open to each to try
    factually to prove their respective claims/defenses.
    It seems to go to court will cost as much as what he is asking.
    This is a factor to be taken into consideration in deciding whether to
    try to compromise/settle (AGAIN: in light of what parties' lease and
    any other agreements provide and also in part dependent on the answer
    to the "where?" question in terms of whether, in light of what their
    lease and any other of their prior agreements provide, a prevailing
    party in the sort of litigation to which you refer probably
    would/wouldn't be awarded reimbursement for reasonably attorneys fees
    and court costs if it or s/he sought such relief).
    Any opinions on the course of action we should take from here besides disputing in writing?
    Unless/until (you have reported what your lease says about these
    issues, where the dispute is occurring, and whether your and the
    landlord's agreement re. your consensual modification of the lease by
    its mutually agreed earlier termination bears on the issues to which
    you refer, it would not be reasonable for you to rely on any seemingly
    substantive answer to any of your questions.


  • #2
    Impossible to answer without seeing the lease, but dispute the charges in writing and however the lease says to dispute these things. I suggest sending it in writing and sending it certified mail, return receipt in case it goes to court. It sounds like the landlord retaining the deposit is adequate but without seeing the lease, difficult to say. If you have proof, pcitures, of the condition of the proeprty when you rented it, could be good to have in case this goes to court to prove you left property better than the way it was found and better than you had to leave it.

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