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Apartment Move-Out Charges, Potential Collection w/ PDM

MOSHIE
New Visitor

Apartment Move-Out Charges, Potential Collection w/ PDM

Hello.

 

I apologize if this post is long but I will do my best to give you guys a picture of what I am going through. 

 

I recently moved out of an apartment complex and received the usual security deposit vs move-out charges statement. To my surprise, there was an outstanding charge of $3k to replace the entire unit's flooring. I questioned this charge to the property manager and her reasoning was: she feels that the odor from the apartment, due to pet urine is outstanding and needs to have the flooring replaced. Few things to point out here are; my pets do not urinate in the apartment, the floors physically is not damaged and I did not do a complete thorough deep clean of the entire unit when I moved out, only vacuumed (due to exhaustion). 

 

I was presented with all of the pictures documenting the damages but as far as the floor goes, she only shows me pictures of the floors as if you would show someone what your apartment looked like. I could do a before vs after picture and they will look almost exactly the same, minus some wear and tear. There is no lighting to prove pet urine stains or anything to prove her subjective 'smell' issue. The only smell that I can think of is the smell of the air not being on for a few days (lack of ventilation due to HVAC turned off). In addition to the move out charges, they also mentioned I have 10 days before this file gets turned over to collections. 

 

I have tried to negotiate down with the manager to see if we can settle on a lesser amount as $3k for something she does not have concrete evidence is crazy. She will not budge and I also recorded her saying basically she is not willing to work anything out besides arranging a payment plan, which I agreed to in order to delay my file being turned over to PDM. 

 

I've considered the following: 

1. Let the file go to collections and hire a credit repair to sort out the mess 

2. Swallow my pride and pay per the payment arrangement

3. Let the file go to collections and negotiate with PDM directly. 

4. Contact an attorney (real estate attorney?) and see where I stand legally

5. Officially dispute

 

I've did some research about PDM (Professional Debt Mediator) and read horrible things about them. I've read that they do not PFD, so this makes me hesistant about #1 and #3. #2 would be my last resort to avoid having the ding on my credit report so brings me to #4 and #5. I don't know how to dispute; do I contact corporate or I tell the manager even though I've already agreed to the arrangement? 

 

I will appreciate any feedback and advice to this. I don't want to ding this on my credit and at the same time I don't want to pay $3k for something that I believe is way overblown. Do I get an attorney and challenge them based on the evidence they gave me? I've never been in this position before. 

 

Thank you! 

Message 1 of 6
5 REPLIES 5
HeyNurse90
New Member

Re: Apartment Move-Out Charges, Potential Collection w/ PDM

I'm by no means an expert (especially because I'm new here) but have you looked up renter's rights in your state? Depending on how long you lived in the unit you may not be responsible to cover the cost to replace the flooring. I think contacting a local people's self help legal or a real estate attorney would be worthwhile. Trying to clean up credit is definitely not easy or a quick fix, JMO. 

Message 2 of 6
OmarGB9
Community Leader
Super Contributor

Re: Apartment Move-Out Charges, Potential Collection w/ PDM

Definitely go with a lawyer. They'll be best equipped and most knowledgeable about how to handle this.


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Message 3 of 6
Cowboys4Life
Frequent Contributor

Re: Apartment Move-Out Charges, Potential Collection w/ PDM

Replacing flooring is one of the biggest frauds that landlords use to renovate a unit at the expense of the former tenant(s) credit and bank account.

 

Here is how I fought my former landlord when they tried that tactic on me.  I sent a certified letter outlining my full dispute of their alleged damages and demanded:

  • The name of the manufacturer of the floor/carpeting
  • the known industry life span of that model
  • date of original installation
  • name/qualifications of person(s)/company who installed the flooring/carpeting
  • full itemized estimate for the necessary repairs including a statement outlining the damage and why full replacement is needed vs. repair
  • name and qualifications of the person(s) who did the inspection and deemed the flooring damaged and/or beyond repair

I would state that after consulting an attorney I am revoking my consent to a payment plan as I believe their charges are grossly inflated if there are any damages and that even if the flooring was damaged beyond reasonable repair that they are not legally entitled to full replacement value only depreciated value and that has not been determined based on her demands.  Give them 14 business days to respond.  They will ignore you most likely.

 

Then you sue in small claims court for any deposit they withheld and watch how fast they settle.  They bank on (literally and figuratively) that most residents don't fight back.  They also don't want to go into court and prove their damages because they know that they are making most of it up to get you to pay for their renovations.

 

After I sent my demand letter they backed off all their damages except my lease termination fee but because their manager waited 33 days beyond my state law in sending the letter regarding withholding the deposit they owed me 3x the deposit in penalty so we settled for them paying me the difference between the lease termination fee and the 3x damages on the deposit.  They fought me at first and when I emailed over a copy of the small claims paperwork ready to be filed they caved.

Message 4 of 6
MOSHIE
New Visitor

Re: Apartment Move-Out Charges, Potential Collection w/ PDM

Thank you so much for this post! 

 

I do have a few questions though; 

 

1) When you mentioned 'certified' letter, what does that mean really? Certified by notary? Sorry if that's a stupid question to ask its just that I've never had to make a certified letter especially in cases like this. 

 

2) Regarding the statement about revoking consent to payment plans; is that included in the original letter which lists all of the hard questions you've listed or is that during a follow-up conversation (ie, email) with them? 

 

3) So immediately after sending them this letter (after 14 business days), we go to small claims court and attempt to sue them? What happens if they indeed fight it and countersue (just for hypothetically) 

 

4) I've managed to have until October 15th to make my first payment plan of the arrangement otherwise my file is sent to collections. I'm worried that if I send over the official dispute, they will go ahead and send over the file to collections.

 

5) The amount of deposit I'll be getting back is close to nothing as all of the other damages are valid. Just not the floors. I'm not paying $3k for perfectly fine floors that could be professionally cleaned to get rid of 'odor'

 

 

Thank you for your fantastic advice! I will give this a go! 

Message 5 of 6
Cowboys4Life
Frequent Contributor

Re: Apartment Move-Out Charges, Potential Collection w/ PDM


@MOSHIE wrote:

Thank you so much for this post! 

 

I do have a few questions though; 

 

1) When you mentioned 'certified' letter, what does that mean really? Certified by notary? Sorry if that's a stupid question to ask its just that I've never had to make a certified letter especially in cases like this. 

 

2) Regarding the statement about revoking consent to payment plans; is that included in the original letter which lists all of the hard questions you've listed or is that during a follow-up conversation (ie, email) with them? 

 

3) So immediately after sending them this letter (after 14 business days), we go to small claims court and attempt to sue them? What happens if they indeed fight it and countersue (just for hypothetically) 

 

4) I've managed to have until October 15th to make my first payment plan of the arrangement otherwise my file is sent to collections. I'm worried that if I send over the official dispute, they will go ahead and send over the file to collections.

 

5) The amount of deposit I'll be getting back is close to nothing as all of the other damages are valid. Just not the floors. I'm not paying $3k for perfectly fine floors that could be professionally cleaned to get rid of 'odor'

 

 

Thank you for your fantastic advice! I will give this a go! 


1)  Certified mail showing you sent it to them.  Return receipt is an option on that.

2)  Yes, in the same letter.  I would state something like "after consulting legal advice I dispute the claimed floor damages of [amount] and request the following information before agreeing to any payment options:"  then list the demands.

3)  Yes, if they ignore you then you file in small claims court.  Rarely have I seen them put up a case unless the tenant really did some serious damage.  $3k for replacing floors is way too much for an apartment.  They do not want to go to court as the defendant because they know the court will expect way more proof than their word $3k worth of damages were done.

4)  I am not going to lie:  they probably will.  But then I would amend my claim to include FCRA violation(s) because they know the amount is in open dispute and the subjet of litigation.

5)  The $3k is exactly the problem.  My situation was similar.  I didn't dispute the lease termination fee.  I disputed them trying to nail me for resurfacing a tub that I annotated on my move in inspection was faded and off color ($1k), new carpeting ($2.5k) when it was 8 years old and 3 years past life expectancy for the brand, and loose cabinet hinges when they were loose on move in and maintenance said they could not fix them because they used particle board cabinets.  Needless to say they got none of that.  I have NO problem paying actual damages I am responsible for but I draw the line at paying even one red cent for money they want to renovate at my expense or worse pad their bank account and never do any upgrades. 

 

Whether you decide to take this path is up to you.  Only you can decide how much of this you can pursue and at what risk.

Message 6 of 6
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