September 12, 2007

Update (belated, misinformed, and grossly light of substance)

Filed under: Entries — arglor @ 2:00 pm

Well. Where do I begin.

The most important and recent information I can give you. Several of you may be familiar with this, but some may not. When we left New Jersey, we were accused of “breaking our lease”. This is of course ignoring the fact that our “breaking” of the lease was well known by all parties involved (landlord, manager, etc.) Bottom line is the week before we left the apartment, we were informed by our landlord that our “security deposit” would be sacrificed for “breaking” our lease. I began doing some research to see if this was legal.

It seems theoretically I could argue the case before a judge and would have roughly a 65%-75% chance of winning the case because of four points in my favor.

First off, the manager (who alters leases on the fly and initials the alterations) wrote me a letter giving me the exact amount of moneys owed for my last month’s rent.

Second, the landlord cashed our check accepting the understood contractual rights inherent in writing out the check initially.

Third, the Security Act protects tenants from actions exactly like this. It is illegal for the landlord to use the security deposit money for “owed” rent, the landlord has to get written permission from the tenant in order to use the money in this regard. This is not to mention a host of other regulations that the landlord is required to follow.

Fourth, and most important, is the fact that the apartment had a serious leak in the bathroom. The apartment was not in a habitable state when we left. The handyman who they hired to fix the apartment, left the bathroom in a horrid state. Every time the upstairs neighbor took a shower, the drain water drained into our bathroom.

Bottom line was, I felt like I could take this case to small claims court and make a strong argument for our case. It wasn’t iron clad though, because we did leave the apartment early and the leaving of the apartment was decided long before the “leaky bathroom” incident.

Needless to say I used every tactic in my arsenal to resolve this issue without going to court. I sent certified mail before we left the address, I placed several calls to all parties involved even to a Mr. O who is (supposedly) an officer of the landlord/tenant office. My discussions with both the landlord’s representative and the landlord/tenant agent looked positive before we left New Jersey. When I hit the Louisiana border I felt a rush of pleasure because I knew we were buying our next house and wouldn’t have to deal with leasing disagreements (only owning a house problems).

The month flew by. Suddenly the deadline for them to serve us with our security deposit passed and no service. A week after the deadline passed, I began making calls. Our next door neighbor informed us that they still haven’t fixed our roof in the bathroom and that it didn’t look good for getting a replacement renter. I called the landlord/tenant rep and he said that he would contact all parties again and find out what went “wrong”.

Two days pass by, and no response, I call him back and he says that the landlord hasn’t gotten in touch with him.

Three weeks pass again and no response.

I am getting pissed. I get so pissed because what this is doing is forcing my hand for action. I place one final call to Mr. Odell and he informs me that “maybe” I should call the landlord myself and resolve this. I’m flabbergasted. I contact the landlord (again) and tell leave a message saying: “I have yet to receive our security deposit which is well over the 30 days deadline. Mr. Cole has been aware of our new address since before we left New Jersey. If i don’t receive word from you about this in the next 15 days, I will file a lawsuit and follow this through with the strongest of conviction.”

After my message he went to Mr. O’s office in person and gave his case. Mr O. called me today with the landlord in his office for a “conference call”. I used my background in critical thinking and my newly acquired legal skills to argue myself into a position of partial win. What I call a serious victory is the fact that the landlord is required to wire the money by Western Union on monday morning. He was arguing to pay me by October 15th. He was vehement, arguing that “he didn’t have the money to pay me.” To which I replied clearly and succinctly, “This is further proof that he was using our money as his own which is a clear violation of the Security Deposit Act.”

All the same. More later.

3 Responses to “Update (belated, misinformed, and grossly light of substance)”

  1. Snaars Says:

    Congratulations (albeit belated)!

    Haha, philosophy judo! Take that! Have at you!

  2. DRamke Says:

    well, more to come….when???
    guess working for lawyers helps. by the way…your lawyer a tax lawyer. have a question for him if he is. waiting with interest for the next installment.

  3. girlbean Says:

    Good job! My understanding of the law is that NJ is certainly a better place to fight this type of thing than LA. Glad that came in your favor.

    You should update more. You know, between your school load and a demanding job and a fulfilling home life, spend some useless time on the internet!