Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Maria

Posted by Maria’s tenant on April 28, 2006 at 17:03:54:

I’m sure they do have their own side of the story, and if they ever decide to present it to the judge instead of playing these “the dog ate my evidence” games, maybe I’ll get to hear it.

I don’t regard the discussion as moot. It’s been very helpful to me, and I appreciate your input. I appreciate everyone’s input. I don’t believe in karma or divine retribution, so it’s especially galling to find myself in a situation where the laws seem designed to insure that even if I win the judgment it may well be an empty victory. Your contribution to this discussion has been valuable to me, and I’m sorry if you feel I’ve wasted your time.

Feeling no shame…

Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Maria

Posted by Maria on April 27, 2006 at 12:21:52:

We moved out of our house in 2003, and moved to another city about 3 hours away. Because housing
prices were still screaming toward the sky, we didn’t want to sell it if we didn’t have to, so we
rented it to a family that seemed nice at the time. The first year there were no problems, and
since prices were still climbing, we signed a lease for a second year. The second year, we started
getting complaints, beginning with the dishwasher. They claimed it hadn’t worked since they moved
in, and they wanted it replaced. Since we lived in another city, we told them to take care of it,
but not to spend more than $300. Well, they bought a dishwasher that cost more than $300, but since
we’d set a limit, they had to pay the difference themselves. We did pay for the installation. Then
they said the pipes under the kitchen sink were leaking, so we asked them to take care of that and
take it out of the rent. That was a couple of hundred dollars. Then a tree out behind the house
broke some pipes back there, and it cost more hundreds to fix that. A pipe in a bathroom started
leaking, and they sent us a bill for another couple of hundred. The final straw was when they called
us and said the pool pump was making noise. Our pool man (we’d been paying him separately) said
they had let the water level in the pool drop too low, causing the pump to burn out. We had just had
a new pump put in 5 years ago, and they’re supposed to last 8 years; this cost us another $600 to
replace. Even though we could probably have argued the tenants were negligent in not maintaining the
water level, we went ahead and paid for that.

Housing prices aren’t rising so fast any more, so when the lease was up this
year, we told them to move, as we were planning to sell the house. After they
moved out, we found out that they had re-hung a door on one of the bedrooms
backward, and one of the rugs had a small stain it. They claimed that they had
re-hung the door backward (i.e., it opens right-to-left instead of left-to-
right) because the light switch was on that side, but when we lived there it was
never a problem to reach behind the door to flip the switch after you entered
the bedroom. In addition, they didn’t paint the door, and didn’t patch the
holes where the hinges for the previous door were. They said since we would
probably paint the whole house anyway to sell it, that they thought we would
take care of it. We took care of it all right. Since they never gave us a list
of “pre-existing” problems when they moved in, as required by their lease, we
presented them with a list of almost 50 problems that we “discovered” after they
moved out, including grease in the stove and soap scum in the soap dish. We
kept their entire $2000 security deposit.

We replaced the carpet in all 3 bedrooms and the hall, because it was all matching
carpet, and we couldn’t replace just the carpet in the one bedroom where there was a stain.
We also painted the entire inside of the house, so it would be easier to sell. Altogether,
we spent close to $5000 on just these two things, which we felt more than justified keeping
their $2000 deposit.

Well, they took us to small claims court, suing not for $2000 but for $6000, arguing that we had
kept their money in “bad faith” because we hadn’t given them written notice about their right to a
pre-moveout inspection, and didn’t itemize costs on the 50-item list when we kept the security
deposit. Because they had named both my husband and myself in the lawsuit, we were able to
delay it by a couple of months – first I asked for a continuance because I was having “medical
tests” that month (which was true), and then my husband asked for a continuance because he
couldn’t get off work that day, and it’s a 3-hour drive to get to court (mostly true too). We
thought we could probably get the house sold and hide the money before our former tenants got
a judgment. After two months with no offers, we lowered the price by $10,000, but it still hadn’t
sold by the time we went to court.

Yesterday, we drove up for our court date, and found out why. When we stopped by the house,
we saw that the former tenant had parked his car on the street outside our house, with signs
in the window saying “I lived here from 2003 to 2006; call me for the inside story”. We had
one of our friends call, and he’s telling people there is extensive termite damage under the
dishwasher they replaced, as well as in other parts of the house, and that the plumbing is
noisy and rotting, and that there may be black mold in one of the bathrooms. I should mention
that one of the problems we listed was that a built-in soap dish was coming loose in one of the
bathrooms. It wasn’t actually loose, but it was missing grout, and there was a half-inch space
between the dish and the wall, which he’s claiming water might have been getting in since before
they moved in. He doesn’t say there IS black mold, just that there might be, because of the
possibility that water has gotten in there. He’s also saying they found rats in the pool from a junkyard behind our property,
and that the floors aren’t level. I never saw any rats, but the neighbor behind us does
have a lot of old cars and junk on the other side of the fence, but I doubt that most buyers
would even look back there unless this nasty tenant were pointing it out to them. And it’s true
that the floors aren’t level in the patio that was enclosed, but it’s permitted, and again, I
doubt that buyers would notice if someone wasn’t calling it to their attention.

In court, it turned out that even though the tenant hadn’t made a list of pre-existing problems,
he had made a videotape, and with all the delays I guess he had time to make DVDs to show on his
laptop and prints of frames on the videos. The judge said they didn’t prove bad faith, but he did
award them $2000, which we have 30 days to appeal, and we certainly will. I’m pretty sure we
can get the house sold and closed in another couple of months, if we can get that car moved. My
husband says it’s on a public street, but I’m sure what they’re doing can’t be just a free speech
issue. They’re costing us money! What kind of restraining order or injunction should I be
pursuing to get them to stop? Is it tortous interference? Can’t we just have it towed? Please help!

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by rent-to-own

Posted by rent-to-own on April 28, 2006 at 24:51:26:

Maria, Maria, Maria!

Get real woman!

You can’t get paid for having to paint. So anything you spent on painting is considered normal wear and tear. Especially after two years of renting the property.

Carpet has a life expectancy of about 10 years. How old was the carpeting? Was it brand new when they moved in? Let’s assume the carpet was 5 years old. That would only entitle you to 50% of replacement cost. As far as the carpet matching the hall and two other bedrooms, why couldn’t you of replaced the one room with the same matching carpet? Is it because the carpet is that old that they don’t make that type and color any more? Or because it is that old that it is faded where replacing one room with the same style and color wouldn’t match? If that is the case then it is time to replace it regardless. Don’t put it all on the tenant over a stain.

You said the pump was “only” 5 years old and should last 8 years. Hello!!! That means you got 62.5% of the pumps life expectancy. It only had 3 years life left. So you would be responsible for 62.5% of the $600 and the tenant would be responsible for only 37.5% of the cost of replacing it. You got 5 years out of the 8 years use of it! You can’t get full replacement cost on something that has a life expectancy. You can only collect on the life expectancy left.

So if the carpet was at least 10 years old anyway, you have no recourse against the tenant on that.

You have no recourse on the cost of painting. That is normal wear and tear.

You have partial recourse on the pump if you can prove they were negligent causing the pump to burn up.

You have recourse against any cost to clean the stove and soap scum.

You have a legal obligation to provide the tenant with an itemized list and cost of damages. You can’t just say it cost you x amount. You need to show proof and you need to be fair by charging accordingly based the age and life expectancy on anything you replace.

You had 5 years use of the pump. How can you expect them to pay for the 5 years of use you already got? You got 62.5% of it use. You would have to pay $375 of the $600 and they would be liable for the other $225 providing you can prove they were at fault for causing the pump to burn up.

The same with the carpeting.

You have no claim or recourse on the cost of painting. That is normal wear and tear.

You would be entitled to recover cost of cleaning the stove and soap scum as long as your lease required them to leave the property clean the way it was when they moved in.

Had you documented all this properly and showed you were being FAIR about everything by only charging for fair portion of any life expectancy left on the carpet and pump then you may have won your case in court. Instead you tried to hold them liable for full replacement cost on everything and disregarded any life and use you already got from it. You need to be FAIR.

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by eric

Posted by eric on April 27, 2006 at 22:25:50:

pay them the 2000 and move on. i wouldn t have held the rent in the first place, if all that is wrong is soap scum, pool pump,a door,and a small stain on the rug. hire a handy man pay 1,000 fix and clean everthing. sell the house. your wasting time on these little write offs when you should be focus on bigger things like selling the house. move on!!!

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Mary-Oh

Posted by Mary-Oh on April 27, 2006 at 18:30:42:

I have been a landlord for a long time and I have worked for HUD for 10 years, so with that said, you failed to document the condition of the unit at move-in, you failed to conduct regular inspections of your property, you did not give them a list of security deposit deductions within the times frames required by your state. Most of what you mentioned in normal wear and tear. Let it go. In Ohio the tenants are awarded 3x’s the security deposit if landlord fails to uphold his/her obligations. I say, think TAX WRITE OFF and move on. Sorry but you won’t win an appeal,based on your post. I’m not a lawyer so seak legal advice.

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by lukeNC

Posted by lukeNC on April 27, 2006 at 17:29:54:

pay the $2k and be done with it…not worth the headache. plus they are not NEARLY as bad as other horror stories. In fact, they are not diabolical.

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Joe Kaiser

Posted by Joe Kaiser on April 27, 2006 at 14:36:20:

This is a diabolical tenant?

You’re keeping $2000 for scum in the soap dish?

It sounds like they paid timely, fixed all the problems as best they
could for you, and did a pretty decent job of things.

Keeping their $2000 was diabolical.

Tenants are people too.


Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Rachael

Posted by Rachael on April 27, 2006 at 13:49:29:

Pardon me for saying so, but it sounds like maybe you were an overly harsh landlord. Many of the “problems” you found after the tenant moved out sound like normal wear and tear. I have rented and my parents were landlords (still getting started myself) and they always knew that when one tenant moved out there would be sprucing up to be done. The security deposit is for things that are wrong above and beyond what is considered normal. It sounds to me like you tried to deflect the normal costs of being a landlord onto a tenant, which doesn’t seem right either. True it sounds as if they weren’t top grade tenants, but if some of your most horrific problems with them were left over grease and soap scum, sounds like you got off lucky. Carpet and paint seem like normal things that wear out and can look dingy after awhile.

My point in all of this is that, they (they tenants) probably feel screwed and they are trying to screw you back. Maybe if you just give them back the 2g’s they will leave you alone and you can sell.

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Maria

Posted by Maria on April 28, 2006 at 08:04:14:

Maybe we won’t win our appeal, but that’s not the point. We don’t really have to win the appeal, we only have to buy some time. We have 30 days to appeal. We file our appeal in 30 days, and then the hearing is set for a month after that. I ask for a continuance (the clerks just rubber stamp these), which buys us another 30 days, and then my husband asks for a continuance, which gets us another 30. That’s 4 more months to get the house sold and closed, and put the money in a bank overseas somewhere, and the market should still be hot enough to get that done with no problem. These tenants may be diabolical, but I don’t think they’re going to hire a professional collection agency for a mere $2000. They may win the appeal, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to collect, once our house can’t be attached.

I was really asking how to get the car with the signs out from in front of the house we’re selling, and so far nobody seems to have any ideas about that. Maybe I should have asked on Mr. Landlord.

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Tina Johnson

Posted by Tina Johnson on April 30, 2006 at 18:36:35:

Follow the thread ALL the way back. Thought it was not ok to scam others on this site?
Nice work, Joe! Nothing wrong with your nose or eyesight.

I’m in awe,


Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Jack KY

Posted by Jack KY on April 27, 2006 at 15:45:32:

Settle this as quickly as you can, and get your house sold. This bad management has likely cost you more than $2K already.

Bottom line, the landlords behaved worse than the tenants.


Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Joe

Posted by Joe on April 27, 2006 at 14:27:33:

I would tend to agree. The only things I could see you keeping the security deposit for are the pool pump, the stain, and the door. And you should have specified these items to them.

As far as the bad advertising, if it’s a public street, just call the police and tell them there’s an abandoned car on the street. Usually there are laws about how long something can be parked in a given spot. As well, you may have a case for libel or slander of some sort. If you feel that it is truly affecting the sale of your house, I would go after them. Show comparables, take a few statements from local realtors about what kind of response they would expect for the listing price, show that you’ve had no response, and sue them for the difference in price. Maybe they’ll settle and stop the bad advertising, and you’ll get your costs back for the pump, stain, and door.

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Berno

Posted by Berno on April 27, 2006 at 14:26:27:

Unfortunatly, it seems to have escalated now. I agree with Rachael, sounds like most of the items were normal and a couple of things could have been handled better if you had someone in the area that could handle the problems that popped up after you moved (arranging a deal with a local handyman, for example).

Sounds like the tenants feel like they got the shaft and they obviously have power to harm you, like by ruining the sale of your home. Yeah, you could probably get a lawyer, drag them to court, win a judgement, save face, but at hat cost? Your time, your trouble, your sleepless nights?

I would swallow the pride, give them a call and work something out like adults. No offense intended, just my 2 cents.

Okay, I get it now . . . - Posted by Joe Kaiser

Posted by Joe Kaiser on April 28, 2006 at 11:53:52:

Obviously, we’ve all been had. Funny.


Tenant - Posted by Nike

Posted by Nike on April 28, 2006 at 09:04:29:

The judgment will pop-up at closing–you’re not going to have a chance to get the money safely into your account (are you serious about using an overseas account? For $2000.?).

Settle–as part of the settlement make them agree not to interfere with the sale. Let them know that if they interfere with sale that you may seek legal damages. Get the home sold and move on.

Re: Diabolical Tenant - Posted by Rachael

Posted by Rachael on April 28, 2006 at 08:24:55:

Are you kidding??? Maria, your last post was all about how you are still trying to screw these people out of their money, even after everyone agrees that you were unfair to them. Learn this lesson and treat others as you’d like to be treated. Look to yourselves on how your behavior has perpetuated this situation and make amends and end this battle.

They AREN’T DIABOLICAL…I’d say you have been.

Re: Okay, I get it now . . . - Posted by Mary-Oh

Posted by Mary-Oh on April 28, 2006 at 15:04:21:

How did you know, Joe? I can not believe I sat there and read the huge posting for nothing. Oh well, at least I enjoyed my Rum and Coke. Maria’s tenant, that was just plan wrong. Shame on you.

Yes and no - Posted by Maria’s tenant

Posted by Maria’s tenant on April 28, 2006 at 14:42:34:

I guess I can’t put myself in the other person’s shoes well enough to pull this off, but the events I described are essentially true. The only things that aren’t true are:

  1. I am not Maria, I am the tenant.
  2. We haven’t been to trial yet. With the latest “continuance”, that is scheduled for late May.

I do believe, however, that this is their game plan, to simply delay until they can sell and close, then disappear with the money. There’s no other reason I can see for the serial continuances. They were out of the country when I turned the keys over to their realtor, dealing (she said) with “family problems”, yet they still managed to make the trip to inspect the property 3 days later. The “medical tests” excuse just doesn’t fly with me – you can schedule those around the court date, with over a month’s advance notice, and when I saw the “can’t get off work that day” excuse last week, I knew they were just jerking my chain.

I haven’t actually parked my car in front of their house yet, but based on the responses I’ve seen here, I think I just might. Sure, they may slash my tires or sugar my gas tank, but I may be able to get them on video if they try it. I know I’m investing WAY too much of my time and thought in this – as everyone has pointed out, it’s only $2000 (well, maybe $6000 if I can prove “bad faith”), but the idea that someone would just flat out lie to steal money from me gets my fighting blood pumping. Honestly, attempting to inform prospective buyers about hidden problems in the property is the most innocuous response I’ve considered. My first impulse was to unlock the front door with a crowbar and inspect the place with a 5-pound sledgehammer. Once I calmed down a bit, I thought I might be satisfied just running a garden hose through their mail slot. I’m almost rational by this point.

The house is overpriced, even for our market, which is the real reason it hasn’t sold. I turned in the keys the second week in January, and the house appeared in the MLS the last week in February. The house next door, which also has a pool and much better curb appeal, is priced almost $100,000 less than theirs, and it hasn’t sold yet either. I honestly think they settled on the price by calculating how much they owe, and adding the half a million they can keep tax-free as husband and wife, because I really don’t see the comps to justify their asking price. They lowered the price by $10,000 last week, but it’s still at least $50K more than they can hope to get (in my opinion).

But I do think they may be planning to move out of the country after they sell the house (maybe to deal with those “family problems” they were telling me about in January), and their strategy does seem to be to delay so I can’t attach my judgment before the sale closes. I know I can’t record the judgment until after the 30 days they have to appeal passes, and I assume that means I can’t record it until the appeal is resolved. That MIGHT mean we’re looking at August or September, and I just have a feeling that they may find a greater fool, or come to their senses with regard to their asking price, before they let that deadline pass.

I don’t know for a fact that they WILL appeal – heck, at this point, I don’t even know for sure that I’ll win my judgment, even though I believe the law is on my side. Of the almost 50 items they listed as problems, almost half were pre-existing conditions, and we can document about half of those. The rest were normal wear and tear. They didn’t afford us a pre-moveout inspection, as (I now know) required by law, even though I requested it. They didn’t give us an itemized list of expenses, just an extensive list of “problems”. When I responded to the list of problems, they sent us their receipts for the carpet and the painting – that’s it. Because of the first delay in going to trial, I was able to stop by the house when a different realtor than the one I gave the keys to was conducting an open house one weekend, and most of the items on the list weren’t even addressed (I took pictures).

It may be that I’ll get a judgment, and just have to let it follow them around on their credit report for 10 years collecting interest, then hope I remember to renew it. But I don’t want to just roll over and take it, and I also don’t want to do anything that will really put my butt in a sling (i.e., propping a propane tank against their front door and using it for target practice). When we moved out, we stayed in the area, so I really could put a banner in my front window and brochures on my side windows and park my Truthmobile in front of their house. If the house doesn’t sell by November, they’ll lost their big tax break (i.e., they won’t have lived in the house 2 of the last 5 years).

Anyway, sorry about the deception, but I thought that was probably the best way to get some insight into what the owners might be able to do (within the law) if I do decide to fight back this way. I wasn’t just trolling, and I do appreciate the thoughts of everyone who took the time to respond.

Re: Okay, I get it now . . . - Posted by Joe Kaiser

Posted by Joe Kaiser on April 29, 2006 at 04:24:54:

Mary . . . it didn’t add up the first time through and I doubted it was real.
After the 2nd post, it clearly wasn’t, for certain.

I’m an investor . . . we do this sorting out stories thing all day long.


Re: Yes and no - Posted by natalie-VA

Posted by natalie-VA on May 01, 2006 at 08:38:50:

Maria’s tenant,

It’s my understanding that when when someone appeals a judgment, they have to pay the money into the court until the appeal is heard.