Posted by Frank Chin on August 21, 2003 at 08:55:31:
Do you do things the easy way or the hard way??
First, doing everything verbally is a NO NO in the Landlording business. You mentioned the prospect completed a rental application. My application has a deposit agreement as a part of it. Does yours have one??
As for knowing the law, it depends on the jursidiction and how tenant friendly it is. Here in NY, lawyers tell me, the outcome of cases depends on the mood of the judge that day.
So my point is, here in NY, even lawyers knowing the law wind up guessing.
I learned in the Landlording business, or any business, its sometimes counterproductice to try to make the extra nickle. I give myself 30 days to rent out a place, and if the first guy falls through, and I have to advertise another week and rent it out again as of the 15th, I’m still ahead of the game. In the past, when the market was slow here, I have advertised up to 3 weeks to have a place rented.
So what if you’re right. If they come back suing you, and you have to spend time and effort to go to court and argue the case, the amount of money involved for 15 days is not worth the effort IMHO.
Give the money back, and have a deposit agreement done in writing the next time.
Besides rentals, I also own a auto repair, tire retail & wholesale business. Not long ago, a customer claimed a tire repair was done improperly, and he wanted the cost of a tow plus a brand new tire. My manager got into a big fight with him, and basically said take me to court, saying that there’s legally no proof.
The customer finally spoke with me. I overruled the manager, authorized a new tire, and wrote him a check on the spot for $130.00. The deal cost us $200.00
I explained to the manager that the customer could have easily gone to some doctor, fake injuries, and sued for much much more. He had a blowout and a police report.
The customer was so happy that he was back several weeks later, and we more than made back the $200.00. At that point, the manager, a little miffed at being overruled, was pleasantly surprised, and agreed that I did the right thing.
On the other hand, the previously owners of the place, the people that I bought the place from, decided to go to court instead of settling a minor dispute with a customer. A tire fell off a car several weeks after the purchase of the new tire. The customer found an ambulance chasing lawyer file a “one million dollar” lawsuit against them.
Somehow, they expected the insurance company to handle matters. The insurance company dropped the ball, and now they have a “one million” dollar default judgment against them.
Conclusion. Its sometime easy to say “sue me” than to look at the bigger picture.