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Sit down with my landlords...OOH DRAMA

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
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I don't know if any of you turds remember my previous thread (I deleted it according to our then legal strategy) but my landlords "decided" they would take and keep my security deposit after moving out of our previous rental. They gave us a list of reasons they were keeping the deposit, but failed to abide by our state law that says they must provide an itemized list and sign it under penalty of perjury. Their reasons were bull****, including refinishing the entire floor, and replacing the entire countertop for a pair of stains, and replacing blinds that they didn't actually replace.

Anyways, we contacted a lawyer and he said to wait the period of time they are given by law to comply with it, and then send them a letter demanding our money back. If they don't comply with the law (they didnt') we can sue them for 3 times the deposit, and they can't argue that we caused damage (yay).

Anyways, we sent the letter, and they responded this week and offered to meet in person to discuss coming to an agreement. What should I expect when we meet with them? I believe the law is on our side, but I've never been to small claims court, and our lawyer told us that it's likely not going to be 0%/100%, but rather some sort of negotiation and I may not get what I'm expecting. All I really want is my deposit back plus interest, less reasonable deductions for damage we actually caused (even though they put us through all the crap, I really just want to be done with it.). What should I be prepared for? What could they pull that might catch us off guard? I don't know whether they're bringing a lawyer, but we aren't, and we'll walk away if they try to bring one. Can I say anything that might get me in trouble, or indict me for damage or violations that we didn't cause?

Sorry to write the essay, but I'm normally pretty trusting of people's good nature, and it sucks that they tried to take advantage of us. I'm hoping we can put this matter to bed, but I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by demanding one thing or acting in a manner that I think is reasonable, but might be legally incorrect.
 

X3pilot

Texans fan - LOL
Aug 13, 2007
5,860
1
SoMD
If they will consider giving you half your security deposit back, take it and go home.
 

OGRipper

back alley ripper
Feb 3, 2004
10,248
689
NORCAL is the hizzle
Start by telling them you are willing to back off on the suit for 3X if they refund the ENTIRE deposit. From there, offer to reduce it by the amount of damage you caused. Your final offer would be 50%. Be happy if you get that, treat anything more as a bonus, and get on with your life.

PS, I'm not a renter anymore but I always counted on my landlord keeping at least 1/2 my deposits. Think of it as a little additional rent spread it out over life of your lease.
 
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jdcamb

Tool Time!
Feb 17, 2002
17,855
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Nowhere Man!
This I know. No court in MA will ever side with the landlord atleast in Suffolk county. Even in cases of obvious destruction judges and juries have for the most part sided with the tennant in eatern MA. Ask any landlord. My friends work for Kellton Realty in Allston JP and Roslindale. She says they are just going through the motions to scare you into paying. She says the one thing to worry about is if they recieve judgement against you for some unseen condition, then thats a strike against your credit for 7 years. She said that it can take 8 months to evict someone for non payment of Rent in Middlesex county.
 

bean

Turbo Monkey
Feb 16, 2004
1,335
0
Boulder
At this point I would settle for nothing less than the full deposit plus interest. But that's easy to say from this side of the internet with no money involved.
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
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Start by telling them you are willing to back off on the suit for 3X if they refund the ENTIRE deposit. From there, offer to reduce it by the amount of damage you caused. Your final offer would be 50%. Be happy if you get that, treat anything more as a bonus, and get on with your life.

PS, I'm not a renter anymore but I always counted on my landlord keeping at least 1/2 my deposits. Think of it as a little additional rent spread it out over life of your lease.
I think that's my plan of attack. I have a minimum number in my mind that i'll walk away for, but it's not half. The damage that we caused, if any, represents less than 10% of the total of the security deposit. We'll gladly give them that to be done with this mess. If they have some sort of convincing argument for the remainder, we'll listen, but the laws are set up to protect us, not them. They've also sold the house already, and are amateur house flippers, so most of the work they threatened to do, they won't have receipts for. Laws around here say that if we have to pursue litigation to get our deposit back, we're entitled to 3x it, and they have to file a separate suit in order to get anything back. They won't be able to prove that we caused this damage, should they file their own suit, so I'm not overly worried....but still.

This I know. No court in MA will ever side with the landlord atleast in Suffolk county. Even in cases of obvious destruction judges and juries have for the most part sided with the tennant in eatern MA. Ask any landlord. My friends work for Kellton Realty in Allston JP and Roslindale. She says they are just going through the motions to scare you into paying. She says the one thing to worry about is if they recieve judgement against you for some unseen condition, then thats a strike against your credit for 7 years. She said that it can take 8 months to evict someone for non payment of Rent in Middlesex county.
This is my understanding too, which is why I have a larger degree of confidence in threatening triple damages than I probably should. The fact that they responded so quickly after we sent them our letter encourages me that they want to be done with this too. Did you actually speak to her about what I posted, or is this just from memory/other cases? What unseen condition are you talking about?

I'm hoping we can just come to a mutually beneficial and reasonable conclusion, where they get paid for work they actually did and damage we may have actually caused, and quit playing this ****ing game.
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
18,144
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01776
your stories make me want to kill myself with a plastic spork
trust me, dealing with these pricks has made me want to kill myself with a plastic spork too.

Hopefully I get my cash back, or we go off to court and get three times my cash, and then we ****ing party hard.
 

Scrub

Turbo Monkey
Feb 4, 2003
1,434
57
NOR CAL, Sac/CoCo County
Settle it by either:

Arm wrestling
Scissor Paper Rock
Stare off
A gun duel


But I like OGRipper's idea. Or, when you show up have a buddy dress up in a suit with a briefcase come with you and when you start negotiating have "buddy" excuse himself for an "important call" and then do your thing with the landlord. This only if he doesn't come with a lawyer. If he has one turn and burn.
 

Da Peach

Outwitted by a rodent
Jul 2, 2002
13,201
3,287
North Van
This I know. No court in MA will ever side with the landlord atleast in Suffolk county. Even in cases of obvious destruction judges and juries have for the most part sided with the tennant in eatern MA. Ask any landlord. My friends work for Kellton Realty in Allston JP and Roslindale. She says they are just going through the motions to scare you into paying. She says the one thing to worry about is if they recieve judgement against you for some unseen condition, then thats a strike against your credit for 7 years. She said that it can take 8 months to evict someone for non payment of Rent in Middlesex county.

Hoooooooooooooooooold on a second here....



...




You have friends?
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
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I'm fairly certain I'll be recording it, but I wasn't sure whether to tell them or not. I understand it's inappropriate to record somebody without their knowledge, but if it's court I'm not sure it matters.
 

syadasti

i heart mac
Apr 15, 2002
12,691
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VT

jonKranked

Detective Dookie
Nov 10, 2005
71,412
13,713
media blackout
I'm fairly certain I'll be recording it, but I wasn't sure whether to tell them or not. I understand it's inappropriate to record somebody without their knowledge, but if it's court I'm not sure it matters.
If you are a party in the conversation its legal as long as its not used for blackmail or fraud.

Federal Court Rules Recording Your Own Conversations Ok As Long As It's Not For A Crime - The Consumerist
laws vary state to state. some states both parties need to consent, others its only one party.

also helps if you are in a public place where there is no expectation of privacy.
 

DirtMcGirk

<b>WAY</b> Dumber than N8 (to the power of ten alm
Feb 21, 2008
6,411
1
Oz
Ok weekend warriors...

1. Using your 3x lawsuit as a lever constitutes extortion. Pretty please tell me you haven't used that card yet. Otherwise, you got a bad day coming.

2. Even where you are, the courts will side with the landlord. Just how it is everywhere.

3. Your attorney is right, you're not going to get exactly what you want here. Its not about "feeling right" its about everyone loosing something. No one really gets made whole in the civil process.

4. If they have a lawyer, and you don't at the meeting, walk away with nothing more than being polite.
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
18,144
2,298
01776
Ok weekend warriors...

1. Using your 3x lawsuit as a lever constitutes extortion. Pretty please tell me you haven't used that card yet. Otherwise, you got a bad day coming.

2. Even where you are, the courts will side with the landlord. Just how it is everywhere.

3. Your attorney is right, you're not going to get exactly what you want here. Its not about "feeling right" its about everyone loosing something. No one really gets made whole in the civil process.

4. If they have a lawyer, and you don't at the meeting, walk away with nothing more than being polite.
whoa there lawdog,

1) What the **** are you talking about with extortion? I've threatened them with litigation if they don't give me a reasonable response to my demand letter, which is in accordance to the consumer protection act. If they don't give me a reasonable response, I can take them to court, and should I have to do so, I can take them to court for 3x the security deposit, and they cannot counterclaim for damage at that time. I'm not asking them for any moneys besides what is outlined in the security deposit law, which is my security deposit plus 5% interest. I'd be happy to point out each law, chapter, and subsection that they have violated and I am using to get my money back if you would like, but not on a public forum.

2) I'm not so sure. First off, I'm inclined to believe that a magistrate will be impartial, as that's part of his job. Secondly, I've heard multiple accounts that courts in my state have a tendency to side with the tenants. In fact, many lawyers who run advice websites recommend that landlords do not even accept security deposits, as there are so many pitfalls to the law that more often than not they lose, and wind up owing even more.

3) I don't "feel right" about anything. I feel confident that should we have to go to court, I will be awarded an amount equal to or more than I would be awarded if we have to settle out of court. However, I'd have to go to court in order to do that. There may be pitfalls that we violated that we are unaware of and they may exploit. The magistrate may be having a bad day. I may have to wait six months to get a court date. They may never pay. All of this is why I want to meet with them and come to a reasonable agreement that will get me most of my money back, and give them an appropriate value that they're comfortable with.

There's no extortion or anything of the sort going on on my end. They sent an email claiming multiple damages which they did not repair, and then they sold the house. They did not provide us with receipts as required by the statute. I'm not trying to take their money, only trying to get my own back, which they did not rightfully nor legally withhold. Maybe I don't know what extortion means, but regardless, it's legal in this state, as I am operating exactly as the CPL and security deposit law outlines.
 

jdcamb

Tool Time!
Feb 17, 2002
17,855
5,652
Nowhere Man!
whoa there lawdog,

1) What the **** are you talking about with extortion? I've threatened them with litigation if they don't give me a reasonable response to my demand letter, which is in accordance to the consumer protection act. If they don't give me a reasonable response, I can take them to court, and should I have to do so, I can take them to court for 3x the security deposit, and they cannot counterclaim for damage at that time. I'm not asking them for any moneys besides what is outlined in the security deposit law, which is my security deposit plus 5% interest. I'd be happy to point out each law, chapter, and subsection that they have violated and I am using to get my money back if you would like, but not on a public forum.

2) I'm not so sure. First off, I'm inclined to believe that a magistrate will be impartial, as that's part of his job. Secondly, I've heard multiple accounts that courts in my state have a tendency to side with the tenants. In fact, many lawyers who run advice websites recommend that landlords do not even accept security deposits, as there are so many pitfalls to the law that more often than not they lose, and wind up owing even more.

3) I don't "feel right" about anything. I feel confident that should we have to go to court, I will be awarded an amount equal to or more than I would be awarded if we have to settle out of court. However, I'd have to go to court in order to do that. There may be pitfalls that we violated that we are unaware of and they may exploit. The magistrate may be having a bad day. I may have to wait six months to get a court date. They may never pay. All of this is why I want to meet with them and come to a reasonable agreement that will get me most of my money back, and give them an appropriate value that they're comfortable with.

There's no extortion or anything of the sort going on on my end. They sent an email claiming multiple damages which they did not repair, and then they sold the house. They did not provide us with receipts as required by the statute. I'm not trying to take their money, only trying to get my own back, which they did not rightfully nor legally withhold. Maybe I don't know what extortion means, but regardless, it's legal in this state, as I am operating exactly as the CPL and security deposit law outlines.



I was never so happy as the day we sold our Building in Somerville MA and washed our hands of the whole Landlord business.
 

OGRipper

back alley ripper
Feb 3, 2004
10,248
689
NORCAL is the hizzle
What's the "bad day coming"? It's not extortion, it's a legit threat based on his understanding of the law. The landlord is free to check it out and take his chances with a lawsuit, or return all or part of the deposit. There is risk to the extent the landlord thinks it's a bluff and calls him on it, but that's about it. I suppose there is an outside chance of losing in court and having to pay the landlord's fees, but it's pretty unlikely it would ever go that far.
 

DirtMcGirk

<b>WAY</b> Dumber than N8 (to the power of ten alm
Feb 21, 2008
6,411
1
Oz
whoa there lawdog,

1) What the **** are you talking about with extortion? I've threatened them with litigation if they don't give me a reasonable response to my demand letter, which is in accordance to the consumer protection act. If they don't give me a reasonable response, I can take them to court, and should I have to do so, I can take them to court for 3x the security deposit, and they cannot counterclaim for damage at that time. I'm not asking them for any moneys besides what is outlined in the security deposit law, which is my security deposit plus 5% interest. I'd be happy to point out each law, chapter, and subsection that they have violated and I am using to get my money back if you would like, but not on a public forum.
Extortion(also called shakedown, outwresting, and exaction) is a criminal offence which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person(s), entity, or institution, through coercion.

You'd be guilty of coercion here. You're saying "give me my money or I am going to take you for 3 times that amount, so its in your best interest to give me what I want otherwise I am going to go after you in court for 3x the amount." It becomes extortion the instant you make money in the deal. Trust me on this, I have had more than a few clients slapped around by the judicial system for just this. It can also be cited by their lawyer as misuse of process. You can't use the threat of litigation in this manner to affect your result. While you might just see it as telling them what you're going to do, I promise you that even a first week civil defense lawyer is going to throw a lot of case law at you stating that what you've done is nothing more than legal strong arming their client.

You're trying to make yourself out to be the good guy here, and as such if you go about using heavy handed tactics, it erodes your case.

2) I'm not so sure. First off, I'm inclined to believe that a magistrate will be impartial, as that's part of his job. Secondly, I've heard multiple accounts that courts in my state have a tendency to side with the tenants. In fact, many lawyers who run advice websites recommend that landlords do not even accept security deposits, as there are so many pitfalls to the law that more often than not they lose, and wind up owing even more.
I've done this sort of law in a few places now. They are going to be more inclined a lot of the time to believe that there is some damage that is part of living there that you, the tenant, are responsible for.

3) I don't "feel right" about anything. I feel confident that should we have to go to court, I will be awarded an amount equal to or more than I would be awarded if we have to settle out of court. However, I'd have to go to court in order to do that. There may be pitfalls that we violated that we are unaware of and they may exploit. The magistrate may be having a bad day. I may have to wait six months to get a court date. They may never pay. All of this is why I want to meet with them and come to a reasonable agreement that will get me most of my money back, and give them an appropriate value that they're comfortable with.

There's no extortion or anything of the sort going on on my end. They sent an email claiming multiple damages which they did not repair, and then they sold the house. They did not provide us with receipts as required by the statute. I'm not trying to take their money, only trying to get my own back, which they did not rightfully nor legally withhold. Maybe I don't know what extortion means, but regardless, it's legal in this state, as I am operating exactly as the CPL and security deposit law outlines.

What's "legal" and what it appears to be are often two very different things. You can tell the landlord whatever you want, but the truth is that just like in a criminal proceeding, "whatever you say can and will be used against you in a court of law." While the burden of proof is much lower in a civil procedure, i.e. the OJ Simpson civil case, if you're trying to push the landlord out of court into an agreement that is not in their best interest, there is always going to be a lawyer willing to take an hourly rate with the intent of making sure you don't see anything.

I'm just offering you some friendly advice. If you choose to take it or not is up to you.
 

CrabJoe StretchPants

Reincarnated Crab Walking Head Spinning Bruce Dick
Nov 30, 2003
13,609
1,912
Groton, MA
Seemingly small but important thing to consider: have you actually come up with a value of fixing/repairing/replacing what was legitimately damaged, and comparing that to what your security deposit is? I would think replacing the countertop alone would be several hundred dollars......not sure what your SD is.
 

jonKranked

Detective Dookie
Nov 10, 2005
71,412
13,713
media blackout
dirt - i don't think sammich is threatening to get 3xtimes what he's owed, just that he will be taking the landlord to court if he doesn't get the money he's legally entitled to: his security deposit - damages, which is what he's asking for in the first place
 

Sandwich

Pig my fish!
Staff member
May 23, 2002
18,144
2,298
01776
Extortion
I'm just offering you some friendly advice. If you choose to take it or not is up to you.


well, I'm going to go ahead and choose not to take it. Considering that the example demand letter the state provides uses 3x the deposit as a DEMAND, and not even threatens it, and that the example demand letter also says exactly that they may be liable for 3x damages in a court of law, I'm inclined to believe it. The whole idea here, as set forth by the law, is that the landlord is on the hook for damages should they not obey the law. The damages are "a carrot, used to get them to obey the law or settle without litigation if they don't" as described by my lawyer.

I appreciate your input, but based on his recommendations and the actual state law, I'm going to go ahead and go with the state law. Maybe it's different wherever you have practiced, but in plain English, the law here states that the demand letter is actually used to inform the landlord that we have the right to sue for three times damages should they not return the deposit. I am not worried.