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How can I dispute charges from a previous landlord after the account has been sent to

This is a discussion on How can I dispute charges from a previous landlord after the account has been sent to within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; Seattle, WA My previous landlord charged me $300 in cleaning fees beyond my security deposit. I wrote back to dispute ...

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Old Jan 12th, 2010, 07:28 PM   #1
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Default How can I dispute charges from a previous landlord after the account has been sent to

Seattle, WA

My previous landlord charged me $300 in cleaning fees beyond my security deposit. I wrote back to dispute some charges & request receipts for others. Their response described the work, but did not include receipts. Now the account is in collections. I have three questions:

*Is the landlord required to provide contractor receipts for additional charges?

*Can I dispute individual charges with the collection agency or do I have to pay them off & take the landlord to small claims?

*I do not have pictures of the unit, but had a third party inspect it with me. We signed a statement of its condition & he will come to court with me to dispute some of their claims. I have a checklist of the cleaning I did & a signed 'receipt' for a carpet shampooer I borrowed. Does it seem these things would not hold up very well as evidence?

Any and all advice is appreciated. Thank you for reading.
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Old Jan 13th, 2010, 10:01 AM   #2
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Default Re: How can I dispute charges from a previous landlord after the account has been sen

*Is the landlord required to provide contractor receipts for additional charges?
Only once you get to court. You can ask in the hearing for the proof of the charges against your deposit. He is not required to send them with the deposit itemization in your state.

*Can I dispute individual charges with the collection agency or do I have to pay them off & take the landlord to small claims?
You can dispute the entire amount (not individual line items) with the collections agency. Write a letter to them that the debt is in dispute. State that you are in the process of settling this matter with the LL. Ask that they stop all collection efforts until this dispute has been resolved. Send it certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy of the letter. Consumer credit laws require that they stop collection efforts on any items in dispute until you have time to try to resolve the matter. Hopefully the letter you sent to the LL disputed each charge individually.

*I do not have pictures of the unit, but had a third party inspect it with me. We signed a statement of its condition & he will come to court with me to dispute some of their claims. I have a checklist of the cleaning I did & a signed 'receipt' for a carpet shampooer I borrowed. Does it seem these things would not hold up very well as evidence?
Who signed a condition statement? You and a third party? You and a LL representative? Something you signed by yourself will hold no merit. It shows no agreement on the LL's part as to the condition. If a LL representative signed it, it will. You can bring the third party to court to testify to the condition of the unit. (If this is a friend or relative, his testimony will be judged as such.) It is always best to have a third party who is not a friend or relative as a witness. But a friend is better than no one. Dated photos are the best form of evidence. A list of cleaning that you did doesn't prove how well you did that cleaning. Carpet cleaners that you rent or borrow don't do as good a job as professional steam cleaning companies. They don't have the suction or heat that those professional machines have. It would show you made an effort, but wouldn't prove that the carpets were completely clean. It would have benefited you to take photos. You need to show that each item was cleaned to a reasonable state. It has to be left in the same condition as you received it less normal wear & tear. Dispute each item on the deposit statement individually, telling why you don't owe for that charge, or showing why you don't owe that amount. Good luck.
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