Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved

This is a discussion on Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved within the Landlord vs Tenant Issues forum, part of the REAL ESTATE & PROPERTY LAW category; recently my boyfriend and i moved out of a home he was renting from a "land lord" the "document" that ...

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Old Oct 1st, 2007, 07:55 PM   #1
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Angry Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved

recently my boyfriend and i moved out of a home he was renting from a "land lord" the "document" that my boyfriend signed was done on a legal note pad (mind you this a mortgage company that did this) it simply stated the terms of the agreement and the amount of rent. nothing more nothing less. when we decided to move because we knew we had to be out before sept. 30 2007 or we would have to sign another year long agreement, we left. my boyfriend numourus times tried to contact the "land lord" and got nothing back. so we moved. then 5 days after we were out and after many many phone calls and e-mails and left messages our "land lord" called playing dumb to the fact we had moved. now with the contract coming into play we asked to see it. it took three days for the request to be processed and at that when we recieved the "contract" it had been altered without notification to fit the situation at hand. the "land lord" is also trying to get upwards of $5000 from my boyfriend for general wear and tear of the house and for property damage that was already there before we moved in and for damages that he himself the land lord should have fixed (i.e a fallen over fence due to the fact it had rotted out of its orginal post and fell over). he is trying to do all of this knowing my boyfriend did not put a deposit down (the land lord didnt ask for one)and that the "contract / document" truly stated the first time before it was altered that he was only liable for the rent and the keep of the house during occupency. nothing about a 30 day notice nothing about a deposit and nothing saying that he would pay for all the damages done to the house while occupied (that was added the to contract after the fact with out notification and consent from my boyfriend) now that we are out of the house long before the lease was up he is trying to hit us with a 3 day pay or get notice and money for "damages" (the house was trash when my boyfriend moved in the "land lord" didnt do anything to up keep it himself)my boyfriend has even tried to call and say that he would go over and finish "cleaning" what was left and said he would make a trash run to the city dump to remove any "bulk trash" items that we left behind. i guess my question is does this"land lord" have a leg to stand? should we be sarting to look for a lawyer? or do we even need to worry? please let me know.
signed: pissed off and annoyed ex-tenant
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Old Oct 2nd, 2007, 08:46 AM   #2
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Default re: Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved

I'm afraid the LL does have a leg to stand on, as you put it. The required 30 day notice is likely a state law and does not have to be stated in your agreement. You would find this in the LL-Tenant law for your state. Nearly all states require a 30 day notice for a month to month tenant, and sometimes more notice is required of a tenant on a lease. Was your agreement written as a lease (with a start and an end date) or as a month to month agreement (lists monthly rent amount, but no end date)? There are a few states that require a shorter amount of notice. (You are responsible to know what the law is for your state. As they say, ignorance of the law is no excuse.) If you broke your lease (left before the end of it) you can be held liable for more costs. Please let me know which it was, so I can assess what you are responsible for and what should not be charged.

My guess is that you were required to give 30 days WRITTEN notice prior to moving out. If you are in a term state, you would have had to give this notice just before or on the day rent is due, or it wouldn't take effect until the next rent due date. (Also found in your state law.) BTW- any written agreement, even if written on plain paper, is legal as long as it is signed by both parties. Please post your state and I can tell you how much notice you were to have given.

The damages to the house are covered by law. All courts will hold you responsible for any damage you did to a unit beyond normal wear and tear. Normal W&T is only the natural deterioration of the place and its fixtures from normal, careful, and ordinary use by the number of people on the agreement for the period of time you lived there. Excessive dirt is not wear & tear. (A little dust would be.) Neither is leaving trash behind. He can charge you for these things. Exactly what charges did he list in the statement he sent you? I could tell you if each is w&t or damages.

I'm guessing that you had no move-in inspection, right? Nothing to show what the unit looked like when you took possession? So if you go to court protesting that the place was left cleaner than when you took possession, it will be your word vs. the LL's. He will come in with photos of what the place looked like when you left. (pictures of the bulk trash items left behind, etc.) The judge will know that these weren't there before you moved in. So at least on that point, you will lose. The LL is under no obligation to allow you access to the unit after you leave to go back and finish cleaning up your place. You are required to do that prior to leaving. You can be charged for whatever you failed to do once you are gone.

Unfortunately, you did not follow the law. You needed to give written notice to terminate your agreement and move out. You didn't do so. The LL will claim no knowledge of your intent. You have no proof you notified him. Phones records will only show you tried to call, e-mail and internet service providers can go down and then you don't get your e-mails. Besides, all judges know that email can be faked. It is not proof in court. So he can give a 3 day based on the fact that you did not notify him as required that you were moving. All he knows is that his rent was not paid and then he will evict. You will be held responsible for the rent for that notice period (the next 30 days) for failing to give proper notice unless the LL re-rents the unit during that time. If you were still under a lease, you can be responsible for rent until re-rented, advertising costs, unpaid utiltities that would have been your responsibility, and any other financial money he loses because of a lease break.

If you haven't verified it already, give him written notice immediately that you vacated on xx/xx date. (Before he pursues eviction.) Did you turn in your keys? If you haven't given them to him, do it now! As long as you have those, you are in possession and still owe rent. Having keys is considered to be in possession of the unit. Courts will hold you liable for rent until you return them. Please post answers to some of the questions I have asked here, and I can tell you more about how much you need to worry about this.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2007, 08:52 AM   #3
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Default re: Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved

Good answer!!

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Old Oct 2nd, 2007, 02:08 PM   #4
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Angry re: Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved

THE PROBLEM WITH THIS IS WAS WHEN .. WELL LET ME START OVER HERE... THE LL IS ACTUALLY A FAMILY MEMBER OF MY BOYFRIENDS AND MY BOYFRIEND ORIGINALLY BAUGHT THE HOUSE FROM THE UNCLE...AT THIS TIME HE WAS AN OWNER OF THE HOME...PAYING EACH MONTH TO HIS UNCLES MORTAGAGE COMPANY..SOMETHING HAPPEND AND WAS UNABLE TO KEEP THE HOUSE..HIS UNCLE THEN BAOUGHT IT BACK FROM HIM AND MADE IT A "RENTAL" THE SO CALLED DAMAGES DONE WERE DONE BEFORE I MOVED IN AND I WAS IN THE UNDERSTANDING THAT THEY HAPPEND AS HE WAS THE OWNER. I DO UNDERSTAND THAT A SIGNED DOCUMENT IS LEGALLY BINDING.. I WASNT DOUBTING THAT. MY QUESTION TO YOU IS THE FACT THAT HE CHANGED IT TO FIT THE SITUATION AT HAND AFTER IT HAD ALREADY BEEN SIGNED ALMOST 9 MONTHS PRIOR..AND THAT THERE WAS NO PRE MOVE IN INSPECTION THERE WAS NO DEPOSIT AND THE FACT HE WOULD NOT RETURN EMAILS PHONE CALLS WOULDNT TALK BOUT IT AT FAMILY FUNCTIONS NOTHING! COMPLETELY PLAID DUMB TO THE WHOLE THING. AND I BELIEVE I STATED MY BOYFRIEND EVEN SAID HE WOULD GO OVER AND HANDLE THE WORK THAT NEEDED TO BE DONE. BUT ALSO ON THAT NOTE THE THINGS ARE SO CALLED BROKEN AND DAMAGED WERE DONE SO AND FELL APART BEFORE MOVE IN AND DURING THE TIME OF RENTING AND THAT I BELIEVE SHOULD BE THE LANDLORDS RESPONSIBILTY...WE DIDNT LET THE FENCE ROTT WE DIDNT LET THE BACKYARD GO FOR 3+ YEARS WITHOUT BEING LANDSCAPED..WE DIDNT LET THE AIR CONDITIONER BRAKE..THE HOUSE WAS A DUMP AND FALLING APRAT WHEN MY BOYFRIEND MOVED IN.. MY QUESTION AT THIS POINT IS THE DOCUMENT STILL BINDING AND LEGAL EVEN THOUGH IT WAS ALTERED WITHOUT NOTFICATION AND ALL THE CHARGES HE IS TRYING TO GET OUT OF US FOR STUFF THAT WE HAD NO CONRTOL OVER.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2007, 10:09 PM   #5
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Default re: Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved

If the uncle sold the house to your BF, did they sign an agreement? File it with the court to record the new owner? Did the BF make a down payment? Or did the BF just take over paying the mortgage company for the uncle? If he just took over paying the mortgage and an agreement, a quit claim deed, or other type of deed was never recorded, it was not a legal sale. Did he have a rent to own agreement? (That's what a court might consider this.) When he could no longer keep up the payments, he forfeited his right to buy the house. (Did the uncle pay the BF a down payment, sign new sale papers, record a new deed, when he "bought" the property back?) Or did he just say he was "taking" the property back.

You don't own a house until you have officially signed sale documents, have a new deed done, and get funding arranged (as in a mortgage, or an owner carried-back mortgage) to take any financial responsibility from the previous owner. Since the BF only took over paying the mortgage that the uncle was still liable for, and if no paperwork was filed with a government office (recorded), there was no official sale. I don't think any court would uphold this as anything more than a rent to own agreement without the required documents. The uncle was still financially liable for the house the entire time the BF lived there. And since the BF couldn't follow through on buying the house, the owner still continued to rent to him. Paying the money to the mortgage company instead of to the LL directly can still be considered rent.

The BF is not liable for rotten fence posts. That is not his damage. But he will probably be held liable for any damage to the house for the period of time he lived in it. He won't be considered an owner of the house if none of the paperwork was done. Sorry. The BF will still be responsible for the rent for the required notice period since he failed to give proper notice. He needs to return the keys immediately if he still has them. I'm sorry that your BF trusted a relative. But without a move-in or move-out inspection, this will be very difficult. Your BF will have to try to find someone who can testify, or write a statement, about the condition of the property when he moved in so those prior damages can be challenged if this goes to court. As for leaving the house with trash in it, the BF should have known better. You never do that in any rental, even a relative's. The uncle has no obligation to let him back in to clean it now.

As for the agreement alterations, does he have a copy to show that it was altered after he signed it? Still this will hardly matter. The notification period and the fact that he (or any tenant) is liable for damages done to a unit they live in is a state law. It doesn't have to be in the agreement to make him liable for these things. State law *requires* him to give this notice and pay for damages. Unless there was something else added in that agreement after the signature, these two issues are already addressed by law and are moot.

You best bet is to go through the bill he sent the BF and look at it item by item. If it is not itemized, the BF should ask for an itemized bill. Then challenge each item (find evidence to support your view) in a letter to the uncle. Send the challenge letter by certified mail, return receipt requested. Keep a copy. If he has already given the BF an itemization, please post the items and I can tell you either how you may be able to challenge them or if they are wear & tear and are not charges he can bill you for.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 03:46 PM   #6
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Cool re: Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved

unfortunantly there was no written agreement other than that my bf would bay x amount of $ for 1 year then it would go up x amount of $ should he choose to stay. really this is all due to the fact that the uncles mortgage company isnt doing so well and my bf was his last tenent left an any of his rentals because he was pulling the same stuff with other renters in the past. and also with other family members as well. the guy is just a ratfink. thank you for your time and honesty. currently my boyfriend does not have keys but was given the combo. to the door lock box and has been given the chance to clean up a little more. so the dust is starting to settle and i think he is working things out with the uncle. sadly there will be no relationship left to salvage after this but atleast he has learned a lesson...you never know who you can trust..even if its family. thanks again you have a realy help.
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Old Oct 3rd, 2007, 06:51 PM   #7
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Default re: Land lord playing dumb to the fact we had moved

If he is being allowed back in to continue to clean, make sure to take dated photos when he is done, in case this starts all over again. Then you will have proof of how clean it was left. Document this to protect yourself. You can do this with one of those disposable cameras and put the headline/date of the local paper in the first photo. Then if you need them, you can just develop them later. CYA!
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