Question

What do you do if you're former landlord claims false damages?

I'm in Ohio, and I just got my deposit back from my previous landlord who took out over $250 of false damage charges. The day we were moving out, the landlord barged into our house begging us to let her show it (even saying "this looks perfect!"). Then she charged us for mold in the shower that wasn't never there, missing light bulbs when every socket had a working bulb, "rusted" drip pans on the stove when the stove is over 10 years old, and even a carpet cleaning when we already cleaned the carpets! The only proof of damages she gave us was a bill from the carpet cleaner - which was listed for another address!

When we called her she said all the charges were right, she just sent the wrong bill - but it was for the exact same amount (sounds fishy to me), and that everything else was true too. We have video of the house when we moved, there are no rug stains or mold in the shower as she claims and no where in our lease does it say that we have to get the carpets steam cleaned before moving out.

6 years ago - 5 answers

Best Answer

Chosen by Asker

No your landlord cannot charge you for mold in the shower, light bulbs or rusty drip pans that would cost $12 to replace. A security deposit is for damages done to the unit, broken doors, windows, holes in the wall, torn and damaged carpet (not wear and tear) she needed to provide you with an itemized list and receipts to show the cost of repair. Good for you for taking video of the place before you left, which means you have proof that the place was in good condition when you moved out, most people don't do that, HOWEVER, it is also important that you do a final inspection walk thru with the LL the day you move out so that you can discuss any items she feels are in need of repair and "fix" them before you leave (light bulbs and drip pans would have been $20) a little bit of elbow grease and some ZX14 would have handled the mold issue in the tub. Besides, cleaning the apartment you are not obligated to do and falls under normal wear and tear and unless the LL had to do something extraordinary to clean the place she cannot charge you. You can sue your LL to get back your security deposit and if you win the LL has to pay you "double" what she took out including your court costs etc...see below. A little trick I learned, when you move into a new place, wrap the drip pans in foil, when the foil gets dirty replace, it will keep the drip pans clean so that when you move out you simply remove the foil.

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TENANT ISSUES
Security Deposits -- Ohio's Landlord-Tenant law establishes a detailed procedure concerning the return of security deposits. The Court of Appeals in Cincinnati has outlined some of the dangers when a landlord does not meet all of the requirements with precision. Nolan v. Sutton, 97 Ohio App. 3d 616 (Ham. Co. 1994).

In this case, the tenant sued the landlord for retaining her security deposit. The landlord had kept $40 of the $460 security deposit. The landlord sent $420 to the tenant, along with a "transmittal" form showing that $40 had been withheld for "cleaning." After the tenant sued, the trial court ordered the landlord to pay $80 in double damages and $500 in attorney fees to the tenant. The Appeals Court upheld the award.

Under the Landlord-Tenant law, deductions can be made to a security deposit for (a) noncompliance with a tenant's statutory obligations, and (b) noncompliance with the lease requirements. Any security deposit deduction must be itemized. If the landlord does not comply with the statute's requirements, double the amount wrongfully withheld can be awarded to the tenant, plus reasonable attorney fees. Section 5321.16, Ohio Revised Code. In this case, the Court held that the itemization of "$40-cleaning" was not sufficient to meet the landlord's obligation. (The sufficiency of the itemization is determined as of the time it is sent, and not on the basis of any later clarification.) The reason that this itemization was insufficient was that it did not differentiate between cleaning due to ordinary wear and tear (for which the tenant had no obligation) and something extraordinary.


Good luck

Source(s):

6 years ago

Other Answers

Sounds as if you may want to go to small claims court to get the rest of your deposit back if you have documentation that you left the place in good order.

by ☼AstrologerJuliAnne☼ - 6 years ago

I had a similar thing happen to me, and found I was really screwed because it was the landlord's word against mine. The lesson for the future is to do a walk-thru with the landlord prior to leaving and have the landlord sign a statement saying the condition was acceptable. Your only recourse is probably small claims court, and that probably will be a hard case to win. You might check with your city govt. to see if any complaints have been filed by past tenants against your landlord for similar shenanigans. If so, that will help your case if you decide to sue in small claims. At minimum, you should file a complaint with the city.

by hal9000 - 6 years ago

I would def. file for small claims court and like above said- she can't charge for mold and light bulbs and half that stuff.

by Bubbles - 6 years ago

As a landlord, I can tell you this one is wrong.
She must be able to prove her damages in court.
Sure, you can take her to court, but collecting is the issue.
Landlords like this give us a bad name.
She must be a little landlord, cheap and dishonest at best.
While I agree with you, going to court and then collecting from her is your problem.

by GWB - 6 years ago