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Old 09-08-2010, 11:06 PM   #1
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Default Need some legal help.

I'm having some problems with my landlord. I signed a lease on a house with 3 other people about 3 months ago. This lease was supposed to be for a year. I paid $575.00 for my portion of the security deposit and a down deposit for the water. I paid rent for three months with the utility bills. He is refusing to return my deposit because he says it cost him exactly $575.00 to place signs, return e-mails and take calls to find a new person. The house isn't damaged in anyway and everything was payed for by check from my parents. Can he legally withhold the security deposit? The lease he sent me back had a few sentences highlighted.

"If tenant does not take occupancy of said unit other than unit not being ready of occupancy, security deposit will be forfeited. Tenant will also be responsible for the rent of said unit until landlord can re-rent it."

"If tenant vacates property before the end of the lease term, they are liable for the balance of rent due to landlord during the remainder of the lease term. Tenant shall further remain liable for such other damages sustained by the landlord due to tenant breach of lease and/or tenants termination of possession of the premises as long as such liability is not expressly prohibited applicable law. Such other damages shall include, but are not limited to, costs incurred in recovering possession of the premises (such as rental commissions, administrative expenses and advertising expenses) utility costs for the premises while same remain vacant, and costs incurred in redecorating the premises"

He also sent me this list. Not everything had a specific price on it, but just a general list with total owed, $575.00 at the bottom.

1. Labor paid to our maintenance personnel for placing rental signs at several of our properties in an attempt to generate phone calls. Time included picking up signs from storage, posting the signs at the properties, retrieving them after the lease was signed and then picking them back up to be placed back into the storage.
2. Landlord's time spent meeting and showing the property to prospective roommates.
3. Labor paid to our office staff for sending e-mails, responding to e-mails and handling telephone calls regarding the property.
4. Labor paid to process applications, meeting with prospective roommates to explain the lease agreement, typing of necessary paperwork and sending the documents to parents.
5. Cost of postage for mailing the documents to parents.

Total charges on account: $575.00
Total credits on account: $575.00
Less Total Charges on Account: $575.00

Total Amount Due to Tenants From The Landlord: $0.00

I don't understand how the labor costs for him equal my EXACT amount of the security deposit. Something smells really fishy to me and I want to know what I can legally do. From what I read on Maryland law, he has to state the exact cost of every single labor cost individually. I did technically live there for a couple of days. I just want my money back because I find this to be unfair and unjust. I think the labor and advertising costs are outrageous.
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: Need some legal help.

I think I"m missing something. Are you leaving the lease early?
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Old 09-08-2010, 11:53 PM   #3
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Default Re: Need some legal help.

"If tenant vacates property before the end of the lease term, they are liable for the balance of rent due to landlord during the remainder of the lease term. Tenant shall further remain liable for such other damages sustained by the landlord due to tenant breach of lease and/or tenants termination of possession of the premises as long as such liability is not expressly prohibited applicable law. Such other damages shall include, but are not limited to, costs incurred in recovering possession of the premises (such as rental commissions, administrative expenses and advertising expenses) utility costs for the premises while same remain vacant, and costs incurred in redecorating the premises"

If you break a rental agreement in most states your are breaking a legal and binding contract. You get the short end of the stick. You put your John Hancock on the bottom of it and now you want out. I always show any contract to a lawyer first. A few bucks invested there will save you a lot of grief later on like you're going through now.
Talk to a lawyer. We're not lawyers here so what we say means less than zero. But yeah you're right, something stinks.
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Old 09-09-2010, 12:31 AM   #4
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Default Re: Need some legal help.

In Australia if you break a lease early the rental agent can legally make you pay the rent owing to cover the time period of rest of the lease. I broke a lease 2 weeks early once and had to pay that rent.
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Old 09-09-2010, 11:22 AM   #5
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Default Re: Need some legal help.

you are all correct, but are missing some important information.

if you sign a lease, and then break early you are liable for the rest of the money to rent.

lets say your rent is $100 pcm,
you stay for three months, then leave.

and the landlord DOES NOT let the house, then you owe the landlord $900 over the course of the rest of the year.


now say that you stay for three months and leave,
and the landlord DOES re-let the property after 3 months, then you owe the landlord $300 for the three months that you should have been in the house and he was unable to let it.

now lets say you stay for three months then leave
the landlord re-lets within a week.
you Owe the landlord $100 (one months rent) because you pay rent in complete months.

The landlord cannot charge you for his time putting up signs, or the agency fee to re-let the house as these are his responsibility anyway, (he'd have had the same costs within a year anyway).



He can't charge you for his time for taking prospective tenants around the house, he's a landlord it's his property that's HIS JOB to do that





"If tenant does not take occupancy of said unit other than unit not being ready of occupancy, security deposit will be forfeited. Tenant will also be responsible for the rent of said unit until landlord can re-rent it."

True, (as in the examples I've given above).
this is basically saying further to that, if you' signed the contracts, but never even moved in, then you'd be liable for the rent until the place was re-let.


"If tenant vacates property before the end of the lease term, they are liable for the balance of rent due to landlord during the remainder of the lease term.
-again as above


Tenant shall further remain liable for such other damages sustained by the landlord due to tenant breach of lease and/or tenants termination of possession of the premises as long as such liability is not expressly prohibited applicable law.
-true, and reasonably carefully worded there. yes, you are liable for financial 'damages' incurred by the landlord, but no you are not responsible for paying him to do his job.


Such other damages shall include, but are not limited to, costs incurred in recovering possession of the premises (such as rental commissions, administrative expenses and advertising expenses)

-I would say that these costs are his job. and that you shouldn't be liable for them.

utility costs for the premises while same remain vacant,
a difficult one, utility line rental, (otherwise known as a standing charge) you will be liable for, council or city taxes should not be paid as the building is unoccupied so there is no refuse to collect.


and costs incurred in redecorating the premises"
yep, that's a you broke it, you fix it, if you left the place dirty then you'll be paying for have it cleaned.


He also sent me this list. Not everything had a specific price on it, but just a general list with total owed, $575.00 at the bottom.

He needs to send an exact and itemised list.


1. Labor paid to our maintenance personnel for placing rental signs at several of our properties in an attempt to generate phone calls. Time included picking up signs from storage, posting the signs at the properties, retrieving them after the lease was signed and then picking them back up to be placed back into the storage.

-I'd argue that it's his responsibility to bear since it's his business letting out houses.
indeed he can't charge you for this at all.

lets look at this more closely, say he owns a thousand houses, and goes and put a sign up at each, and then puts cards in the window of every newsagents in the town or city. that could take a whole week, obviously he can't expect you to pay this.


2. Landlord's time spent meeting and showing the property to prospective roommates.

-definitely not your problem, you don't need to pay for that.

3. Labor paid to our office staff for sending e-mails, responding to e-mails and handling telephone calls regarding the property.

-as long as this relates exclusively to your contract and the time taken to draw up the severance docs, then it's your problem, if it's the cost of drawing up new leases, or the time taken responding to emails and letters for prospective tenants then it's not your problem. it's his job.

4. Labor paid to process applications, meeting with prospective roommates to explain the lease agreement, typing of necessary paperwork and sending the documents to parents.

-again this is his job, and not something that you should be paying him to do.
indeed the new tenants will probably be paying contract fee's so he could be trying to charge you AND the new tenants for this, and that's illegal no matter where you are.

5. Cost of postage for mailing the documents to parents.

yes, docs relating to you you do have to pay for.




slight point to make, it doesn't matter what you sign, lots of contracts are not worth the paper that they are written on, you can't sign away an unlimited liability (like his cost of advertising). you can't sign your basic rights away.



those should be a few pointers, you should really seek some professional help though.
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Old 09-09-2010, 04:54 PM   #6
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Default Re: Need some legal help.

If you are breaking the lease agreement then you are screwed man, he is not obligated to return your security deposit. You're lucky he isn't suing you for the remainder of the rent to which you are obligated to pay since you signed a 1 year lease.

Why are you leaving early?
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Old 09-09-2010, 05:18 PM   #7
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Default Re: Need some legal help.

He's only obliged to pay for months when the house is empty
If he re-let's the house then he can't possibly take rent from the op and the new tennant. You can't rent the same house twice at the same time.

Further.
When you move into a place, you'll usually pay fees for contracts being drawn up.
The landlord will charge (or would usually charge) the new tenant that fee.
Since that fee is being paid by the new tenant he can't charge the op or take it from his security deposit.

It's a well recognised thing. You can't sell the same thing to two people and then take it back.
The landlord can't enrich himself wig the op's deposit when they suffer no loss.

The security deposit is there to remedy loss.

The kind of thing that the op is describing is wrong.

In this country we have laws against this kind of thing and there is angst track route through courts to remedy this. (because the letting industry here got so full of crooked landlords).

This is why I say get legal advise. The idea that you signed a 1year lease and so have to loose all your deposit for leaving early is wrong.

The deposit there is to remedy loss.

In this case the landlord has made no loss.

Rent is up to date. The house is re-let and any fees associated with re-letting the place such as advertising is a normal cost that the landlord would have had to bear next year anyway. The fact that that cost has been brought forward doesn't mean it's an oat he wouldn't have had.

It's his cost. He'd normally pay it and does still need to pay it.

You should see a out talking to a lawyer. Either one working pro Bono or ammo win no fee lawyer.

Alternativly you may wish to tame this to court and be a litigant in person.

You should be able to find pretty good information on the Internet about how to do this. And if it does get to court. Then screw the bastard. Get your deposit back and claim for all associated costs (research time. Cost of filing papers, stationary cost. All the time you've had to work on your case).
Your security deposit

You'll have to read through the typos in that post as I'm using my iPhone to post.
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