Our former tenant is quite angry at us. She feels that she was overcharged for things. We had to replace a padlock on the garage ("It was on the door when we left!") She said she would leave the house keys in the mail box, but she didn't. They had installed a keyless entry on the door and she left the key that you use to change the code on it, but she did not leave the keys to the regular door locks, the keys that she was given when she moved in. By her own admission she did not clean the stove or the refrigerator. (She forgot), but she claims that she wiped down all the cupboards. She didn't, and we can tell that because she left stuff behind in the laundry room, in the kitchen, in one closet and the bathroom upstairs. They also left boxes and totes and garbage bags full of stuff that had to be hauled out of the basement. I charged her for five hours of work. She feels that I am implying that she was not a clean person.
My problem is that things like that draw me into responding. When she accused us of charging her for normal wear and tear, I assured her that we had not. That we painted the walls, and she was not charged for that. We put a new finish down on the hardwood floors, but she was not charged for that either. Those projects are a landlord's responsibility. That's normal wear and tear.
However, when a wall is left with holes in it where a shelf was ripped down (it certainly wasn't unscrewed), she was charged for replacing the drywall. That is beyond the scope of normal wear and tear. While her boyfriend had filled the holes left from the barndoors they installed between the diningroom and the livingroom, he hadn't sanded anything down. The table they sawed in half and bolted to the bathroom wall as a vanity was removed. Thatwas more damage to repair, and touch up painting. Tim charged them two hours of drywall repair for work in three rooms. The thing was, not one of those alterations was permitted under the terms of the signed lease.
I guess that I just thought if I explained it to her, she'd understand.
She pointed out that we could have replaced the toilet paper holder cheaper if we went to Walmart. We could have bought a padlock cheaper if we went to this store. She didn't understand why she was charged $50 to replace a broken knob on the washer because it was a very old washer. It wasn't old at all. All the appliances had been bought from the same place on the same day. They were new when she moved in, and yes, that is a heartstopping price for a knob, but it is what they charged (that was so outrageous that we did enclose a copy of the receipt.) It was $31 to replace the screen because we had to pay the window people to build the new replacement screen, because they'd tossed out the frame, probably hoping that we would be less likely to notice a missing screen than the torn one.
In the end, she received $206 and change out of her $600 deposit, and she was/is not happy. She feels that it was our responsibility to set up a walk through, and we did not. It's actually the tenant's responsibility, by law, but if she has not set up one by 15 days before the moveout, we are suppose to contact her. We didn't have 15 days. She gave us 9 days notice.
She's required to give 30 days notice, but feels because we didn't tell her she could not move out when she gave her 9 days notice, this constitutes our agreement that she break the lease. We knew she was hauling her stuff out in a big hurry. We were a bit blindsided by the speed that it all was happening. I figured they would clean after they got all their stuff out, but there was one last message that they were done, and the keys would be in the mailbox.
Well. Until the angry messaging started. The last exchange happened when they received their itemized list and the refund from their depost. She told me that I was lying, in those words and that because I was lying, it made her question every single deduction on the list. She was outraged that I would imply that she is a dirty person. At that point, I just started sending her messages to spam. She wasn't willing to listen. She wasn't being reasonable. She is swearing that she will not back down and she's taking us to court. We don't need to be seeing this stuff. We can look up the messages once a week to print out anything new, but we sure don't need the upset every day.
Yesterday, I was over there one last time, scrubbing at the grout in the upstairs bathroom. When I was done, finally, I swept the floor. The bathroom sink cabinet is on legs, and when I swept underneath it, there were bottle caps, odd earrings, dust bunnies, packaging from false eyelashes, cat toys, bobby pins, etc.
That's when it hit me. I see where the disconnect is. She feels that her house wasn't dirty when she left. What she doesn't understand is that it wasn't at all ready to rent. Appliances needed pulled out. Spills and grease had dripped down between them and the cupboards. There was debris and papers and all manner of stuff underneath all of the appliances. The carpets upstairs had not been shampooed. The windows needed washed. The grout in the bathroom needed attention. The baseboard radiators on both floors were dirty and dusty, Debris had collected beneath them as well.
None of these things would indicate that I'm implying that she's a pig. I mean, if you pulled out my fridge right now, I am quite sure that I would be embarrassed, Same with the washer, the dryer the stove. I have my own shampooer, but there's a rug that could benefit from some attention. It's just a fact of life.
For some reason, it came as a big relief to finally be able to put my finger on the disconnect, to be able to figure out what she was so darned angry about. I mean, she had been a tenant for several years, and we never had a problem with her until this whole thing blew up in our face.
I gathered up my stuff and the last of the garbage and headed back out. I locked the door with the new key to the new lock. I got in my car and came home.