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Thread: Can landlord keep deposit without move-in inspection?

  1. #1
    pro_perdef is offline Member
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    Can landlord keep deposit without move-in inspection?

    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? OREGON

    Recently moved out of a house. We were never given the opportunity to fill out a move-in inspection report when we moved in two years ago. We paid a $1000 deposit. Now landlord has claimed $600 of that deposit for things like cleaning fees and carpet cleaning (none of which was in our lease...and the place wasn't cleaned when we moved in). There is NOTHING in our lease that says we are to pay for carpet or any other cleaning.

    They also charged me for things like removing nails and patching holes...the place was riddled with nail holes when we moved in and I removed any nails we put in and patched/painted the holes when we moved out.

    Can a landlord charge damages against a deposit without having a move-in inspection report to compare the move-out inspection to?
  2. #2
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Yes because the unit is presumed to be in good condition unless otherwise states. You are supposed to clean and you are supposed to repair damages to walls. If you don't, then you can expect to be charged.
  3. #3
    pro_perdef is offline Member
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    No offense, Zigner...but you're in California. Can you please tell me what your experience in OREGON law is? Please cite your source for what is presumed and what I'm "supposed" to do on move out. There is nothing in my lease or the ORS that requires me to clean the carpets, or to pay for that.
  4. #4
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CNkCEBYwAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.osbar.org%2F_docs%2Fpu blic%2Flioa%2Fchapter7.pdf&ei=X0OoT7OdNfPbiALO99DTAg&usg=AFQjCNE1z0V_rz61rY2Of_SYmZ7_xb_5Xg

    I'll let you read it to figure out why you're wrong.
  5. #5
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zigner View Post
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=2&ved=0CNkCEBYwAQ&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.osbar.org%2F_docs%2Fpu blic%2Flioa%2Fchapter7.pdf&ei=X0OoT7OdNfPbiALO99DTAg&usg=AFQjCNE1z0V_rz61rY2Of_SYmZ7_xb_5Xg

    I'll let you read it to figure out why you're wrong.
    Sorry, Zig, but your link didn't work. Try this one instead:
    http://www.osbar.org/_docs/public/lioa/chapter7.pdf
  6. #6
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by sandyclaus View Post
    Sorry, Zig, but your link didn't work. Try this one instead:
    http://www.osbar.org/_docs/public/lioa/chapter7.pdf
    Yep, that's it. Stupid Google
  7. #7
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pro_perdef View Post
    What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? OREGON

    Recently moved out of a house. We were never given the opportunity to fill out a move-in inspection report when we moved in two years ago. We paid a $1000 deposit. Now landlord has claimed $600 of that deposit for things like cleaning fees and carpet cleaning (none of which was in our lease...and the place wasn't cleaned when we moved in). There is NOTHING in our lease that says we are to pay for carpet or any other cleaning.

    They also charged me for things like removing nails and patching holes...the place was riddled with nail holes when we moved in and I removed any nails we put in and patched/painted the holes when we moved out.

    Can a landlord charge damages against a deposit without having a move-in inspection report to compare the move-out inspection to?
    Sure they can. Just because they did not have a move-in inspection report doesn't mean you still don't have a responsibility of proving the condition of the property upon move-in, especially if they are making what you consider to be false claims of cleaning charges and damages when you move out.

    Did you happen to take photos or videos of the place to show that the it wasn't clean and that there were nail holes in the walls that were already there before you moved in? Just because the LL didn't cover their arse doesn't mean you shouldn't do it yourself.

    If you have proof that these things LL is charging you for were the way YOU found it when you moved in, then you have a defense against the charges for cleaning and repairs. If not, then you don't. It's really that simple.
  8. #8
    pro_perdef is offline Member
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    "With only a very few exceptions, the landlord may not charge any other fees to the tenant. Note that this prohibition includes cleaning fees, for instance; beginning in 2010, the practice of charging tenants a cleaning fee is no longer permitted." ( http://www.osbar.org/public/legalinfo/1260_FeesDeposits.htm )

    So aside from the fact that the place was left spotless, tell me again why I'm "legally" being charged $375 for "house cleaning" and "carpet cleaning" when those charges appear no where in my lease and aren't apparently permitted under Oregon law.
  9. #9
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    The whole point of a security deposit (which remains the tenants money throughout the lease) is to provide the landlord with some financial security to cover any damages left behind after a tenant moves out that are considered to be above normal wear and tear.

    The issue that always seems to come up is what is "normal wear and tear" versus damages. Dirt is not normal wear and tear. A lease does not have to specify that the carpets must be cleaned at move out for a tenant to be charged this after vacating the rental unit....if the carpets were dirty at move out. At least this isn't as bad as a landlord claiming that carpets need to be replaced and charging the former tenant for the full cost of doing this (as opposed to prorating the charge based on the age of the carpet).

    Your patching and repainting over nail holes may not have been the smartest move. Did you ask the landlord if you could do this and if so, were you not concerned that by doing this, you may possibly have left the landlord/management with no option but to repaint the entire wall to match your repainting efforts?

    If you disagree with the amount that was kept out of your security deposit, you write what is often known as a "demand" letter, disputing the amount kept and demanding what you believe you are fairly owed, giving the landlord/management a certain amount of time to return this (say, two weeks after they receive the letter).

    If they do not respond...or do not respond to your satisfaction....your next option is to consider a lawsuit where you attempt to prove to the court that you did not cause these damages. To do so, you would need to show proof of the condition of the rental unit at move in and then at move out. Hopefully you took pictures to back up your claims that this amount was unfairly withheld from your security deposits and that you left the rental unit "spotless" at move out.

    Gail

    P.S. What you posted describes a "cleaning fee" that is automatically added to the lease. This is different than what your former landlord/management is contending. They have withheld money from your security deposit (a deposit is refundable, a fee is not).
    Last edited by Gail in Georgia; 05-07-2012 at 06:16 PM.
  10. #10
    pro_perdef is offline Member
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    I understand that, I also understand that our state law requires them to allow us to give a move-in report, which they never did. Without that report, how can they prove I caused any damage that they claim at move-out?
  11. #11
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    It is possible they took pictures right before you moved in and then right after you moved out as evidence to prove their claims of damages above normal wear and tear.

    Gail
  12. #12
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pro_perdef View Post
    I understand that, I also understand that our state law requires them to allow us to give a move-in report, which they never did. Without that report, how can they prove I caused any damage that they claim at move-out?
    How did they STOP you - did they grab the pen out of your hand? Did they break your camera?

    Seriously...
  13. #13
    sandyclaus is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by pro_perdef View Post
    I understand that, I also understand that our state law requires them to allow us to give a move-in report, which they never did. Without that report, how can they prove I caused any damage that they claim at move-out?
    The law ALLOWS them to give a move-in report, but it does NOT require it.

    And quite honestly, since it is you claiming their charges are wrong, it would be up to you to prove WHY they are wrong - as in proving what the state of the rental unit was BEFORE you took possession.

    Just because there isn't a move-in report doesn't relieve YOU of that obligation, since it is you who is challenging those cleaning charges. You're the one saying that their claims are false, but if you intend to do anything about it, the burden of proof will be on YOU to show that they are.
  14. #14
    FarmerJ is offline Senior Member
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    Did someone help you move in ? if so ask them if they will come to court with you if they recall the move in conditions of the apt. If you dont have pics thats your best shot ( not perfect ) When you moved in I am wondering if it occured to you to send to the LL a certified letter saying `dear LL I have found 19 nail holes in room one, 21 nail homes in living room. 6 in bathroom, 4 in kitchen , It appears to me the carpet is in need of cleaning and that last tenant left the windows dirty. ETC , signed by you. Next time around use a camera , take pics then also send to a LL certified letter saying what the obvious damages are at move in.
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  15. #15
    pro_perdef is offline Member
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    Actually, oregon law (according to the state bar website) DOES seem to require a move-in inspection report if you expect to be able to keep any of the tenant's deposit.

    If you don't have any knowledge of OREGON law, please don't bother trying to give input.
    Last edited by m martin; 05-07-2012 at 07:33 PM.

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