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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    can my ex landlord do this?

    We live in Texas. We closed on our new house on August 28. We had previously been renting and our real estate agent (in the beginning) told us he would buy us out of our lease. In the end, he had our landlord agree to let us out of our lease but we would not receive our $1,000.00 deposit back. There was also a $500.00 non refundable pet deposit that we gave when we signed our lease there.

    Our real estate agent also told us that he was going to lease the house after we moved out so he would have a cleaning service to come in after we moved out and we didn't have to "deep clean" the house. We had only been there since May. He came by as we were moving out and looked at the house and said it was in fine condition. After that, I still spent 3 hours vacuuming, dusting and giving an overall clean to the house. The only thing I was not able to clean was the master bathroom shower and toilet.

    A week after we moved we got a text from our real estate agent saying that since we did not uphold "our end of the bargain" and clean the house, he was going to recommend to our landlord to pursue us for the full extent of our lease, and he refused to give us the paperwork that our landlord signed letting us out of the lease (which we had been asking for for weeks). We called our landlord (who he had told us not to contact through this process) and explained the situation to her and she agreed that she felt like we had all been duped by the real estate agent because she felt like she was forced to sign the release papers. I offered to clean the house for her because I never said that I wouldn't, I was told not to. She said no, she would handle it.

    Today (11/29) we received a certified letter from the landlord charging us $150.00 in cleaning fees stating that we breached our lease contract by not cleaning and that if we do not pay in 30 days of receipt of the letter she will pursue legal proceedings.

    My husband says that since we did not get a walkthrough with our landlord after we moved out, and the fact that she has new renters living in the house, and she sent the letter after 30 days of us moving out then she has no ground to stand on. I do not want to go to court over $150.00, and I feel bad that she got the short end of the stick as well. What do we do? Should we just pay the money even though she has $1500.00 of our deposit money, or tell her she can't charge us for that and to leave us alone?

    Thank you in advance for any advice!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    You are free to drive by the old place and check to see if any one is living in it yet , night time is not bad since car (s) will be parked lights on likely in more than one room , If it appears occupied your free to send the landlord her self a letter and in the letter tell the LL court is a two way deal and ask if she really wants to risk going to court over 150.00 if the court agreed with you that you left it clean enough ? (beside her loss of filing fee ) drive over there a few times like say on a saturday day time or sunday evening to see if it appears to be re rented before doing any thing other than just paying it and being done with it. Up to you!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2012
    Thanks for the advice, FarmerJ!

    We do know that she has new tenants. Also, does that even matter since at the time she sent us the certified letter containing the bill it had been well past 30 days since we moved out?

    Last night i was reading the Texas Landlord/tenant laws and came to this:

    "Sec. 92.109. LIABILITY OF LANDLORD. (a) A landlord who in bad faith retains a security deposit in violation of this subchapter is liable for an amount equal to the sum of $100, three times the portion of the deposit wrongfully withheld, and the tenant's reasonable attorney's fees in a suit to recover the deposit.
    (b) A landlord who in bad faith does not provide a written description and itemized list of damages and charges in violation of this subchapter:
    (1) forfeits the right to withhold any portion of the security deposit or to bring suit against the tenant for damages to the premises; and
    (2) is liable for the tenant's reasonable attorney's fees in a suit to recover the deposit.
    (c) In an action brought by a tenant under this subchapter, the landlord has the burden of proving that the retention of any portion of the security deposit was reasonable.
    (d) A landlord who fails either to return a security deposit or to provide a written description and itemization of deductions on or before the 30th day after the date the tenant surrenders possession is presumed to have acted in bad faith.

    Acts 1983, 68th Leg., p. 3641, ch. 576, Sec. 1, eff. Jan. 1, 1984."

    I do not profess to know anything about laws (hence why i am here asking for advice) but I understand that to mean that she is past the 30 day threshold in which she could have come to us with charges.

    Advice on this?

    Thank you in advance.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Apr 2002
    Ignore any thing else the realtor has to say , It is not the realtors property. If the LL has not complied with your states deposit disposition laws your are more than free to file in small claims court based on this former LL not following your states laws and ask in the filing for full refund of deposit and penalty.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Quote Originally Posted by texaslady12 View Post
    We live in Texas. . . .
    It must be your choice as to whether to squabble in court over the bill for the cleaning. My belief is that under the circumstances he would have a hard time proving the claim.

    But bear in mind that you cannot expect to set it off against the $1000 rental deposit. You parted from any legal claim to that money as consideration for the earlier termination of the lease.

    Also, if there is anything in Texas’ Property Code prohibiting non-refundable deposits, such as in California for example, I haven’t been able to locate it.

    HOWEVER, I strongly urge that you lodge a formal complaint with the Texas Real Estate Commission describing the outrageous conduct of “your real state agent”! That should not be ignored.

    Good luck in your new digs.

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