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  1. #1
    intargc is offline Junior Member
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    Requesting money for damages

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

    I have a tenant that moved out 30 days ago. The tenant left multiple damages to the house that exceed what I would consider normal wear and tear. For instance, her cat tore up two of our door blinds as well as the weather stripping on all doors. They didn't mow 1/4 of our back yard so she could throw multiple heaps of cat litter in the grass to which we had to remove since it is a non biodegradable substance and clumped into cement just about which caused us to have to dig up that back 1/4 of our hard. They cracked one bedroom door severely across the middle and again at the top. They kicked a hole in our master bedroom double doors. They bleached out the carpet in large spots in our upstairs hall way and one of the bedrooms. There were multiple holes in the walls that were not caused from the standard picture nails. They're more along the lines of kicking the wall or stabbing a knife or flat head screw driver multiple times into the wall or possibly when moving in/out they rammed something into the wall in a few places. They cut a large hole in our counter tops in the kitchen so that the actual wood in the laminate counter tops is exposed in a 1" area. They ruined the paint by practically rubbing it off to a bare wall in our living room (probably used a "magic eraser" on it).

    The tenant gave us a $1,500 deposit. After they moved in, they got a cat and a dog without our consent. We amended the contract when we found out about the pets and allowed them to keep the animals even though we didn't want pets in our house in the first place. We collected a total of $700 for the pet deposits for the two animals and the amended pet contracts state a non refundable deposit for the animals.

    We got estimates on our house and we picked the least expensive solutions for everything. However, some things simply have to be replaced such as the counter tops and the doors and are causing the price to be pretty high. The total price for all of the damage came to $3,700.

    We called the tenant and informed them that we are trying to send them the final bill and that we needed their forwarding address. She asked what the letter said and when my wife told her, she became very beligerant and started yelling at my wife. My wife told her all we were currently trying to do was to send the letter to her and we needed her address. She told my wife that she was not going to give her anything and that we were price gouging and we had already "gouged" her for the deposit money. She refused to tell us what her forwarding address was, told us that she was getting a lawyer to sue us and hung up the phone.

    I feel what we have done is fair. We left a lot of items out of our estimate list such as the damage the caused to our microwave and our range which has left them in a very unattractive and unfixable state. I have charged them for steaming the carpets clean since they were disgustingly dirty but I didn't charge them for replacing the carpet upstairs which is where the bleached spots are. So, I have tried to get the cost of the repairs to a very minimum amount for her. However, the damages that are the worst have ended up costing a lot of money. The door she kicked a hole through in the master bedroom is a special order door that is expensive...

    I want to know what else I need to do to cover myself if and when this goes to court. I have the estimates, we took photo's of all of the damage and we even had a neighbor help us clean out the back yard and looked at the house and said they would be a witness to the damage. I offered the tenant twice to do the final walk through with me but she refused and said "I trust you guys".

    Is there anything else I need to do to make sure that we get the amount due for the damages they created?

    Please, any advice is helpful.
  2. #2
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    Georgia is a fairly landlord friendly state.

    File in Civil/Magistrates Court (our version of Small Claims), include the TOTAL damage (Georgia allows for claims up to $15,000), get the neighbor to agree to come as a witness, bring the original and copies of the pictures, estimates/receipts.

    Your biggest problem may be finding the new address of your former tenants. You would need that if you plan on filing a lawsuit.

    Do you now have their address?

    You do know that getting a judgement against these folks is no guarantee you'll ever see a dime from them, don't you?

    Gail
  3. #3
    intargc is offline Junior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gail in Georgia View Post
    Georgia is a fairly landlord friendly state.

    File in Civil/Magistrates Court (our version of Small Claims), include the TOTAL damage (Georgia allows for claims up to $15,000), get the neighbor to agree to come as a witness, bring the original and copies of the pictures, estimates/receipts.

    Your biggest problem may be finding the new address of your former tenants. You would need that if you plan on filing a lawsuit.

    Do you now have their address?

    You do know that getting a judgement against these folks is no guarantee you'll ever see a dime from them, don't you?

    Gail
    Gail,

    Actually, I was unaware that getting a judgement against them wouldn't result in seeing any money from them. I'm completely ignorant to all of this and only rented the house because I had to move out of state for a year and couldn't afford to pay for it otherwise.

    We don't have the address of the tenant. She has refused to give it to us. We are sending her letter to our address in hopes that she had mail forwarding to her new address and we're also going to send a letter to the apartment complex that called us for a reference when she moved out and we asked the apartment complex if they would at least forward the letter to her apartment.

    We have an application with her social security number so I thought that may help some...

    As long as I have the stuff you have suggested above, does that put me in a good state? In other words, is that the most I can do to cover myself in court or should I be doing something else? I guess since I'm so ignorant to the details that I feel as if I should be doing more to help my case although I can't think of what else to do.

    Thank you for all your help!
  4. #4
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    One suggestion that has worked for some trying to hunt down previous tenants....

    Send an envelope (even an empty one) to the last known address (which would be your rental). Write your return address in the upper left hand corner. Underneath your return address, write in large (red helps) letters "Return address requested".

    SOMETIMES the post office will write the new address on the envelope and return it to you for a minimal (50 cents or so) charge.

    You need their current address so that they can be legally served when you file against them.

    If unsure of this whole Civil/Magistrate Court business here in Georgia, contact your local Civil/Magistrate Court office (it's listed under the local government in your county) and ask when this court is held. You can go there as an observer to see how cases are handled.

    Gail
  5. #5
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    Intargc

    There are also attorneys who do evictions. If you feel uncomfortable handling this yourself, you can consider hiring one. Sometimes legal letters from these guys get recalcitrant tenants moving.

    Gail
  6. #6
    MIRAKALES is offline Senior Member
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    LL is primarily responsible for most of the issues described. It is necessary and recommended to perform periodic property inspections to ensure premises are maintained in good condition. (Request local assistance if LL is out-of-town.) Notices of Violations should be issued for all damages (intentional or unintentional) at time of occurrence. This would include violation notices for unauthorized pets, and damaged apparatus, fixtures and appliances.

    The security deposit settlement statement should included ALL damages without forgiveness. It would be a mistake for LL to overlook or dismiss damage if dispute requires court action. The settlement statement should be issued within thirty (30) days in accordance to Georgia law to the last known address (rental property). USPS will forward or return to LL for safekeeping (and court). Tenant may be legally served at place of employment, residence, or in public places.

    LL only wants to restore the premises to original condition and have tenant make payment for damages due to tenant abuse and neglect. LL should remain focused on the premise restoration and not the tenant. (Tenant is gone and no longer an issue. Premises remain and need restoration and repair.)
  7. #7
    intargc is offline Junior Member
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    I don't see how I'd be responsible for any of the items I have listed above... These are not normal wear and tear issues.
  8. #8
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    If they won't provide a forwarding address, send the statement to their last known address. (Yes, that's the place they rented from you).
  9. #9
    intargc is offline Junior Member
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    We did. We sent one there by certified and regular mail as well as sending one to her apartment complex's front office by certified and regular mail.

    Thanks for the help!
  10. #10
    seniorjudge is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gail in Georgia View Post
    ...

    Send an envelope (even an empty one) to the last known address (which would be your rental). Write your return address in the upper left hand corner. Underneath your return address, write in large (red helps) letters "Return address requested".

    ...


    I've never heard of this, but if you write ADDRESS CORRECTION REQUESTED above the recipient's address, sometimes you may get their new address.
    There are two rules for success:

    (1) Never tell everything you know.
  11. #11
    intargc is offline Junior Member
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    Ok, so to follow up with what happened here... We sent a letter by certified mail and by regular mail to our home address which was forwarded to the old tenant. Today we received the certified letter back and it said "Refused, Return to sender".

    So, the old tenant is refusing to accept the letters as well as refusing to work with us at all.

    What steps should we take next? Every day we find new damage to our house (our garage door was damaged due to someone either kicking it in or trying to open it by force causing it to bend and tear in the middle and now it won't open or shut properly so we have to just keep it closed and locked) and we're getting really frustrated with all of this. While I'm willing to work with her on some things, I still think she owes us for the ridiculous blatant damages she caused such as kicking holes in the walls/doors, ruining our counter tops, etc...

    Should we now go to an attorney and proceed with suing or should I be doing something else by law before we are safe to do that?
  12. #12
    Zigner is offline Senior Member
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    Sue the bad people.
    DON'T open that letter that was refused...save it for court.
  13. #13
    intargc is offline Junior Member
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    We haven't opened the letter, thankfully!

    The one thing I have been worried about is that our contract (which was written by the agent that listed our house for rental) had a clause in it that we misunderstood. It stated that we had 3 business days to send an estimate for any damages to the tenant after moving out. We took 30 days because that's what our agent told us we could take (I assume the agent didn't even know his contract well enough). We didn't know what to estimate for all of the damages so we obviously called out professionals to provide estimates for the damages and that took some time. We did, however, send the letter on day 30 and have receipts and also the returned letter I have just stated. Does anyone think this may cause an issue?
  14. #14
    Gail in Georgia is offline Senior Member
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    Georgia allows landlords 30 days to provide this information to former tenants. This is the length of time the court will uphold if your former tenants claim they did not receive this information within the allowed time period.

    Often the extent of damages cannot be determined three days after a tenant moves out.

    Gail
  15. #15
    intargc is offline Junior Member
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    Thanks Gail!

    Do you know of anything else we need to do before taking this to the court?

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