What is the name of your state (only U.S. law)? Washington
My girlfriend and I moved out on the 1st of April, after staying in an apartment for 8 months. We are trying to get our deposit back, plus a month's worth of rent that we overpaid.
Here is a timeline of events:
August 1st 2008: We entered the unit, paying for 1st months rent and a deposit. This means rent was payed for August. Every payment afterward was made before the 1st of every month.
February 2009: We made a rental payment in advance, as usual, which corresponds to occupancy for the month of March.
March 2009: We called the landlord and told her we would be moving out on April 1st. She claimed we had not payed for March's rent. At the time, I didn't realize the mistake, so I just went along with what she said and agreed to make another payment.
March 27th 2009: I wrote the landlord a letter as a reminder that we would be moving out on the 1st. In the letter, I requested our deposit back, along with a walkthrough of the apartment. I sent this letter, along with the extra payment, through certified mail.
March 30th 2009: The landlord received the letter.
March 31st 2009: We did not hear from the landlord, so I called her agent to see if he could give us a quick walkthrough. The agent told us that he would not be available to give us a walkthrough, so he told us to just lock up the apartment and put the keys in the office mail slot.
Not having much choice in the matter, as our plans prevented us from staying after the 1st, we did as he said.
We did not get a walkthrough as requested, and we don't know if the agent or landlord signed off on anything.
April 2009: A week later I called the agent again to ask if he looked at the apartment. He said everything looked fine, and he had already called the landlord to tell her.
I then asked him if the landlord mentioned anything about giving us back our deposit. He said from the sounds of it, odds were pretty good that we would get it back.
We waited, but still no word from the landlord.
It was around this time that I reviewed my records, and discovered that we had made an overpayment of rent. My records show that we made a payment in February for March's rent. In March, I made another payment, as per the landlord's claim that March wasn't paid for. This payment actually corresponds to the month of April, in which we were no long occupying the unit. April's rent was an overpayment.
April 14th 2009: Still had no word from the landlord. At that time, I wrote the landlord 2 letters, both certified, discussing the matters of our deposit and overpayment.
The first letter was a reminder that we wanted our deposit back. I told her that according to the Washington State RCW laws, she was supposed to give us notice about our deposit within 14 days of vacancy. We have gotten no such notice. That said, I requested the immediate return of our deposit.
The second letter discussed in detail why we overpaid rent and where the mistake was made. I enclosed photocopies of all of my receipts, proving that we had been staying at the apartment for 8 months, but mistakenly made an overpayment for a 9th month (April) that we were no longer occupying. We requested to be reimbursed for not only the deposit, but for the overpayment as well.
April 28th 2009: The 2 certified letters had been delivered over a week ago, but the landlord apparently was not there to receive them. They are now at the post office, waiting for her to come pick them up. However, if she does not pick them up soon, they will be returned to sender.
We are getting the feeling she might be neglecting to pick up the letters because she is trying to ignore us. I have a few questions and would like to get everyone's take on this:
If she ignores us, and the letters are sent back, what should we do?
Or, if she gets the letters, but refuses to reimburse us, what should we do then?
The apartment in question had some damages that were not caused by us. They were left by the previous tenants, the landlord never fixed them, but we did try to bring them to her attention before we moved in. Since we didn't get a walkthrough and we don't know if she ever signed off on anything, can we be held liable for these damages, even if they are from a previous tenant?
Can she legally say anything, given the situation, that would entitle her to keep any amount that we paid her?
I hate the idea of having to take this to court. We are getting so stressed out about this situation and need some good advice...