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security deposit ;TX
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Yolanda
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Joined: Wed Mar 1st, 2006
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 293
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Wed Feb 6th, 2008 01:14 pm
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Unless it is a mutual agreement and writen a landlord does not have to give the tenant an opportunity to remedy unless it is the fault of the landlord such as sewage backup.  There is no statute to my knowledge that a tenant can make repairs at a reduced cost.  Read my response below to carpet cleaning.  All repairs must be approved in writing.  The tenant may be given an opportunity to pay for the repairs outright rather than from the security deposit, but that is not the norm.  A tenant can be given the opportunity to change out the toilet seat and door stoppers.  You still did not advise if you broke your lease agreement.  If you did that is an entirely different story. 

Texas is strict on security deposits in a court of law.  Your landlord has the burden of proof to show that she paid for all those repairs and they were not normal wear and tear.  From what you tell us, some of those repairs charged were normal wear and tear.  Again, if you broke your lease agreement, this does not apply.  Of course, normal wear and tear is subject to interpretation.  Once again, I suggest you write your LL a letter and send it by CMRRR.  Quote the statutes and advise you have pictures.  LL Laura gave you good advice about checking with an attorney.  I am not an attorney.  I can only give you advice from my experiences.  Good luck to you.  

Last edited on Wed Feb 6th, 2008 01:51 pm by Yolanda

LandlordLaura
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Joined: Mon Aug 21st, 2006
Location:  
Posts: 1117
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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 08:26 pm
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By "disposition of Security Deposit" letter, I am referring to the "written description and itemized list of deductions" that the Landlord is legally required to provide you with if any amount of your Security Deposit is retained by the Landlord.  Because State Laws do vary, this itemization letter or list goes by different names...

Go ahead and dispute (in writing, as mentioned before) those items which you  do not agree with and request a written reply from the Landlord. 

I went through the 'Legal Resources' link at the top of this web page and am referring to the following sections of the Texas Laws:

SUBCHAPTER C. SECURITY DEPOSITS
Application:
This subchapter applies to all residential leases.  Title 8, Ch. 92, � 92.101
Security Deposit:
A security deposit is any advance of money, other than a rental application deposit or an advance payment of rent, that is intended primarily to secure performance under a lease of a
dwelling that has been entered into by a landlord and a tenant.  Title 8, Ch. 92, � 92.102
...

Retention of Security Deposit; Accounting:
(a) Before returning a security deposit, the landlord may deduct from the deposit damages and charges for which the tenant is legally liable under the lease or as a result of breaching the lease.
(b) The landlord may not retain any portion of a security deposit to cover normal wear and tear.
(c) If the landlord retains all or part of a security deposit under this section, the landlord shall give to the tenant the balance of the security deposit, if any, together with a written description and itemized list of all deductions. The landlord is not required to give the tenant a description and
itemized list of deductions if:
(1) the tenant owes rent when he surrenders possession of the premises; and
(2) there is no controversy concerning the amount of rent owed.  Title 8, Ch. 92, � 92.104
...
Records:
The landlord shall keep accurate records of all security deposits.  Title 8, Ch. 92, � 92.106
...
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.  Title 8, Ch. 92, � 92.109
...


You mentioned in a previous post, "I read in the Property code that the agency is supposed to allow me time to correct things myself at a cheaper cost once  have been informed of the issues."  Where did you find this section of the code?  I did not see that section.  Because Yolanda owns property in Texas, I wonder if Yolanda can comment on this...

Your last post brought up a few more quesitons for me.  If the Landlord moved new Tenants into the property and they moved in before the end of December, you could be owed a credit for rent you paid.  A Landlord cannot "double dip" and charge rent to you and to a new Tenant for the same time frame.   If the carpets were damaged by a storm before you moved in and you can prove it, the Landlord will have a hard time charging you for the carpet cleaning, especially if you already had cleaned.  Maybe you can get additional copies of receipts by contacting the company you hired to clean?

From what you stated, you and your husband paid $850 in total deposits and $800 of that was a "refundable deposit".  The Landlord is only refunding $93, meaning that $707 was retained to pay for damages/fees/charges.  I see why you question the items the the Landlord is charging you for and I understand your desire to get your Deposit back.  Based on item #2c under the Liability of Landlord section of the Law posted above, "the landlord has the burden of proving that the retention of any portion of the security deposit was reasonable."

You are at a disadvantage because you live so far away now.  Is it possible for you to check with the Military and see if and/or how they can help you with this?  Does the Military have Attorneys available to assist you since your husband is in the service?




 

ferguson06
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Joined: Mon Feb 4th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 5
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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 06:01 pm
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Thank you for your time and help I am just stressed out because I thought I had such a good friendship with the people of this agency and I asked so many questions and kept getting told you wont have anything to worry about, and all of a sudden I am getting $93 back.

To answer some of your questions:

Yes I had the carpets cleaned professionally, but I turned the reciepts in to the inspector because they told me I had to.

My pet deposit was seperate from my house deposit adn they said $300 of the $350 was refundable.

I dont know what a disposition of security deposit is...:(

I dont remember them doing a move in inspection, and therefore nope I do not have a copy.

The ll has not sent me any pictures nor indicated that they have pictures of the damages they are claiming. All I recieved was an itemized list of issues repaired and that i was charged for.

Again thank you for your help. I didnt know where to go I did so much research to get info. I just was counting on this money. I am 21 and have a baby on the way along with a seven month old and my husband leaves for Iraq in 3 weeks. I have no family around me and now live in Hawaii so I have been freaking out that I could do nothing. I am fighting this through letters instead of in person cause I can afford to fly to texas and I am preganant (not supposed to fly)

thanks

ferguson

ferguson06
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Joined: Mon Feb 4th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 5
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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 05:49 pm
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OKay so heres the deal. This house has had previous tenants who ****** up the carpet it was aweful at move in adn we asked it be replaced and they said no. Then Texas had horrible storms for quit some time in our area and because our backdoor was not sealed properly the carpet got flooded. Our house smelled disqusting adn we complained and asked for it to be fixed. I was toldthey were going to replace the carpet then the guy came out and informed me he was only told to strech the carpet. all the padding under the carpet was gone and Tex Star still did nothing. So we lived with it. I paid a professional $100 to deoderize and clean with pet stain cleaner and deoderizor. This gentalman is actually contracted through Tex star so he is the same guy they use sometimes.

In regards to the screens I dont know why those were replaced but I do not have pictures of them I only have pictures of the inside of the house. I was not missing any screens nor were any broken to my knowledge. As well as the toilet seats. I am serious I will take full responsibility if i did something wrong, trust me my dad owns property and i get to be the one who cleans them many times I would not fight issues I felt i really should pay for.  All I can think of for a defense against the toilet seats and screens is that I tried helping the agency get new tenant before i moved out. The girls who looked at it can dispute that they saw nothing wrong with the toilet seats and screens but I dont know if that will do me any good.

As for the holes I only hung something in the garage ... a dart board so yes many tiny holes there but not in the house and i pasted them as i was told to.

I paid for rent of December but in writting stated my move out date was to be the 20th. That gave me a few days yes I was gone before then but why would that matter I paid for the place the company was not loosing anything.

heres a question. I read in the Property code that the agency is supposed to allow me time to correct things myself at a cheaper cost once  have been informed of the issues. I did not get that oppertunity. They seemed to have already fixed and charged me for everything. And they stated that the place has already been rerented.

what can i do?

Yolanda
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Joined: Wed Mar 1st, 2006
Location: Texas USA
Posts: 293
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 11:41 am
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In the State of Texas, small holes are normal wear and tear.  If there are an excessive amount (subject to interpretation) or they are huge, an LL can charge for this.  The inspections in my opinion are excessive and should not have been charged.  Screens are chargeable and they cost about $13.00 each for rescreening if you have the form.  If not, they are more.  Yes, prices are high in Texas!  Regarding the carpet cleaning, pet odor is tremendous, even though you take care of your pet.  At move-out, I do not allow my tenants to clean their own carpet.  If you did this without prior written approval, the LL can charge for cleaning if the carpet is not deodorized and cleaned.  I go through a professional carpet cleaner that guarantees urine odor will not come up during inclement weather, and I have all rooms and stairs cleaned.  I also have the carpet or padding replaced if necessary.  If the odor reappeared, it had to be recleaned.  I am very strick with this condition and qualify my tenants before move-in if they have a pet.  Pets are expensive.  When I went to court on a security deposit dispute, one of the disputes was carpet cleaning.  The tenant stated she had the carpet professionally cleaned and produced a receipt.  I argued that the urine odor had come up and had a bad odor throughout the house.  It so happened that the company that I used had just hired this carpet cleaner.  He advised me he had been the one who cleaned this carpet and she asked for the minimum because she did not want to have to pay a lot, so she paid for the cheapest cleaning without odor reducers.  She had a receipt for $150.00 and had only paid $65.00.  In your case, it does not sound excesessive; however, if you have a pet, carpet cleaning can be expensive in Texas as there are a variety of treatments.  If the door stops were available and are not now, you can be charged for those.  The toilet seat should be charged only if the tenant broke it or was no longer useable due to mistreatment.  Mowing the yard seems excessive and unnecessary.  As the others have stated, it depends if you left before your lease or if you fulfilled your lease agreement.  If you broke your lease, in the Sate of Texas you can be charged more for damages.  Beginning January 2008, the Texas State Statutes have been amended.  Make sure you read them.  As suggested, send your LL a letter by CMRRR asking for receipts and explanation of charges and advise you have pictures before and after.  Keep us posted!  Good luck to you!

OH landlord
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Joined: Wed Sep 12th, 2007
Location:  
Posts: 506
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 Posted: Tue Feb 5th, 2008 01:59 am
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If this is all the charges they have, it doesn't add up in my book.  Since I am currently in the midst of doing my taxes, I can tell you the following charges based upon receipts in front of me:

Toilet seat   14.95 + tax    labor to remove & install: 10 mins.

Rescreening per window    9.24 each (tax included)  labor  to reinstall:  5 mins.

door stoppers     2.00 each + tax   labor to remove & install: 5 mins.

outlet covers    1.34 each + tax   labor to remove & install:  about 1 min. ea.

Carpet cleaning    56.71 per 12 x 12 room

mowing    25.00 for 1/8 acre lot  ($75!!!  How big is that yard- acres?!?!?!)  Isn't it dormant by December?

spot painting one room    $25.00    Labor time:  20 mins.

Unless prices are a WHOLE lot higher in TX, that doesn't come to anywhere near $750.  I suggest you price these things there and write a dispute letter to the LLs disputing each charge one by one as Laura has said.

LandlordLaura
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Joined: Mon Aug 21st, 2006
Location:  
Posts: 1117
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Feb 4th, 2008 10:12 pm
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Hi.   Thank you and to your husband for his service to our Country! 

You should dispute any charges that you do not agree with in writing and send it to the Landlord by Certified Mail, Return Receipt Requested and also request a written response from the Landlord within a reasonable time frame (ie. 5 days...).  Be sure that you provide the Landlord with your current address, as well.

Did you have a chance to read through the Lease and the Texas Landlord Tenant Laws fully so that you are familiar with both?  It is important to read through both again so that you are very clear to what you agreed to in the Lease and what is legally allowed...

In order to be really clear about your specific situation, more information is needed:

Did the Landlord provide you with a written "Disposition of Security Deposit" letter (or the Texas version of it...)? 

I'm glad that you have photos of the property at move-in and move-out, but, did the Landord do a move-in inspection and move-out inspection that you received a copy of so that you can look at them side by side?  Did the Landlord send photos of the damages that are being claimed and specific, detailed receipts for the repairs that were necessary? 

Did you pay rent for the month of December (through 12/31) but vacate the property on 12/17 instead?  Did you provide the Landlord with the exact move-out date in writing before you left?  For example, I'm wondering if the mow was needed because you vacated the property on 12/17, but the Lease was not up until 12/31.  See what I mean?  It is important to clarify...

Do you still have copies (or the originals) of the receipts for the floor cleaning that you had done before you vacated so that you can prove to a Judge that the floors were properly thoroughly cleaned?   Did you do the work yourself or hire a professionally licensed company to do the floor cleaning for you?

Did your Lease Agreement say that the Security Deposit and the Pet Deposit were both fully refundable OR was the Pet Deposit a non-refundable fee?

Like you, I do not understand the inspection fee, the reinspection fee and the ac inspection fees.  Did your Lease Agreement and/or deposit receipts state that these fees would be deducted at move-out and that you agreed to the fees?

Normal wear and tear does not normally allow for nail hole repairs.  Did the Landlord provide you with anything in writing re: the nail hole "policy" that they described to you, ie. leaving the holes patched, but unpainted?  (Landlord Tenant Laws do vary across the United States and Judges decisions re: normal wear and tear can certainly vary depending on the State/County/City where the property is located.)

Please provide the additonal specific information for clarity...  

ferguson06
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Joined: Mon Feb 4th, 2008
Location:  
Posts: 5
Status:  Offline
 Posted: Mon Feb 4th, 2008 09:10 pm
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My case:

I recently moved out of a house rented by Tex star properties in Texas. I gave a $500 deposit and $350 pet deposit. I took pictures of the place when i moved in and out. I was told I am only getting $93 back due to replacemet of outlet covering toilet seats, window screens (2) and door stoppers (3). They also charged me for carpet cleaning that I pay $100 to get done and gave them the reciepts, they claim they dont have. I am frustrated because they charged me $75 yard work (to mow lawn), yet the yard was not mowed when I moved in. Also my husband mowed the lawn before he left dec 10th and I moved out as well a week later and they didnt have time for my inspection until another week after that. They said I am being charged for an inspection fee, reinspection fee and ac inspection fee. Shouldnt the ac be inspected with the house if the rent the unit with the ac system? I dont know why screens or toilet seats were replaced I have pictures that they worked just fine and were in good condition when I moved out. When I signed the lease I was informed that at move out all hole would need to be filled in but  didnt need to repaint. Well I knew I wouldnt be there long due to my husbands career in the military, therefore we didnt hang anything but in the garage. I pasted over the holes as I was told and they claim I have to pay for spot painting. I know under Texas Property Code section 92.052 it states lanlords may not charge tenants for natural wear and tear of home. Is there anything eles I can use against them to dispute my deposit and get more back?


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