QUESTION FROM ONE OF MATT’S READERS-
“I just came across your website and found it very helpful. I have a question concerning a landlord issue. We recently just moved out of a home we were leasing. We did everything the landlord asked for and followed the lease perfectly. During the time we stayed there the landlord would visit almost everyday unannounced. He would use the driveway and work in the shed behind the house. Many of his friends would just wander the yard also. He also used our water hose almost everyday. We did talk to him about this and he told us we had to get use to it. We decided we would just stick it out and not renew our lease.
Upon moving out the landlord said we had left a small spot on the back of his 32 year old pink countertop. He rented the property out right after we moved and is still using the countertop. He charged us $540 for the small spot saying it had 3 years left his loss. So he was charging us $180 a year. I read up on Indiana law and I thought it said he can only charge fair market value. I also read we were entitled to have reasonable notice when he came on the property. That we were entitled to peaceful living which we definally did not have ( I did take many pics/videos of him coming and going all the time) Do we have any rights? The 45 day deposit letter he sent us just said he was charging us $180 a year his loss. Is it vaild? He has no intention on fixing or replacing the counter plus he is still using it. Do we have any rights? He also asked us to lie for him if the county assesor came by. He is saying his wife lives in the rental under her maiden name so he can claim the homestead exemption. Is the lease vaild if he does not even own the home? The home is under his wifes maiden name only. Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your time.
Landlords are not always right. Tenants are not always wrong. If your facts are correct, you might have a very good case. Indiana has a security deposit statute that poses a “Zero Sum Game” for landlords. If a landlord wrongfully holds a security deposit after the lease ends, the landlord loses. If a landlord fails timely to provide the “45-Day Letter” and any security deposit balance owed to the tenant, the landlord loses. So, landlords should be careful to follow the “45-Day Letter” Rule very carefully.
Sounds like this landlord is trying to cheat you, Fight it. Don’t let him charge you for a new countertop, when you did not even damage the old one. Right is right, and this landlord is wrong. You should consider going to small claims court. I would need to see your evidence and the lease to be certain about your best options.
You might want to read this post- Indiana’s Security Deposit Law
Matthew A. Griffith is an attorney, business performance coach, mentor and entrepreneur. He coaches, advises and guides business owners, entrepreneurs, inventors, property managers, investors and real estate professionals. Matt has nearly two decades of experience helping businesses grow.