Q: What are my rights when disputing claims of damages after moving out of an apartment?
I moved out of an apartment and the landlord, besides keeping my $630 security deposit, sent an invoice for an additional $1500, all for supposed damages. The damages were for things like paint, carpet, and blinds, all of which were 15 years old because I was a long-term tenant and the items were never updated during my tenancy.
I filed a dispute in small claims court, still to be heard, arguing essentially that such items cannot be considered as damaged because they are well beyond their normal life expectancy.
The landlord already sent the bill to collections before the case has even been heard. Is this legal?
What are my rights and/or prospects here?
What amount should I have sued for, my security deposit or the deposit plus the false damages bill?
A: I cannot imagine any collections company getting involved this early without a judgment in the landlord's favor. In Small Claims Court it usually comes down to which side of the dispute the judge or arbitrator feels best presented their case. This is known as prevailing by a preponderance of the evidence. You did not say you had taken 'exit' photos but if you are believed that all the claimed damage is not anything more than normal wear and tear you should prevail and recover perhaps double the $630 security deposit. Why did you not have a walk-through before you moved out?
Tim Akpinar agrees with this answer
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