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Q: We recently moved out of a rental property (we actually only stayed 6 months instead of completing the 12 month lease but this was agreed with the landlord). The landlord hasn't found new tenants yet and seems to be trying to charge us for everything possible, to recoup some losses probably. Firstly there were some paint chips/scuffs on move-out inspection + 8 screw holes in the walls which I hadn't repaired. We both signed the inspection form to say this 'damage' was done by the tenant and I acknowledged we would be charged for repair. The landlord mailed me to confirm the work would be done. I agreed but asked what the cost would be. The landlord had the work done before telling me the costs and is now proposing to keep $250 from our deposit for the work. This seems like a lot of money to me but the work is already done - should the landlord have got our consent to the amount before going ahead ? Is there any way I can fight paying it ? I thought $100 max ! Secondly, our tenancy ended on 1st Nov but the landlord doesn't live locally so on 31st Oct they told us they would not be in town and asked us to hand keys over to another party and to arrange a time to meet them. We ran late on moving day (1st Nov) so e-mailed landlord to say we needed more time to clean (2nd Nov) and then agreed to meet key holder on 3rd Nov. We didn't hear back from landlord and since we'd had a good relationship so far we assumed this would be fine. Now landlord also wants to withhold 3 days extra rent from our deposit for late key return. I'm really disappointed in them that they feel this is a just action - I could have done a very quick & dirty clean around on the 1st Nov but I knew they were 'picky' and wanted to clean the place up properly for them !! hence took a bit longer - now I'm wishing I hadn't bothered !! I've read up and it seems to be their right, but they never mentioned it would be a problem - they just chose to email me about it 3 weeks later, didn't even have the decency to discuss in person. Do we have any rights in this respect ? Not to pay...? I have appealed to their better (?!) nature....
Thanks alot in advance.
A: From what you write, it appears that you and the landlord agreed to end the tenancy early. But now he is squeezing you for dough. You think the landlord is inflating his actual costs / expenditures. You are probably right – it is human nature, and common in situations such as you describe.
If you want to flip things back at the landlord you might consider the following: the legislation says that on entering into a tenancy agreement, the landlord can request a security deposit of up to one-half of one month’s rent. This money is not to compensate the landlord but is a financial instrument providing security against possible debt or damage that may be caused during the course of the tenancy.
The landlord must return the security deposit within 15 days of the end date of the tenancy unless the tenant has agreed in writing that the landlord can keep any or all of it, or the landlord has applied to retain the security deposit in accordance with the Act, or unless an Arbitrator has ordered that any or all of the security deposit can be withheld.
Section 38 of the Act says: (1) Except as provided in subsection (3) or (4) (a), within 15 days after the later of (a) the date the tenancy ends, and (b) the date the landlord receives the tenant's forwarding address in writing, the landlord must do one of the following: (c) repay, as provided in subsection (8) any security deposit or pet damage deposit to the tenant with interest calculated in accordance with the regulations; (d) file an application for arbitration to make a claim against the security deposit or pet damage deposit.
Section 38(6) says: “If a landlord does not comply with subsection (1), the landlord (a) may not make a claim against the security deposit or any pet damage deposit, and (b) must pay the tenant double the amount of the security deposit, pet damage deposit, or both, as applicable.”
So, you can ask the landlord how come you didn’t get back your security deposit within 15 days of the end of the tenancy. In which case, does he realize that the shoe is actually now on the other foot? And how does he like it now that you are about to squeeze him for dough? It appears that you may have a case for double the deposit back. In which case, I trust you'll feel generous and kick in an extra donation to people who can really use some dough - the African PreSchools.


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