Residential Property Management/how to dispute
My family and I had rented from a rental management company in NM for the past three years. Upon moving out my husband did the final walk through with a company representative, she said "The house looks great" and that we were "great" tenants. A few weeks later I received a letter stating that on top of the $1100 deposit we owed them over $300 more. When we initially moved in, we had to do so "site unseen." They refused to let my husband see the house, do to the horrible condition it was in from the tenants before us. We were moving from a different state and had run out of options as to where to live. The company allowed us to move into the property within one week of the previous tenants departure. During our time at the property I had reported that the tacks in the carpet were poking through, (and stabbing my kids feet)but nothing was done. Most of the time I reported anything, the company threaten to charge me for it if they sent someone out to fix it.
The reason the company representative gave me for all the charges was that the house was "disgusting" and so filthy. The same company representative that did the final walk through did the initial walk through before we had arrived. In that report it clearly stated there was a shoe print in sand in the sink. The property was not clean. I feel it is extremely wrong of them to charge us for all of these charges. I feel the $1100 is more than enough to cover the wear and tear from my family. One of the charges was $174 for yard leveling...My question is...What, if any, course of action do I have to dispute the charges? and if so what?
Any advice you can offer would be greatly appreciated,
This is probably the most common question I receive. I always recommend taking pictures on move-in, and then again on move-out. There's no other way to memorialize the condition of the unit before and after the tenancy. It is also extremely important to put all correspondence regarding a tenancy in writing, because sure enough, it might be needed later. Verbal statements are practically meaningless in the event of a dispute.
If you have pictures and everything in writing, then you might be in good shape and you can take the landlord to small claims court. If you don't have any of that evidence, then you have a much tougher road ahead of you. As for the condition of the unit on move-out, it is your obligation to clean it, and the landlord can deduct for damages which are beyond normal wear and tear. Here in California, the landlord must provide you with an itemized list of any damages/repairs within 21 days of move-out.
So, I suppose the short answer to your question is that you can file a small claims lawsuit, but you need to be prepared to have the evidence necessary to prove your case.