This Redditor turned to Reddit’s Malicious Compliance thread and advised people to know their rights when she and her husband had a conflict with their previous landlord, who charged them $400 for a phantom pet!
Journey Back to the Past
OP (Original Poster) and her husband rented a house 10 years ago while trying to find a place of their own. They found a rental, and OP said the landlord “seemed so nice,” and their overall situation was great.
When the family found a place they could buy, they handed the keys back to the landlord and asked for their deposit. However, it took him two months to release the deposit, and the couple was shocked when he did.
OP said that their landlord had taken $400 out.
Gross Outdoor Carpet
The house OP and her family rented had an enclosed porch with screens and no glass. It had outdoor carpeting, but because it was constantly exposed to the elements, it became disgusting and filthy over the years.
Trying to Make the Best Out of the Situation
OP and her husband had kids, and they didn’t want them to come into contact with the gross carpet, so they had a remnant put in place to cover it up.
She shared, “It wasn’t ideal, but it was a rental.”
The Root of the Issue
When the family moved out, they rolled up the remnant and threw it away—leaving the original outdoor carpet. This is what the landlord was using against them.
OP wrote, “The landlord stated in his letter that he was taking out the $400 because we had broken the lease by having a dog—and his proof was the condition of that carpet.”
The problem was OP and her family didn’t own a dog, and “the carpet was already gross” when they arrived.
She said they tried to explain, but the landlord would ignore their attempts to reach out. She also said, “Plus, how do you prove the absence of something?”
Cue Malicious Compliance
OP and her husband were furious that their landlord “wanted to follow the lease so carefully as to make up animals,” so they checked their rights as tenants.
Sending Back Deposits
In their state, landlords were required to pay back the deposits within a month. However, OP’s landlord took two months to do that!
You Have to Pay Us!
Because of that, OP’s landlord is liable to pay them up to three times their initial deposit. In this case, their deposit was $1,800, so their landlord could be required to pay them up to $5,400!
Time to Sue
OP and her husband sued their previous landlord.
She said, “We no longer wanted the $400 back; we wanted $5,400.”
Their landlord tried to dodge them several times, and OP said that he even had out-of-state attorney friends try to intimidate them. However, he eventually had to hire an attorney.
They ended up settling on $2,000 in addition to the $1,400 they got back.
In the end, OP and her husband got back their full deposit and thousands out of their settlement. They didn’t even have to pay for an attorney because they filed with the help of a friend; they just had to pay for the filing fees.
It clearly didn’t go as well for their previous landlord. OP shared, “He ended up paying $2,000 plus attorney fees instead of our $400 for a phantom dog.”
A Piece of Advice
OP ended by leaving everyone with a piece of advice. She said, “Know your rights as tenants!”
The Community’s Suggestions
Sadly, many Redditors experienced something similar to OP.
One shared, “This is what pretty much everyone I know that rents in Miami do. The landlords here are scum. And they won’t just take part of your deposit for a bit of damage either; they will take the whole damn thing. So hundreds of pictures are taken before we even move in. We even take pictures of the insides of cupboards and any little crack in the paint we can find; most of us are pretty proactive about it now, having been burned once or twice when we were younger.”
Remember to Document!
Like most Redditors, this user wanted to remind everyone that it’s crucial to put everything into writing and ensure you have concrete evidence to show at the end of your lease.
He said, “Yes folks, take pics moving in and out. Most importantly, inspect premises, find damages, and have owner/agent/landlord management sign and date every page of this written report too.”
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