Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Turning Point

Is That A Spider Or A Yellow Labrador Retriever? 

I've always been sort of an easygoing woman.

Generally, it takes a lot to get me riled up.  Oh, don't mess with my kids or my pets, but other than that, we'll get along fine.

I'm not inclined to fight over the small stuff.  In fact, the small stuff may irritate me but I won't let it get me in an uproar and take action to make my point.  I let things slide.  It's easier that way.

In 1989, Alex and I were renting a house in San Francisco.  Our landlord, (I'll call him "Ron" because that was his name), was a weirdo.  Ron came over to check the house about once a week.  He had some excuse that he needed to check the paint, the plumbing, the electrical, the back yard or some excuse.  He complained bitterly about former tenants to us as well.  He had rented the house previously to 5 young men who were in college.   He said they had nearly destroyed the house in the 2 years they had rented from him.  He sued them for damages and was awaiting trial when he told us about having to clean, make repairs, and so on.

(Probably, a house full of college guys is not my first choice of a tenant, but I'm a simple Mexican woman, so what do I know?)  Ron had planted an idea in my head that he was not going to be like every other landlord I had ever had.  I had never had even a portion of a security or cleaning deposit withheld after I moved out.  I left places I rented as clean, or cleaner, and as good a shape, or better, than they had been when I moved in.

A few years passed, and Alex and I were considering buying a house in Alameda across the Bay from San Francisco.  We found a nice place and turned in our notice to Ron that we would be moving.  Ron told us he had plans to sell the house after we moved.  He even brought over paint and carpet samples for me to look at so that I could tell him what would look best.  (The house had not been painted before we moved in, by the way.  It seems the college guys had not messed up the walls.  Just everything else.)

We had lived in this house for 5 years.  And we had paid Ron $1,500 per month in rent over a 5 year period.  We had also given him a $3,000 security and cleaning deposit.  When you do the math, we had paid Ron $90,000 in rent.  That is a chunk of change.

Alex and I came back to clean the rental house after we had moved.  I told Alex we didn't need to concern ourselves too much with the carpets and the walls because he was planning to paint and re-carpet.  There were no holes in the walls, but they obviously needed a paint job, and the carpet was fine with a good vacuuming.  On impulse, I took our little camera and took photos of each room as we completed the cleaning.  I also took photos of the inside of the oven, the top of the range and the interior of the refrigerator.    (Because we were thinking of buying a house, we really wanted our $3,000 deposit back.)

A couple of weeks after we moved, we got a letter in the mail from Ron.  There was an itemized list detailing why he was charging us the entire deposit of $3,000 so we would be getting no refund on the deposit.  Further, he was charging us another $75.68 for his costs.  Ron enclosed a self addressed stamped envelope for us to remit the check to him for $75.68.

Alex and I were both in shock.  The house had been left in perfect order and we had the photos to prove it.  Ron had included charges for burned out light bulbs and his time to replace them.  He also charged $1.00 per wire hanger and his time to remove 4 of them that had inadvertently been left in closets.  Further, there was the matter of a small plant that had obviously been run over by a car's tires on the side of the driveway.

There was no choice.  We took him to small claims court and we won, not once, but twice, as he appealed the first decision.  Our photos were proof of the state the house was surrendered in.  Ron had photos of his own.  One of his photos showed a dirty corner of a room from the floor view.  Fortunately, there was a spider in the photo that looked the size of a Labrador Retriever.   I think he was using a 500 to 1 zoom lens on his camera.

The judges ruled in our favor and we did get our money back.  That's the first time I've ever said "Oh hell no!" about something related to just me.  The funny thing is, if Ron had just given us back $1000, we probably would have not bothered at all.

That's actually not the complete end of this sage.  There is more, including an act of vandalism which will be confessed to tomorrow.

1 comment:

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