Don’t fall for these 10 crazy landlord claims
Your landlord has a legal obligation to you and to the rental agreement you both signed. Learn about some of the false claims a landlord may make – and the truth behind them.
A landlord's claim: "You don't need a dishwasher; just wash them by hand." // © David C Ellis/Getty Images
If ever there is a time to turn up the skepticism, it’s when the landlord starts “explaining.”
Take these buzz phrases, which lead off one poor excuse after another:
“If you don’t like it ...”
“No one else ...”
“I can’t afford ...”
Please – someone hit the gong and put a stop to the show!
Like it or not, if you’re a renter, you are involved in a business transaction. The landlord isn’t dad, isn’t your dorm mother, isn’t even the goofy but lovable Mr. Roper next door. He’s a businessman, and no one promised that business dealings would be fair, ethical or even honest.
So before you sign, give in or pay, know first and foremost when to cry bull.
To help, here’s a starter plate of some typical outrageous landlord claims and why, according to the experts, you shouldn't swallow them. Perhaps you’ve already heard a few of them yourself, or even fallen for some. Read on, and don’t make that mistake again.
1. Landlord’s claim: ‘You can just do the dishes by hand.’
Tenant’s response: “Yes, I know it’s possible to do dishes by hand. I’ve even done it before. But the apartment that I am paying you to use came with a working dishwasher. That was the deal.”
“You can’t just let it remain inoperable and expect that you’re going to get the same rent,” says Janet Portman, a landlord-tenant lawyer and author of “Every Tenant’s Legal Guide.” “It’s just basic contract law.”
Portman cited the case of a tenant who, when the landlord refused to repair the dishwasher, put a pad and pencil in the kitchen and noted every hour he spent washing dishes. He then multiplied the final tally by the minimum wage and submitted the amount in court as damages owed.
“It was evidence, it was absolutely related to the fact that the dishwasher no longer worked, and the judge thought it was brilliant and he gave it to him,” Portman says. “And the landlord got the message; he fixed the dishwasher.”
2. Landlord’s claim: ‘It was like that when you moved in.’
Tenant’s response: “Oh, good, so you knew the blinds were broken. Great, now come fix them.”
Bing: Search & decide
This landlord excuse is also known as, “You rented the apartment ‘as is,’” and is an all-too-common line. Unfortunately, it may be a valid claim for cosmetic matters or shoddy workmanship. But it doesn’t give the landlord a get-out-of-repairs-free card. State law (in every state except Arkansas) guarantees tenants an “implied warranty of habitability,” regardless of when they spotted the flaw.
If it’s a safety or health issue, tenants in many states can deduct the cost of repairs or withhold partial rent. But be warned: Get advice from a tenant advocate first. You can’t just stop paying all rent, as many renters believe. Nonpayment is grounds for eviction. Instead, send the landlord a certified letter requesting repairs. Then search online or ask a city council member for the name of a tenant center in your area.
“We ask them if they want to stay or they want to move,” says John Fry, assistant director of the Illinois Tenants Union. “If they want to stay, we can help them pay reduced rent until they get repairs. If they want to move, we can help them break their lease.”
3. Landlord’s claim: ‘That will get fixed . . .’
Tenant’s response: “Great! Just give me a call when it’s fixed and that lease will get signed.”
“Again and again I hear, ‘The landlord promised me this.’ And that’s what it was, a promise,” Fry says. “Absolutely do not sign a lease, do not give a landlord any money, until what you see is what you want, because that’s all you’re ever going to get. Ever.”
Granted, it’s not easy. You may want to secure the place or start off on a good note and be trusting. But it’s your home, probably for at least 12 months. Do you know the landlord personally? Have the neighbors vouched that he makes good?
Remember, this is business.
“Repairs cut into profits,” says Ken Carlson, a landlord-tenant lawyer in California. “Need I say more?”
4. Landlord’s claim: ‘What a mess. I needed all your security deposit to fix the thumb-tack holes.’
Tenant’s response: “Oh my goodness. I am so sorry that while paying you $15,000 to live in your apartment last year, I actually lived in your apartment.”
“The landlord will make all kinds of claims that the tenant trashed the place and dare the tenant to do something about it,” Carlson says. “And because tenants have no idea what their legal rights are, they just pay it. So theft is rewarded.”
OK, here are the rules: A landlord may not charge a tenant for normal wear and tear. Small nail holes used to hang pictures? Normal. Ordinary paint discoloration? Normal. Minor scuffs on floors and carpets? Normal.
If you actually do damage something, the landlord should provide a written receipt detailing the repair costs along with the remainder of your deposit. And no charging for marks that were already there!
“We were in one situation where a landlord used a hole in the wall to steal the security deposit and he never repaired the hole,” Fry said. “We had three tenants and they all moved in with the hole in the wall, and he never fixed it and he stole all of their security deposits.”
5. Landlord’s claim: ‘Water? Noise? Talk to the neighbor.’
Tenant’s response: “OK. How about if I go talk to the neighbor about what an unresponsive landlord you are?”
Karen Tuominen, a communications consultant, rang her landlord the day she moved in to her Brooklyn two-bedroom to say that it was raining — inside.
“He literally said to my face, ‘You should really say something to the guy upstairs because he takes these wild baths. He fills it up. He’s got candles all over.’
“It was outrageous,” she says. “And I guess he didn’t think I would ever ask the guy. But his bathroom was completely dry. And now he’s a friend of mine.”
Later the tenants bonded again, this time when the landlord refused to exterminate for bedbugs and blamed individual tenants instead.
In both cases, he was forced to make repairs. A tenant’s contract for a habitable dwelling is with the landlord, not the neighbors.
LETS TURN THIS AROUND A LITTLE BIT... Take these buzz phrases, which lead off one poor excuse after another: “If you don’t like it ...I am not gonna pay" “I can’t afford ...” MY RENT THIS MONTH.
Please – someone hit the gong and put a stop to the show!
Like it or not, if you’re a renter, YOU ARE INVOLVED IN A BUSINESS TRANSACTION... That goes both ways.
I'm in a lease purchase contract and I have $6000 already down on the home on top of paying $1000 for rent.. In the contract it says we are responsible for repairs under $300.. thats fine I agreed to that.. Here's the problem, our a/c went out two days ago and so we had it inspected and the repair tech said we had to replace the whole unit..costing $5000 or a used unit for around $1500....We called the leasing agent or realestate agent and she said she couldnt afford that..Now she wants to call someone else to look at it and get cheaper prices.....I mean its like 90 in the house and its not gonna get any cooler.. I just want to know what my rights are in this lease purchase contract...If anyone could help it would be appreciated...thanks
I wish I knew if I could take a tenant before the judge without an attorney for how they left my trailer. I left them use it on a month to month basis and if I knew I could make them move out if I was not pleased with them I would have the second month they were here.
They never gave me notice they were even moving out just that they were thinking about it and not in writing . They left and have not been back and I have not even gotten my keys back yet.. They left 5 bags of garbage on my porch and the trailer a mess. Never cleaned from the time they moved in until they left. . Left my self cleaning oven never cleaned. It took me 4 and a half hrs to clean self cleaning oven even after I self cleaned it . Then it took 3 and half hrs to clean top of stove. All kitchen chairs were broken with seats off and lazy boy chair torn. Also they told me to use securtity deposit to pay for oil they never filled the oil tank there was very little in the tank. Also they did not pay water bills they owed and they are in my name. Lease says they cannot tell me to use the security deposit for the oil.. It is only for cleaning of the premises. So does anyone know if I have a good case or not. I think I do . i have a signed lease from them. on all of this. Any one have any ideas about this
I'm sick of hearing about Tenant's Rights!!!! My last tenant signed a 12 month lease and stopped paying after the 1st month because she knew it would take months to get her out….it turned out she only needed the house for 4 months because the closing on her new house was delayed….The day she left she confessed that she only wanted the house for 4 months because their new home they'd purchased wasn't ready, she knew tenants had rights and paying two months' rent for 4 month was all she need and gave her sufficient time to close on her house before she was evicted.
It cost me $550 legal fees because I had to start eviction proceedings, plus all the lost rent….and when they left they'd trashed the place, and left me with 4 months of wet and soiled diapers and stinking garbage in the garage piled up to the roof!!! Not only that they'd left the key to the house under the pile for me to find! The house was completely painted and new carpets installed before they went in, everything ruined, because not only did they have kids they also had a dog, a snake, a lizard and a bird…..they were given time trash my property and rob me of 2 months rent, plus the cost of repairs, because the law requires that I can't evict them there and then after they've failed to pay their rent! And what can I do to get my money back, I can keep the security deposit!!!! Or I can sue them, ha! That's a joke, I can't afford to…..and these people know this!
All renters make me LAFF, because you pay rent you believe it gives you the right to destroy other peoples property!
Right, normal wear and tear!
Dump garbage and grease down the drain so it clogs the whole system
break walls and doors
destroy carpets and floors
never dare clean the stove so when you move out it is so greased up that it’s garbage, right all normal wear and tear!
Let water leak on the floor until it damages the ceilings below!
Renters fail to realize you rent is paying for a place to live because to can’t or won’t buy a place of your own.
Let’s examine “a place of your own”.
You have to come up with:
Mortgage fees and payments
Taxes and insurance
Paint and decorating
Maintain and repair
Cut the grass and remove the snow
And the constant threat of LAW SUIT for neglecting to pick up the banana peel some lovely tenant threw on the steps at 3 AM and then fell on at 3:01 AM.
Yea, you got it so tuff, all you have to do is pay the rent and complain to the landlord about everything else (or not tell the landlord about issues that are destroying the property)!
Have you ever wondered why there is RENT-CONTROL, but no FOOD PRICE CONTROL, no WATER PRICE CONTROL (THE LONG ISLAND MERTERING SCANDAL) and GAS PRICE CONTROL?
All three are EQUALLY necessary to our existence!
WHY? Because the same BIG POWERFUL CORPS that control government control these industries!
Now with the housing crisis, soon all the rentals will be owned by BIG CORPS and guess you sorry @zz tenants will be SOL.
That’s right no more rental ordinances, no rent control, no one TO cry to?
My landlord gave me notice & I refuse to go, council took me in and all that took is 2 months.
Happy days. Sorry dear landlords but this was the only way.
Now I live in a 3bedroom council house, its all free & no more waiting for list.
10 years from now there will be no landlords left, only council renting properties (the old way). All Landlords would have had enough or let the council have the headache.
Tenants win win! (ha ha).