Now, my sister lived in this place in college, one of my friends lived there until she left for NYC, other friends moved in and out, to the point where we called it the commune. It was almost the cheapest rent in my college town, mostly because the buildings haven't been remodeled since the 60s, but they're pretty spacious and the grounds are nice, so we flocked there like the silly people we are.
Upon my sister and the aforementioned NYC-bound friend moving out (same summer, different months), they were both shorted on large amounts of their security deposit by "carpet stains", being told that they couldn't match the carpet and therefore had to replace the entire thing. Now, this carpet is the plainest, beige, classic apartment carpet you've ever seen in your life, so not only was that BS, but we come to find out that the office had intended on replacing the carpets anyway, so they basically made the tenants pay for their carpet replacement. Magically, the person who had initially inspected their apartment and assessed the damages "didn't work there anymore", so there was no paper trail to catch them in the act, and both my sister and the friend ended up not pursuing charges because the lawyers would've cost more than the deposit was worth.
However, they were happy to spread the word to those of us still living there that we should be careful upon moving out. I had intended on taking pictures of the condition of my place when I left so there were no questions, and I made it clear to the office in a polite letter that I wanted a list of the damages and the name of the person accountable when we left.
We had a 12 month lease with an automatic month-to-month option if we didn't renew our lease by 60 days before the end. My fiancee and I's initial roommate was moving on to another apartment, so we decided to stick with the month-to-month and see if we could find another roommate. We did, and then he completely backed out in May (our lease was "up" May 31st), so we made a hasty decision to see if we could get out of the apartment early. My fiancee asked the office if we could get our lease broken early, we were told that since they had so many other lessee's interested in moving in, it wouldn't be a problem for us to leave earlier than 60 days.
I still wrote a letter to the office to get this confirmed in writing, giving our desired move-out date (35 days from the date of the letter), and my requirements for the security deposit damages, etc. I received a letter back with all of our move-out information, a checklist, and the statement "your move-out date of 6/16/06 is confirmed and within the agreements of your lease". I was given a pro-rated amount for the rent, happily paid, and considered that done.
I was also told I'd get the security deposit within 20 days. Awesome. Surprisingly, they even had the new buildings supervisor (who was also someone I'd made buddies with) come over the day before we moved out and walk through the apartment with me. I watched him write "no charges" before he handed me my copy of the damages report, and I was ecstatic to be getting my entire deposit back (I had paid the $860 up front for my roomies, in a time when that was pretty much all of the money I had).
I couldn't believe my luck. This was all so easy! Being a skeptic, I wasn't surprised when the security deposit didn't arrive within 20 days. I wasn't that put off when it arrived today, since that was still less than 30 days, and they had 60 by law. However, I still expected to open the envelope and have a fancy $860 sitting in my hands.
The check was for $545.36.
Why so low, you ask? Did they charge me to fix the lead-painted windows? The tilting toilet in our half bath? The chipping paint in the bathtub from when it was poorly coated the year before?
Well, in a letter dated 7/15/06 (ooh, from the FUTURE), they explained that we were not within our lease agreement to leave when we did, that we had to give them 60 days notice, but since they filled the apartment within a week, they gave us a "discount" on the rent we owed for the rest of June, and then took the balance out of the security deposit! So, I avoided the carpet-replacement BS my friends encountered... Only to be charged for not living there at all. Great. Not only that, but there's a "past balance" also due, which I assume is from them poorly pro-rating my June rent. Awesome.
Hopefully I can find their return letter in my packed boxes that are sitting in my future mother-in-law's basement. That should be fun. I'm sure they will say that they never sent me the letter at all, or it was mysteriously deleted off of their computers or some such, if I can't find my copy. Cross your fingers that I can.
I could further deface this particular apartment place by talking about how it took WEEKS to get our dishwasher's massive leaking problem fixed, or about the time that our showerhead knob came off and they sent someone over... who walked in, looked at the tub, and walked out again. And never came back. But I won't.