Continuing to examine and hold a lively discussion of the Northern Virginia Real Estate market.
Please post your local house search updates, MLS finds, on-topic ideas, and links here.
way OT - a rental question if i may?so i'm not going to renew my current rental SFH and the management company sent me a 'check out' list. i'm surprised by a few items and wonder if they are common renter responsibilities (the lease doesn't spell out in such details) - Carpets professionally cleaned by approved company; paid receipt provided at check out. We strongly suggest using XYZ Clean. Upon inspection, if the carpet is still not clean and different carpet company used, we will call XYZ Clean to professionally clean the carpets at the Tenants expense.(why can't we clean it ourselves?)- Fuel oil tank filled and copy of receipt provided if applicable.(what's an fuel oil tank?)- Chimney inspected by approved company; cleaned if necessary; paid receipt provided. (we only lived here for less than a year, so i really don't see the need for an inspection as they've claimed its' inspected and cleaned before renting it out to us less than a year ago. and we only used the fireplace for about 20 days.)thoughts?
MM, it depends on what your lease agreement says. if your lease says you must have the carpets professionally cleaned, then you must. if it only says the carpets must be cleaned, then they can't require you to hire someone to do it.
MM,I would kindly ask them in a letter to point you to the appropriate paragraphs in the lease that show where you agreed as Tenant to take on these obligations.
MM,We had to do all those things (clean a clean chimney for $100 and professionally clean the carpets) and more when we moved out four months ago. And then they found nitpicky things (truly), charged an extra service charge for each, and managed to use up $750. We're used to working *really* hard on the move-out clean but never succeed. They got mad about a $3 water filter, for example, which we had to remove because we didn't have enough water to clean with. The filter would clog up with dirt once a week from the well and we were so tired of trips to the store we left it out for last-minute cleaning. They charged us $100 for that. Stuff like that . . . I've never hoped to get my deposit back.
MM: we were looking at a place that had that level of detail spelled out (gutters cleaned twice a year by company XYZ, must provide receipt for proof), but this was clearly spelled out in the rental agreement.
My mom just moved out of a condo that she was renting, and the owners charged her $70 to move the entertainment center away from the wall, re-hook up the TV and VCR together (yes, it was a VCR and not a dvd player)and then move the entertainment center back. Suffice it to say, these people were really awful to her despite that she left that condo in better condition than prior to her rental. I wrote them a nice letter on her behalf telling them that she had no such obligation under the lease agreement. It also helped that the owners did not follow FL law. They failed to give her the appropriate notice that they intended to make a claim to part of her security deposit. Since they did not give adequate notice, the statute says they forfeit all right to any part of the security deposit. I'm curious how this will all turn out. At this point, it's definitely not about the $70.My mom actually considered not sending the letter requesting her security deposit back because she was afraid this owner was going to seek retaliation in some way.
I've usually had similar check-out requirements MM, I don't think those are unusual. They *should* be but they're not. Management companies know they're in a strong position to milk you for that money. I've had similar experiences to Tabitha and have lost considerable chunks of my security deposit for very questionable items.
Speaking of bad rental experiences, is there anything I can do about the fact that my apartment complex, which consists of an East and a West Tower, has only 1 elevator working on the West Tower, with 21 floors + 3 underground levels of garage parking? I would say this has been a consistent problem for about 3+ years. The East Tower has 2-3 elevators working so it's more of an inconvenience than say a safety issue, although I'm secretly hoping there is some kind of regulation requiring a minimum number of working elevators per number of residents.
MM, I've either had a person-as-landlord or military housing offices, and neither are fun.For military housing, obviously, they made all the rules and we had no choice but to follow them. When we lived in a concrete-block, 700sqft bunker of a townhouse on base in Quantico for seven months, we had a list of "approved" cleaners for move-out. If we used one on the list, they assumed responsibility for anything done improperly; if we went off the list, it was at our own hazard. We used one on the list. Cost $550. The building was condemned right after we moved out.For person-as-landlord, we have always been totally, in my humble opinion, taken advantage of. The advice to politely ask for them to point out the lines in your lease which require such actions requested is excellent. That is all you are legally obligated to do.I won't repeat my whole bitter story from last summer, but here's an update: our landlord, who kept our entire security deposit because of things like "dust on the ceiling fans," is going to become a "geo-bachelor" because they cannot sell their house for anything near what they paid for it in 2003 ($450K, currently worth about $330K). I'd rather lose $2100 than $120K. But it was still just so wrong.
From a Post article today about foreclosure protests:Veronica Peterson of Columbia was among the protesters yesterday. She held a sign that read, "Foreclosure Free Zone." In 2006, she said, she bought a $545,000 four-bedroom house with two loans at 11 percent and 8 percent, with a promise from her lender that she could refinance with a fixed rate after six months. Peterson, who is self-employed, fell three months behind on her mortgage payments and was evicted. She said no bank would allow her to restructure the loan "because the loan agreement was fraudulent. They misrepresented my income. ACORN found all these problems. Legal Aid found problems." "My loan should never have made it through underwriting," Peterson said. "I had a 750 credit score. Now my credit is destroyed. I'm going to have to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy for the first time in my life. We're at the point where we're willing to get arrested." Asked whether she could afford a home at that price, Peterson said yes, based on her income at that time as the owner of a child-care business. Protester Annie McKinzie said she lost her $250,000 home in October. "I got a letter telling me I had a three-day notice to leave," she said. She bought her house in 2004 with a fixed 10 percent loan. But when she turned it into a fixer-upper with an adjustable loan, "that's when the problems started," she said. "I moved into another home . . . and I'm renting now."
tabitha,I like how they're shifted from people you could feel sorry for to people you can't feel sorry for, and just letting them dig their own hole...here's her linkWaPo story on foreclosure protestsI'm sorry, if you needed a piggyback loan, it would never have made it through underwriting, and you fell 3 months behind on the mortgage, what in the world do you mean by saying that you could afford that home? If it were priced appropriately maybe, but it's not the interest that's the problem, it's the price and your naivetee.Gotta love it.
I am not a lawyer, but my uneducated and biased opinion follows:As others have said, check the rental agreement carefully to see if this is all spelled out. If it isn't, consider the following and read this, esp. pages 20-21 and this.Tenants have legal rights in Virginia to reclaim their security deposits in full unless you have damaged the unit beyond reasonable wear and tear. The unit should be clean, but need not be done professionally. However, if you do get it cleaned professionally, even with an occasional housecleaning service, save your receipts.It is the lessor's responsibility to maintain the unit and restore items that were worn through wear and tear not the tenants. Unscrupulous lessors tend to forget to mention this and will try to get you to pay for their responsibility. Professionally cleaned carpet: not your responsibility. Regular vaccuuming is sufficient. The management company may say they had the carpet cleaned professionally before you entered the unit. You can thank them for this, but it still isn't your job to have it professionally cleaned.Damaged carpet: staining, rips, anything beyond normal wear and tear: your responsibility, but only up to the depreciated value of the carpet. So if the carpet is a few years old, your responsibility lessens. If you have damaged the carpet and believe professional cleaning will alleviate the issue, you should get it cleaned.Fuel oil: are you sure this applies to your case? Sometimse these check out items are form letters. I suggest ignoring this.Chimney cleaning: not your responsibility. Just make sure the fireplace area is clean.I do not advise confrontation with the management company unless they confront you. Do your best to clean the unit so it looks presentable and *insist* to be present ideally with an extra person at the exit inspection. Ask for an opinion on the spot on the condition of the unit. The lessor is not required to provide this, but it can help you gauge if you will have trouble. If you get pressured about the receipts and such, remind them that is not your responsibilty beyond reasonable wear and tear. Consult the links I gave for recommendations on how to communicate with the landlord in event of a dispute.If there is a dispute, you can resolve the issues in small claims court relatively quickly and without a lawyer if you wish. Simply keep good documentation and pictures of all disputed items. You can argue for damages if the lessor does not promptly repay you or follow correct procedure. Even if you have damaged the unit, if the lessor does not follow correct procedure, they void their right to the security deposit. Be sure to maintain copies of all written correspondence and use certified mail in all communication in case of dispute. If it gets nasty, make sure to use postal mail to communicate. You can accept partial refund of the security deposit and still contest it in court. And remember, the best way to resolve a legal dispute is to raise the prospect of one and then push for mutually acceptable agreement before going to court. These management cos know they can pressure tenants. Show a little toughness and they will back off unless the item under dispute is expensive. A lessor doesn't want to spend a lot of time with these things either espescially if they risk getting penalized by the court.Consult a lawyer or a free legal aid society (in the first link) before taking action. To those who lost their deposits, I don't know statute of limitations in these cases, but if you think that you have been treated illegally by a landlord, you may still have legal remedies available to you espescially if you still have the receipts from the cleaning services.
thank you all for the posts on my 'check-out list' questions. (blacksilver2010, muchas gracias for the post and the link). i've already lost the entire $2500 sec deposit of my previous rental (foreclosed), so i guess i'll try my best to get some back this time.an unrelated question: has anyone had any experience with Sawbucks Realty? my coworker bought through them and highly recommended it. don't think they're a 'discount' agent per se but buyers get savings on settlement and loans.
Tabitha, Cara,I don't GET IT. A 750 credit score and an 11% and 8% interest rate? My only guess is that she really was uneducated or mentally challenged enough not to get it. Enter ACORN, I guess.But . . . then it says she owned a child-care business, and if she had a 750 score, she must have known *something* about paying bills.There's got to be more to the story. I wish the Post would have followed up on the stories of the protesters there. Something is not adding up.
MM: you're welcome. One caveat (and reason to consult a lawyer), make sure that your lease is subject to the VRTLA. Even if not, there are still contract law provisions that can protect you, but the language in your lease will be more important and this will become a contract law issue.You may be able to recover your previous security deposit. Unless your lease agreement contained a clause in event of foreclosure determining the actions, the obligation to return the deposit to you rests with the new owner of the property. That new owner has the obligation to get the deposit from the old owner and return it to you. You can either file a claim against the original owner or the new and original owner jointly for return of the deposit plus penalties and interest. The statue of limitations for this could be as much as 5 years, so if this is recent, you still have your lease documentation and there is no lease clause governing this, your chances are good to get it back. For this reason alone, a 30 minute meeting with a lawyer could be worth it. If the previous owner declared bankruptcy, your options are more limited but your security deposit should have been part of the bankruptcy as an asset and you would be considered another creditor. When negotiating a lease, I suggest to read very closely and change anything that sounds onerous. Landlords don't like this, but will put up with it. I recommend adding a clause stating that the lease agreement is subject to the VRTLA and any requirement in the contract in conflict with the VRTLA is void. This is often the case automatically, but it never hurts. Any landlord that refuses is one you don't want to work with. You can also make the VRTLA and other lease negotiations a contingency when holding a property prior to lease signing so you won't risk any pre-lease deposit. Once that clause is in the agreement, it will override any other funny stuff a management company puts in.
Past stories involving Veronica Peterson:Post Article from Oct 2, 2008.City Paper responding to a Baltimore Sun front page article published July 30, 2008, involving her as a "victim". They looked into the numbers and estimate she made a single payment, maybe.It's disappointing that she can't move on. Seriously, it's been a couple years, she screwed up. Own up to it, take responsibility, and move on with your life. Nobody owes you anything.Additionally, it does not reflect well on the Post when they user her as a source YET AGAIN.
Randy,that's awesome. thanks for the links.JF,Congratulations!!! Home Sweet Home.
randy,You're the man.jf,may your success come my way soon! blessings!
Cool, glad to hear you found something that works well for you. Please let us know how things go.
tabitha, as i read your periodic posts about your house-hunting process i completely empathize with what you are going through. i think you and i are very similar in how we have hunted for deals via non-traditional routes and tried to provide data to sellers to show why our offers were appropriate.i tend to pursue properties where there are unique circumstances or no competition. i've been known to knock on doors of houses to see if they are interested in selling, to contact the owners of known rental houses to see if the landlords would sell, etc. you don't know unless you ask.sometimes you get your hopes up and think a deal might happen and then the owners flake out on you. this happened to me recently (before i lined up the house i'm now buying). i made an offer on a house, which was rejected outright because the price was too low in the owner's view.several months later, the owner contacted me to say she was now interested in selling. i said my offer price was unchanged from before and she responded by telling me to go ahead and write her a contract. naturally, i took this to mean that she was willing to sell at my offering price.so i paid a lawyer to write up a contract and sent it off to her, got my hopes up really high, only to have her respond that my offer was way too low?!?!?like the other properties i've pursued, the house i'm buying now was not on the market. the owners had some unusual extenuating circumstances which allowed me to get the house for a very good price.anyway, i guess my point is keep your head up, keep trying, and eventually you'll find something great at a great price.
jf,I'll have to keep your post handy the next few weeks, to stay sane.I am thinking of the "knocking on doors" method for the neighborhood in which we currently live, because we have two ideals: to stay where we are or to go out to the country. The country house I love is not ruled out entirely--I still have hope--and new places out there come for sale every day. But in the meantime, the neighborhood in which we live has two sides: a modest and a quite nice/yet mixed side. The modest side is where we are renting, and a house just a couple doors down just came on the market yesterday for $199K, so I think that pretty much means our landlord will never sell to us, because our appraisal will come in far under his lowest acceptable price ($300K as of December). That leaves the other side, which is mostly old folks who had their houses custom-built in the late 70s-early 80s. One house that had been for sale for three years just sold last month, and several others sat on the market for years are still there or have renters now. All are icky. But there are so many beautiful homes...if I could catch someone like you did, that would be so ideal! Please share your tips as I post my progress. It is hard working outside of the box.
Tabitha, Cara, Harriet,I have absolutely no sympathy for these people. It might sound cold-hearted, but nearly every sob story out there has at least some subtle clues as to the buyer's culpability.A few months ago, it was about a lady that was chaining herself to her foreclosed house. She had owned it for over a decade, so it didn't make sense that the banks would take it away. Ended up that she refinanced about ten times, sucking out hundreds of thousands of dollars of equity, spending it on god-knows-what. And now the she is protesting???? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?!?!?!?!?!
blacksilver2010,wow that's one wonderful piece of information about getting my 'foreclosed' $2500 check back! i'll definitely look into it pronto. one quick question, on Arlington county website the owner is "RCS REO I LLC" which i assume was the foreclosure proxy of a bank. do i file against RCS REO I LLC or do i have to wait until it's sold to another party (home is still on the market)? do you know?again, thanks much!jf,so it was you who knocked on my door the other day! just kidding, congrats and best of luck!
I don't GET IT. A 750 credit score and an 11% and 8% interest rate?My only guess is that she really was uneducated or mentally challenged enough not to get it. Actually, it's not that unusual. According to this article from the WSJ, in 2005 and 2006 more than half of all subprime loans went to borrowers whose credit qualified them for non-subprime loans.http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB119662974358911035.htmlThe reason is that mortgage brokers made a lot more money on the subprime loans than on standard loans. They'd push the low initial payments the easy qualifying, or other features. It was often no contest when a (somewhat) experienced broker tried to sell a mortgage to a neophyte buyer. The seller knew the product, the buyer was clueless; they didn't even know what it was that they didn't know. The buyer saw the broker as someone on their side, helping them to buy a house, rather than someone trying to sell them something. It never occurred to a lot of these buyers that a mortgage broker would offer them a lousy mortgage when they qualified for a good one.On top of that, a lot of brokers had drunk the Kool-aid themselves. They really believed that the borrowers would be able to easily refinance or sell at a profit when the teaser rate expired. It was a Win-Win situation. They got a nice fat commission, and the buyer got into a house they couldn't have afforded otherwise. Of course, a lot were just greedy and didn't care what happened once they got their commission.Obviously, the borrowers should have done their own research. But even if they did, how many would have understood the options well enough to choose. There's a lot of people who just want to know the bottom line: What's my monthly payment. Get into the details of rate adjustments, caps, etc. and their eyes glaze over.For the ones who learned it, it was an expensive lesson.
check this out...http://www.mlive.com/business/ann-arbor/index.ssf/2009/02/tax_break_for_home_buyers_out.html
JF,Congratulations!Since it is an unlisted property, did you use a lawyer to review the contract?
BYE BYE ---15K HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT---http://www.wtopnews.com/?nid=111&sid=1590845
tedk, not this time. but i had just had a real estate lawyer draft an offer a few months ago, so i was very familiar with all of the terms/choices in the standard NOVA contract.but in general, it's well worth paying a couple of hundred bucks to have a r/e lawyer help you with the drafting if you are making an agentless offer (especially if you need any non-standard clauses written into an offer).
manju said: "BYE BYE ---15K HOME BUYER TAX CREDIT"As much as I am opposed to any sort of credit from a philosophical point of view, I must say that since I knew I was in the process of getting a contract on a house I was a little excited about the prospect of getting my slice of free government cheese. Oh well.
MM: I urge you to consult a lawyer or legal aid center before going any further. RCS REO LLC may have no knowledge that the previous owner had this obligation. If you never had any dealings with RCS REO LLC, you may want to start with just the original owner with whom you had the contract. The jointly filed option is more appropriate if you continued to rent with the new owner. If you left when the foreclosure happened, there may be less liability on the new owner. A lawyer can advise on this. You could start with a dated letter sent by certified mail to the original owner and demand return of deposit within 30 days. If no response or compliance, you can threaten court. If this did go to court, you can demand reasonable attorney fees, penalties and interest, so you can make a good case that the original owner should just pay you and be done with it.If you live in Fairfax county, also explore the resources here. I don't know what other counties may offer. Ultimately, the security deposit is *your* money, and the landlord only held it "in security" against you not holding up your end of the rental contract. The obligation to return your money is not altered by the property's foreclosure.
Hey John,You still get the $7,500 "loan". :-) I am so happy to hear your news! What a great location. I was just feeling nostalgic for some of my favorite restaurants there in my former life.I hope it all goes well. A friend of mine found her house by having her agent send letters to everyone in a very particular neighborhood expressing her interest to buy. She found a seller and got a good price.@ Randy, Tabitha, Cara, etc., re: this foreclosure story. Thanks, especially to Randy for remembering and posting the past Veronica Peterson stories. I had never read it. (A google search would have been my friend.)I am now livid about this -- and shame on the Post for not doing due diligence (maybe I'm nostalgic, and I'm not *that* old, but was reporting ever worse than it is now?) And of course the obligatory "ACORN is the good guy helping defenseless victims" approach in *both* of their fake victim stories.I'll make a post about this.
Great news, JF! Congratulations!
Post a Comment
Subscribe in a reader