Previous landlord used our Security deposit at a money grab.

Some Background: We lived in an apartment in North NJ and signed a lease where it was specially stated that we were paying "Pet Rent." Multiple times while living here we had issues with our plumbing, heating, and cooling and other things that we were very accommodating for even going an hour an half to shower. We also left this place extremely clean our entire stay including a nice deep clean when we left.

The land lord is trying to take off a lot of our security deposi, but there are 3 main issues with that we disagree with our security deposit:

  • Carpet cleaning - we lived on a Second floor apartment above a restaurant. We have two enterances one in the front and one in the back near the parking lot. This is where we came in everyday rain, snow, salt. This is where all of the repair men came in an out of. The land lord is claiming that after showing potential tenets the place that there was an order they said came from our dog. They charged us for their standard clean of $188.
  • Showering Clog - About a month before we were going to move out our shower started to not drain. After trying multiple things, including it starting to leak into the apartment downstairs they had to call a plumbe. The plumber snaked the drain and got the clog out. They never mentioned that this was going to be on us to pay for during the two weeks it took to fix. Now the landlord is claiming that the clog was because of excessive dog hair and is charging us $250. (note: I have long blonde hair that could easily contributed to the clog as well as living an old building with excessive plumbing issues)
  • Exterior Door "Repair" and painting - We had a security sticker on the outside of our door. we removed the sticker and there were some residual left (yes, we should have cleaned it but we forgot) now the landlord is saying to remove the goo and repaint the door it was going to be $250.

To us if shes going to blame the dog for the normal entry and normal living in the apartment then the carpet should be covered with the $1,200 paid in "pet rent" if she wants to go back and say it wasn't the dog again that should be considered normal wear and tear. For the exterior door, it just seems excessive for them to take $250 dollars for goo-gone and paint espec without a receip.

The advice I'm looking for is if this is worth pursuing in small claims court. The money isn't a big deal, it just feels like she's trying to take advantage of us. We had a discussion yesterday with them and it was not successful at mediating the situation?

Sorry for any typing errors typing all of this out via my phone was hard.

I do think they are taking advantage, but it also seems pretty normal. I was always told to assume you’ll get none of your security deposit back, but to be pleasantly surprised if you do. Another thing you can do from a practical standpoint is just not make your final rent payment and force them to be the ones to take you to court.I know someone who did the small claims court thing who is very clean, organized with paperwork, and good at negotiating, and it ruled in favor of the landlord.The pet thing sucks but is also not that unusual from what I’ve seen in the NYC area, and the financial requirements can depend on whether it’s cats or dogs and the quantity. More often I’ve seen it as an extra month of security deposit if you have a pet. The only real thing you can do about it is to look for a building that doesn’t have extra requirements like this.
Thank you! Appreciate the advice. It always helps having a third party look at a situation, I feel I’m getting blinded by emotions!
Np. I mean, if you have a lot of time on your hands and want to make her life more difficult, go for it. Even if she wins, it will create an annoyance for her. But the downside is that it will also take time out of your life!One other thing: I've noticed that the landlord's attitude/promptness towards repairs can be an indicator of how they'll behave with the security deposit. So if you are noticing that they aren't being ethical with repairs, it could be a sign that this will happen. I've had multiple NYC landlords who did pay it back in full, but those people were also good landlords while I was a tenant.
ElenaF731's profile thumbnail
I’m so sorry you have to go through this! I’ve lived in multiple apartments/houses in NYC and was lucky to never have such an experience, but I know plenty of people who have had it much worse and who never managed to get back at their landlords (at least not directly). I would honestly consult a real estate lawyer. Laws can be very different between states and it might be a waste of money and time for you unless you have a lot of documentation to prove your side of the story. Usually the first consultation is free and lawyers are usually best as assessing what you can fight for. Hope the next place you live in is nicer and has better people around 🤞🤗