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INtenant

Security Deposit

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My pervious landlord has used my security deposit and is charging over $200 in fees for replacing the carpet in our apartment due to "pet smell". Yes we have a pet. However, my question is why did they not attempt cleaning to remove "pet smell"; they stated that it is up the maintenance's discretion whether or not they clean or replace the carpet. How is that right, they have no policy or procedure to make this determination, basically he just walked in said is smelled like a pet so replace the carpet. He cannot prove that the smell would not come out because they did not attempt cleaning! According to IN state law, landlords are not allowed to use the security deposit for typical wear and tear. Is pet smell, if the apartment complex allows pets, considered normal wear and tear? If not, are they obligated to first attempt a reasonable and financially responsible charge such as cleaning as the carpet had "pet smell"? There were no soiled spots and they have no pictures of damage because it was just "pet smell". Also, I paid a non-refundable pet deposit which the lease states is used for property damage cause by the pet. Well if this isn't wear and tear, would it then be considered pet damage to the property, so why can't they use that towards the cost? I would also like to point out that when I talked to the assistant property manager and asked what the pet deposit was used for, he said "nothing". I would like to take them to small claims, do I have a chance? And my final question, the over $200 fee is due in 2 weeks, if I do not pay it says they will take it to collections (although the office manager stated she wouldn't bring to collections as we are in the middle of disputing the charges, however I don't believe them and feel they will take it to claims anyways). If I file a small claims form are they allowed to still take it to collections? I obviously do not want them to do this, what would happen if I paid the cost so they can't take it to collections, can I still file with small claims even though I paid it? Thanks for any advice and feedback!

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I'm going to summarize.

 

My opinion comes from my experience as a home owner, pet owner, former landlord, and insurance adjuster.

 

If you walk into a house or apartment and can smell the pets, that smell is not coming out. It's damage and the carpets will have to be replaced because the pets peed on the carpet and the carpet and the pad became saturated.

 

Don't believe for a minute, or expect anybody else to believe, that your pets don't pee when you aren't looking. They all do. You just become inured to it because you live with your pets every day.

 

Where pets are allowed, the landlord doesn't waive the right to collect on damaged carpet.

 

With regard to the pet "deposit" you have to look at your lease to determine if it's a refundable deposit like your security deposit or if it's "pet rent." In other words, an additional amount of rent for your pet to live there that had nothing to do with damage that comes out of your security deposit.

 

They can send the account to collections at any time if they believe you owe the money. Doesn't matter if you are in dispute. Everybody denies owing the money. That shouldn't prevent a creditor from sending it to collections, nor should a lawsuit because a lawsuit isn't evidence of anything until a judge says whether you owe it or not.

 

If you pay the $200 you will have agreed to an enforceable settlement of a disputed claim and, then, any lawsuit you file will just be dismissed.

 

If you want to file your lawsuit, you do it now and you do it for the full amount of your deposit and dispute all of the charges in court. That's how it works.

 

 

 

 

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HI @INtenant

 

Welcome to the community and thanks for posting! Looks like adjusterjack has offered some really helpful guidance! You can also check out this article about what deductions landlords can legally make for cleaning.

 

If you decide to sue your landlord in small claims court, you can review our materials about how to do so:

 

Best of luck and keep us posted!

The FindLaw.com Team

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Adjusterjack, I understand your point on pet stains and urine in the carpet; however when they replaced the carpet per the office manager they would have taken photos of the soiled carpet from not only on top of the carpet but also underneath the carpet/the carpet pad. They reported there were no photos taken, so to me that means there was no soiled/stained areas and they simply replaced it due to "pet smell" which I find hard to believe that pet smell (not pet urine) cannot be fixed with carpet cleaning. I have lived in other apartment complexes with my pet and was never charged for replacement of carpet. If you have anything else to add I welcome your thoughts, I would also like input from other members and the opinion of the admin, FindLaw, so I can get more than 1 helpful guidance on this topic.

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Perhaps you should have had the carpets cleaned before you did the final walk through.  I have 2 dogs that have basically ruined a one year old sofa due to 'pet smell'.  They have not pee'd on it.  Just them laying on it and licking has left a very distinctive odor.  I actually don't blame your landlord for not wasting time and money on attempting to clean it first, only to find it must be replaced after all.  Consider yourself lucky that it's only $200.00.

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17 hours ago, INtenant said:

my question is why did they not attempt cleaning to remove "pet smell"

 

First of all, we obviously have no way of knowing the answer to this question.  Second, what makes you think your landlord didn't try to do this?

 

 

17 hours ago, INtenant said:

Is pet smell, if the apartment complex allows pets, considered normal wear and tear?

 

I'm sure there is a threshold below which the answer is yes and above which the answer is no.

 

 

17 hours ago, INtenant said:

If not, are they obligated to first attempt a reasonable and financially responsible charge such as cleaning as the carpet had "pet smell"?

 

No law says this and, I'm sure, if this were to go to court, the judge would want to know if the landlord attempted to remove the smell by cleaning and, if not, why not.

 

 

18 hours ago, INtenant said:

why can't they use that towards the cost?

 

What does it matter which of two pots of money were used, as long as any unused portion is returned to you?

 

 

18 hours ago, INtenant said:

I would like to take them to small claims, do I have a chance?

 

There's no way anyone here can intelligently say that you have no chance, so the answer is necessarily yes.

 

 

18 hours ago, INtenant said:

If I file a small claims form are they allowed to still take it to collections?

 

Allowed to?  Yes, although I suppose it depends on what "take it to collections" means.  If you sue, any disputes between you (either way) would be embraced within the lawsuit.

 

 

18 hours ago, INtenant said:

what would happen if I paid the cost so they can't take it to collections, can I still file with small claims even though I paid it?

 

I don't really follow the question.  If you're going to sue, paying would be silly.

 

 

17 hours ago, adjusterjack said:

If you pay the $200 you will have agreed to an enforceable settlement of a disputed claim and, then, any lawsuit you file will just be dismissed.

 

That's incorrect.  It's possible to pay under protest (although, as noted above, if the OP intends to sue, doing that would be pointless).

 

 

16 hours ago, INtenant said:

when they replaced the carpet per the office manager they would have taken photos

 

But you said they didn't, so this statement is obviously incorrect.

 

 

16 hours ago, INtenant said:

They reported there were no photos taken, so to me that means there was no soiled/stained areas

 

That's one possible conclusion, but certainly not a necessary conclusion.

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