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Wooo Hoo! I won!

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tallen702 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 25 July 2012 at 4:57pm
So, our prior landlady tried to erroneously withhold more of our security deposit than was correct. She tried to charge us a year in arrears for a service call which she never stated she would charge us for, and for a diffuser lens for a florescent light in the kitchen which was broken upon our move in. She claimed it was $90 for the lens (b.s. found it for $25 on home depot's website) and $45 for the service call. I wrote her an e-mail as soon as I received the itemized list of what she was holding out of our security deposit and gave her 10 business days to comply with the refund. She didn't even contact me back. I sent her a certified letter explaining I'd have to take legal action if I didn't have the money in my hands by the end of this week. That got her attention. So after 3 days of her grousing and saying "I'm not going to pay, go ahead and sue me!" she finally came to her senses and realize she was over a barrel and had no rights and no proof, meanwhile I had TONS of dirt on her. Just got an e-mail from her stating she would pay the requested refund and have it to us by next Friday. I responded telling her she could hold out $5 for the total for a delivery confirmation and postage, and that I would agree not to bring suit if the check was in my hands by next Friday and cleared the bank (that's 2 weeks after it is deposited to make sure she doesn't stop payment). If she fails to do so, then she'll be in violation of a written agreement and I'll bring the suit.

The background is this. She rented a house which was zoned "R2" meaning 2 dwellings per acre here in Fairfax county. Her lot is less than 1/2 acre and there are houses on lots on either side. Essentially this prevents people from taking single family homes and turning them into apartments or duplexes. She illegally duplexed the house putting a separate kitchen and full bath in the finished basement and rented it on a separate lease to an individual who was given access by a separate exterior entrance. This breaks all the rules and means she was in violation of code for several years while she ran this. When the tenant moved out from downstairs, she realized she'd never be able to a) find another tenant due to the legality (there wasn't even a window in the advertised "bedroom") or in time to cover her mortgage expenses on the house. As such, she decided to kick us out and sell the house. She kept our security deposit for over 30 days to help kite the cost of repairs to the house which was already in bad shape, then only returned half citing various issues. Some legit (my wife's father installed those stupid kick-locks on the bottoms of the exterior doors because his wife is a worry-wart) some not. I called her out on the non-legit items and it degenerated into her throwing a verbal tantrum over e-mail and me calmly re-stating the facts and demands over and over. I think she thought I wouldn't go through with a suit, but it's less than $50 to file in small claims in VA, and only $12 to have the Sheriff's Deputy act as the process server in the case (they're more than happy to post it on your door for all to see or chase you down at work). It really wasn't about the money at this point. It was about me not allowing someone to walk all over me. So, kept at it, was going to go file tomorrow morning and voila. Today she caved and agreed.

So, lesson learned from this. Don't fall prey to someone who is in the wrong and degenerate the argument to one on a emotional level. Keep repeating the facts and the demands, and escalate, escalate, escalate.
<Removed overly wide sig. Tsk, you know better.>
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