Ramblings from the Gryphon Rose

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Screwed by the Landlady

Last Friday was a lovely time. I went by the landlords’ to drop off our second set of keys and get back my security deposit. I already knew that the latter was only a possibility—not because we’d done anything bad to the apartment (we lived there for six years, never had a major problem, only had to get the landlord to fix something once, when the upstairs neighbor’s illegal washing machine caused the ceiling in our living room to leak, and we even redid the walls and ceiling in the bathroom because the seven to nine layers of ancient paint were peeling and hanging down in strips) or because we’d left it a mess (we’d swept it out completely, scrubbed the floors a little, removed all nails and tacks and tape, and generally left it as good as we’d gotten it—Jen had spent an entire day scrubbing it when we’d first moved in, and between us we spent a whole day cleaning it upon moving out), but simply because we both knew that the landlady could be an utter b*tch and often complained about her tenants (indiscriminately) and seemed to be the type to grab at every penny.
Boy, were we right on the mark there.
I got there just as my landlord (who we’ve always liked, but who certainly falls into the “hen-pecked husband” category) was getting home. Rather than talk to me himself, he called his wife to the door as he opened it, and then went in past her—he spent most of the next half hour behind her in the hallway, saying nothing. One time he tried to interrupt her to tell her something, and I’m amazed he had a head left after she snapped at him.
And yes, I said half an hour. That’s how long she yelled at me about what a mess the place was, and how we’d ruined every room, and how it was so disgusting that she’d shown it to two people already and they’d both run screaming, and how now she was going to have to pay to clean it, and how they’d given it to us sparkling and freshly painted and look what we’d done to it. I pointed out that WE had painted it (on Jen’s twenty-fifth birthday, which isn’t something we’re likely to forget), that we’d had to scrub it when we’d first moved in, and that we’d redone the bathroom walls and ceiling. Yes, the bathroom tiles need to be regrouted. I’m not the landlord—that’s not my job. And after six years it’s no surprise that they need that. Yes, I did break the soap dish in the shower, while repairing the walls and ceiling, and I apologized for that. But that’s really the only damage I’d done, and the place looked pretty good for six years of a single tenant, and for being right next to the LIE. And did I mention that, because we hadn’t found time to sell it, I’d left our fridge for them? We’d had to buy it when we moved in, and we would have kept it except that the house came with a bigger one. So I’d scrubbed it out and left if there, so that they could actually rent the apartment with fridge.
But of course they didn’t acknowledge that, or the work we’d done in the bathroom. Just kept going off about how filthy it was and how people had run screaming from it (gee, a month earlier and they could have made some good money by showing it as a haunted house, or at least a ruined old mansion). Finally she told me that she’d give me back half my security deposit—but if the cleaning came to less than the remaining half she’d give me back the difference.
Yeah, sure. Like she’s going to call me up and offer me more money.
By that point, as I’m sure she’d hoped, I was so sick of dealing with her that I said “whatever.” One of my friends thinks I should take them to court, or at least threaten to, and try to force the rest of the deposit out of them. But that’s a lot of effort, and a lot of antagonism. I’m inclined to just wash my hands of them and never go back. But what a note to leave on, after six years of being fairly happy with the place and with our landlord.
It certainly made me glad to go home, though.


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