Rentals in 80013>Question Details

jhwang8, Home Buyer in Brooklyn, NY

We are renting a home but will be moving out soon. How much of the place do we have to fix up?

Asked by jhwang8, Brooklyn, NY Thu Jun 20, 2013

The owner, a 'friend' of my parents, said that she will take 'legal action' if we do not fix up the home to her liking before we leave. I told her that we would fix up everything that was caused by us and put this home back into the condition that it was in when we first moved in.

For example, when we moved into the home there were problems with a few of the windows. (The windows are double-hung and the tilt latches were broken so when the wind would blow a bit hard, the window would just fall inward). She is saying that we have to fix all of the windows before we leave. We have a copy of the lease agreement and we had listed a few things that were problematic around the home (ie. windows, carpet, screen, etc...). However, we were not very specific. Would we need to have written out a detailed explanation of each problem for us to not fix the windows ourselves?

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Terry Farnsworth’s answer
The property must be in the condition is was when it was moved into - minus the "normal" wear and tear that one would expect over the course of the year.

Pre-existing issues with windows would typically not be your responsibility to fix, UNLESS you had identified a problem, not let the owner know of the problem, and by continuing to use the damaged window incurred additional damage as a result. Keep in mind that I don't know the exact details of your situation, and we are not attorneys, so it's really hard for us to comment on who would ultimately be liable for fixing what.

I have seen this situation play out time and time again - so, not to "lecture" you, but the lesson learned here is to be ultra dilligent when documenting the move-in condition of the home initially. Take pictures of everything, open and shut doors/windows, turn everything on and off, go over the place with a fine tooth comb, and document, document, document - even if it seems silly or unimportant. Make sure everyone involved is aware of all issues, and the condition report is signed prior to move in. It's better to "go overboard" initially, then have to argue with a landlord/owner after the fact.

I would first sit down with the owner calmly and explain the situation. If she refuses to compromise with you - and does ultimately take legal action - I would consult an attorney in your area on how to proceed.

My personal opinion however is, if it's just a few latches on the window, I can't really see how you would end up in court over it. Surely, you both can come to some sort of agreement for the repair and move on with your lives...

Hope this helps!
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013

This is a legal issue and not one that we as Realtors and without more specific information about your lease agreement. I suggest that you contact a real estate attorney to help you sort this out. Your solutions should be according the law, your lease, adn the advice you obtain from legal council. Not from the pressure and insistence from the 'friend of your parents'.

Robert McGuire
Your Castle Realestate
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
In my area a home is to be "broom swept" clean and presentable.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
You need to leave the home in the condition when you initially rented it. Did you document the condition of the home when you signed the lease contract? Bill is correct, have a paper trail since verbal agreements don't carry much weight in the court system. Good luck! Did you have a deposit? That is usually up for grabs if you leave the property in a bad condition and the landlord uses it to repair the property. Each lease is different so take you time to review it.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
I would recommend beginning by providing the landlord with a copy of the lease agreement with the comments about your initial concerns. Even though you may not have elaborated on these issues it's good that they were pointed out. Show a willingness to work with them and document this for possible later use.

Additionally, consider requesting in writing, specifically what they expect of you with regards to these repairs. Ask for specific concerns so that you can either correct them before moving or respond as to why you feel the repair request is unjust.

Photographs, repair receipts, contractor estimates, etc. may come in handy should this be taken to the next level. Do what you need to do to be considered responsible but you shouldn't be expected to leave the property in better condition than it was when you moved in.

Good luck,

0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Jun 20, 2013
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