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03:20 pm: first and last months rent
When I moved into this apartment, I paid first and last month's rent to the landlord, and a realtor fee equal to another month of rent. ("Is there a security deposit?" "No, this landlord just wants first and last month's rent.") As February will be my last month living here, I thought February rent had been pre-paid.

The landlord just turned up demanding rent. In the world as he understands it, "last month's rent" can be re-imbursed after the tenant returns a clean apartment with no nicks or scratches. But only an irresponsible idiot would take it as any kind of license to not pay. *eyeroll*

I'm looking for a new apartment, and concerned about this guy being a reference for future landlords. Even though the most critical information he is likely to give a future landlord is that I can be bullied.

This entry was originally posted at http://adrian-turtle.dreamwidth.org/19748.html. Please comment there using OpenID, or here as usual.

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From:sovay
Date:February 3rd, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC)
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I'm looking for a new apartment, and concerned about this guy being a reference for future landlords. Even though the most critical information he is likely to give a future landlord is that I can be bullied.

Does the lease include mention of a security deposit? If it doesn't, Antonio has nothing against you. I very well remember that we paid him first and last and the equivalent finder's fee to Len: no deposit. Antonio already has his money for the month of February if you're moving. I'm not at all surprised that he's trying to pull this stunt, but I am sorry.
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:February 4th, 2014 01:50 am (UTC)
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The lease does not mention security deposit OR last month's rent. I don't know where such things would be recorded, if they are recorded. I had the lease on the table when he was here shouting at me, but caved anyhow. It's embarrassing. It took him less than an hour.
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From:juliansinger
Date:February 3rd, 2014 09:38 pm (UTC)
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In my lexicon, which is I believe the accepted one around the Boston area, "first month and last month" means, in fact, first month and last month. If they want a deposit, then it's called a deposit. (So you are not insane.)

The question of whether he can force funds out of you is a separate issue, though I would hope not, and actually, that'd be something quite legally actionable. (Not that you have the money to deal with the judicial system, but.)
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From:the_smith_e
Date:February 4th, 2014 01:16 am (UTC)
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Very sorry to hear that.
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From:mrf_arch
Date:February 4th, 2014 01:23 am (UTC)
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"Last months rent" is not the same as "security deposit". Were the funds properly deposited in an escrow account? Were you given the account information?

The law in Massachusetts is pretty tenant-friendly. You may wish to remind the landlord of the various legalities that he does not appear to be familiar with
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:February 4th, 2014 01:45 am (UTC)
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He shouted at me until I caved and paid him what he insisted was February rent. (Yeah, it was a dumb mistake.) Now I'm wondering if I have any recourse.

I managed to lay hands on a copy of the lease while he was here scolding me, and it didn't mention that last month's lease was already paid at signing. That was enough to cast doubt on my memory and let him convince me it was a security deposit. Only the lease doesn't mention any security deposit EITHER. So the big question now is whether he can be compelled to return the money.
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From:sovay
Date:February 4th, 2014 02:03 am (UTC)
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Only the lease doesn't mention any security deposit EITHER. So the big question now is whether he can be compelled to return the money.

On 15 February 2013, I wrote a check to Benoit Real State for the equivalent of a month's rent. On 22 February 2013, I wrote a check to you for half first's month's rent and half last month's rent minus half of the finder's fee to Benoit Real Estate. If we had paid a deposit to Antonio at that time, it would have been recorded in the transaction. Would you like me to summon the requisite paperwork from Citizens Bank?

Where was your housemate at this time?
[User Picture]
From:adrian_turtle
Date:February 4th, 2014 03:00 am (UTC)
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I really appreciate having your memory back mine up. The notes in my checkbook just indicate how much I paid him, and when, and don't say whether the money was for security deposit or future rent or what. I don't know how the bank records (either Citizens, or my credit union) could prove it was a deposit.

Where was your housemate at this time?

Probably at his office at Tufts. He gets home late Monday nights. Last week, he was about to write a check for February rent, and I explained that February rent was already paid because it was the last month before we moved out. (He had misremembered it as a security deposit arrangement.) So when I paid the landlord this afternoon, I thought K. could just write me a check tomorrow for his share.

Now I'm wondering if I should contact Len the realtor to ask for clarification of this last month's rent thing. I am also tempted to call my credit union and just stop payment on the check I wrote this afternoon. I have a rental application in process now, for an apartment in Arlington. I don't want to ruin it. Somerville is lovely, but I want a new landlord.

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From:sovay
Date:February 4th, 2014 03:22 am (UTC)
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I don't know how the bank records (either Citizens, or my credit union) could prove it was a deposit.

The amounts prove it wasn't. If we'd had a first/last/deposit arrangement, we'd have paid three times the rent to the landlord himself at the start of the lease, not twice the rent to the landlord and an equivalent to the rental agency. Benoit certainly wasn't holding that money in trust for us. Antonio is trying to backdate the security deposit, but the finances don't back him up.

So when I paid the landlord this afternoon, I thought K. could just write me a check tomorrow for his share.

Talk the situation over with Ken. Get him to support you in refusing Antonio. It's his unexpected money, too.

Now I'm wondering if I should contact Len the realtor to ask for clarification of this last month's rent thing.

You don't need a clarification. You need Len to confirm that the third original payment went to him as his broker's fee for finding the apartment, not to an escrow account as with a security deposit—and I don't think you need to contact him to do that. I left you the folder with all paperwork related to the lease. There should be copies in there of the Massachusetts Mandatory Licensee Consumer Relationship Disclosure, the Mold Addendum, the Rental Brokerage Fee Disclosure, and the Tenant Lead Law Notification. The Mandatory Disclosure states that Len was working as a rental agent in the transaction and the Fee Disclosure states how much he was paid for the service. Put together with the check numbers and addressees, that will prove who the money went to. Feel free to e-mail or call him, though, to let him know this is happening. He was very, very clear in the spring that he had no leverage with Antonio, but if Antonio is going to try to claim that we agreed to pay him first/last/deposit in Len's presence (as the lease-signing took place; we both have e-mails confirming that), you can at least ensure that Len won't back him up, either.

I am also tempted to call my credit union and just stop payment on the check I wrote this afternoon. I have a rental application in process now, for an apartment in Arlington. I don't want to ruin it. Somerville is lovely, but I want a new landlord.

(a) If you feel you are being extorted, stop payment on the check. I don't think it will make a difference to the new landlord.

(b) If it's worth the extra money to you to get out of this landlord's apartment and you can live with that, whatever.

There may be other options I can't think of right now.
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:February 4th, 2014 04:24 am (UTC)
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if Antonio is going to try to claim that we agreed to pay him first/last/deposit

The landlord is not claiming we had a first/last/deposit arrangement. He is claiming we paid him first+deposit, when we actually paid him first+last. Either way is 2 months rent to him, separate from the realtor fee.

If you feel you are being extorted, stop payment on the check

While I do not believe Antonio is generally acting in good faith, he probably did not set out this afternoon to do extortion. It's possible that he would like to believe he has a security-deposit arrangement with us, now that he knows us to be Bad Tenants who tape insulation over the windows. If he takes February rent now, renames it as a "security deposit," and pays it back next month...I could live with that.

I'm afraid he would not be obliged to return this "security deposit," because it's not covered by the lease or any written agreement. Even if he recognizes some obligation to return the deposit after paying for damages, we don't have an agreement about "beyond normal wear and tear," or anything like that.
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From:sovay
Date:February 4th, 2014 06:23 am (UTC)
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He is claiming we paid him first+deposit, when we actually paid him first+last. Either way is 2 months rent to him, separate from the realtor fee.

Except that first+last is non-refundable money and first+security is at least theoretically the tenant's money, forfeit only if they bash up the place. I have no doubt that Antonio would try to hang on to any security deposit we had paid him, but the principle still stands.

Even if he recognizes some obligation to return the deposit after paying for damages, we don't have an agreement about "beyond normal wear and tear," or anything like that.

In fact, if we had agreed to a security deposit with Antonio, there would have been paperwork; we would have had bank information. Damages would have been discussed in the lease. A Security Deposit Receipt is not included among our forms, because we never gave the landlord a security deposit.
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From:adrian_turtle
Date:February 4th, 2014 05:30 am (UTC)
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Even if its not exactly extortion, we are going to stop payment on the check in the morning.
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From:sovay
Date:February 4th, 2014 06:23 am (UTC)
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Even if its not exactly extortion, we are going to stop payment on the check in the morning.

I think that is very sensible.
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