My Last Landlord Wants me to Pay Extra for Damages my Cat Made Although he didn’t Refund my Pet Deposit, What can I do to Avoid Paying Extra?

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“I just recently moved out of my apartment on Sep. 11th because my lease was up and I did not want to renew it. When I moved in I paid a 250 dollar pet security fee which was said I would not get back just in case there was any pet damage done they could use the money for the repairs. Also I had been living in this apartment for almost 3 years and every month they charged me 10 extra dollars on top of my rent for having a pet. Well when my lease was up and it was time for me to move out there were a couple of places on the edge of the carpet where my cats had clawed and unraveled the carpet some but I did not take any actions to replace the carpet on my on because I was under the impression that the 250 I paid when I moved in that I wasn’t getting back and the 10 dollars extra I had been paying every month for the whole time I lived there would cover it. The carpet damage was not very much and the apartment is a really small one so I new that the money I had already paid in just pet fees alone would replace all of the carpet in the whole apartment and then some. A week before I moved out the maintenance people came in and did an inspection and I did not get anything saying that I was going to have to fix the carpet or pay for it before I moved out so I was still under the impression that my pet security fees and the other money I had paid every month covered it. Well now about a week after I had moved out they sent me a letter saying I owed them 900 dollars because they had to replace the carpet due to pet damage. So when I called them to ask them why the large amount of pet fees I had already paid did not cover it they told me that those fees were just for the privilege of having a pet on the premises which is not what they said when I first moved in. If that is the case then since my pets and I moved then why wouldn’t I get that money back. And now they are saying if I don’t pay the 900 dollars they are going to send it to collections. What can I do to avoid paying this or it being reported on my credit because if this was the case then they should have told me during the first inspection so I could have had it replaced myself because like I said the apartment is very small and I could have got it done for way cheaper than 900 dollars?”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Landlord-tenant rules vary considerably from state to state, and sometimes even within a state, so you should check your local rules to see if any of them may apply and help you in this situation. However, unfortunately, very few legal protections exist for renters with pets.

That having been said, you still do have a contract with your landlord which is enforceable, and he is still subject to the ordinary rules with respect to tenants. In particular, the fact that the planned replacement of the carpet was not mentioned at the early inspection does cut in your favor. Also, how old was the carpet when you moved in? If it was new, that’s one thing, but perhaps it needed replacing anyway, apart from the cat damage?

Ultimately, this is probably a fact question, and you may end up in small claims court to resolve it, if you cannot reach an agreement with your ex-landlord. You can either sue them to get your security deposit back, or wait for them to sue you.



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Author: House Attorney

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