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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    las vegas, nevada

    Thumbs up Ex-Tenant Claims Deposit Charges Too High, Wants to Take Me to Small Claims

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: NEVADA

    Tenant moved out in Aug.30 of 2010 after signing the walk-through and agreeing to damages....he has now sent me a certified letter claiming the damages are not his fault and that he wants most of the monies back. The main charge he is disputing is for replacing a cracked butcher block counter top near the sink. He claims that there is no way he could have caused that crack and that is what my neglect because i didnt maintain the counters with oiling them every 6 months.

    He lived there for 2 years and a few months and I did oil them down 2-3 times during his tenancy. The crack formed directly under a sponge holder which he kept on the counter. When i visited the home for a maintenance check i noticed water pooled on the counter (near sink), and i immediately noticed the sponge holder and the sponge that was hanging over slightly over the edge and very wet.

    I went to take a closer look at that is when I noticed the crack. It was of a significant size and immediately noticeable. I pointed out the water to him as well as the CRACK & he just grabbed the wet sponge and ran it over the water, placing it back on the sponge holder. The water wasn't even cleaned off properly, I knew that I had to go home and address this in writing to him, and that's what i did.

    There were a few issues in the house, like food SPLATTERED on the kitchen cabinet DOORS and extremely chipped away PIECES OF PAINT ON CABINET DOORS.

    Either way, at end of lease we did walk through and he SIGNED OFF ON THE PAPERWORK.
    Now the QUESTION is does he have any valid grounds to file a claim here in nevada ?

    HIS DEFENSE IS: that the landlord (I) didnt take care of counters and that the potential moisture around the sink area could cause damage to the counters. (I did tell him when he moved in to never leave pooled water on counters)

    MY DEFENSE IS : If it was moisture then why was the water pooled on the counter in that exact area where the crack was? Why didnt he inform me of the crack before I saw it?? If the counters crack due to not oiling them (which isnt true, THEY HAVE 25 YR WARRANTY) then why didnt the rest of the counters in kitchen crack???

    TENANT waited 3 1/2 months to send me this letter saying he wants the monies back that i assessed him for the counter and the cabinet doors. A total of $450 or so. He has also just cashed the remaining deposit check that we sent BACK TO HIM.

    Will this actually stand in court? or is this guy just out of his mind? Plain and simple the COUNTER was NOT cracked BEFORE HE MOVED IN, and before he left it was cracked.

    PLEASE LET ME KNOW...thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Ex-Tenant Claims Deposit Charges Too High, Wants to Take Me to Small Claims

    He is free to sue you for the unreturned portion of the damage deposit based upon any number of theories, including the theory that he didn't cause the damage, that any damage he caused was "ordinary wear and tear" and thus not subject to a claim by you, or that the amount you claim in damages is excessive.

    By way of example, he could claim that the crack in the butcher block resulted from "ordinary wear and tear" - that his use of it was normal, and that to the extent that normal use causes deterioration it's not "damage" that can be charged to him - that the butcher block did not need to be replaced, that if it did need to be replaced (assuming this is the case) you should have depreciated the block rather than charging him the full cost, or some combination thereof (and/or additional theories).

    Similarly, in terms of chips in the cabinet paint, some finishes are much more prone to damage than others. He could argue that the normal use of the cabinets, and normal bumps to the doors that occurs in the course of normal use, will cause the type of chipping that you're claiming to be damage but, again, is "ordinary wear and tear".

    He'll present his case, you'll respond with yours, and the court will attempt to decide which version is more credible. If you do go to court, make sure you have good documentation to support your claim, including evidence of the cost you incurred for repairs, and good pictures to illustrate why you believe the damage to in fact be "damage" and not "ordinary wear and tear".

    This reminds me of my situation a while back when I sold my old house. I had it fixed up "just the way I wanted it" when my wife proposed finding a larger home. A relative was in a similar situation with a house that had not been fixed up and chose to rent it out, hoping for housing prices to rise. I looked around and recognized that I would be deeply pained by what a tenant was apt to do to the home - even good tenants are apt to be considerably rougher than a typical home owner - and didn't even consider that as an option. Go to a high end rental that has been built and maintained by a professional landlord and you'll probably find details that fall well short of what you put into your house - granite works because it will stand up to pretty much anything, but you're unlikely to find butcher's block or any other kitchen counter material that's susceptible to scorching, chipping, cracking, water marks.... Because as a rule, tenants are rough on homes.

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