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Landlord wants to use deposit to replace blinds he claims are "sticky". Says it's cheaper than charging to have them cleaned.

Bellingham, WA |

Our landlord is like a guy that wants to store his car in a garage and polish it with a diaper, but needs to lease it out as a taxi so he can collect the monthly lease fees from the taxi driver. Then, after 26 months of normal use and regular maintenance as a taxi, when the taxi driver returns the vehicle clean and undamaged, the owner points to minor provisions in the lease and demands the taxi driver pays to "restore" the taxi to it's "original condition". For instance, our move in inspection noted there were 3 tiny spots on the sink that had been filled and marked as "repaired". Then 6 months after move in, he installs a new sink because he charged the previous tenant to replace the whole thing. Now he wants to charge us to replace blinds, carpets, counter tops, repaint, etc.

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Attorney answers 1


Good analogy, faulty reasoning on the landlord's part. You can only be responsible for taking care of the place and utilizing it normally. If something is damaged, then you can be charged to fix or replace it. If the blinds are "sticky" were they that way when you moved in? Did you break the blinds? By break I mean smash them to pieces or cut them up? You cannot be expected to de-stickify blinds that were sticky when you got there. You can be expected not to break them.

The sink issue is interesting; it would be especially interesting to see if he sued the previous tenant for the damage to the sink but failed to fix it before you moved in.

You cannot be expected to be the carpet faith-healer. You can take care not to soil or damage the carpets, but at the end of your tenancy, if you have not committed damage on the carpet, arguably it is just wear and tear. In this climate, carpets get grotty no matter what you do, even if you never spill anything on them.

The important thing is to be ruthless when you fill out the walk-through checklist at the beginning of the tenancy, and take a lot of pictures when you move out. It is also patently unfair to be charged for damaging something that is not called out in the move-in walk through checklist.

Elizabeth Powell

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