Do I have to pay my past landlord who I think is just trying to scam me?
Question Details: I moved was on a 1 year lease with 3 others in a 2 bedroom apartment managed by a realty company. When we moved in, the apartment was not completely clean, so we took pictures documenting the mess left behind. The grounds were not taken care of and maintenance never took care of issues that we told the realty company about, which we have pictures of. We moved out 1 year later and took pictures of all the cleaning, vacuuming and bulb replacing we did before vacating. Instead of getting our security deposits back, we each got a letter showing charges for cleaning and vacuuming that added up to and past our $1050 security deposit. They are now asking for an additional $250 from us. Not only do I think they are trying to steal from us but I'm pretty sure the notice they sent us asking for the $250 isn't an actual bill. I believe they are trying to scam us. This letter isn't stamped or verified. It doesn't look like an actual bill. Do I have to pay this or are they just trying to get money out of me?
IF you caused damage to the landlord's property, or left debris requiring professional removal, and the cost thereof exceeded your security deposit, the landlord could sue you for any amounts in excess of the deposit. However, you are NOT responsible for to pay for regular end-of-tenancy cleaning and vacuuming: the normal cleaning of a unit as required before re-renting it is the landlord's responsibility. Also, as a practical matter, as a landlord-tenant attorney who has seen apartment cleaning bills, I can tell you with a high degree of confidence that "cleaning and vacuuming" does not cost $1,050--even if you had left more than a normal mess (which does not sound like it was the case), it should not have cost that much. You are being, and likely were, scammed. Not only should you most likely not pay the extra $250, since you'd only have to pay it IF the landlord sued you in court and proved, with evidence and credible testimony, that you caused them an extra $250 in costs above and beyond both normal wear and tear and the security deposit, but in all likelihood, you could sue for the return of part of you deposit, since it seems like an excessive amount was withheld.