11 September 1992
I recently received your letter, dated August 31, 1992. It is good to finally receive some response from you, however I was quite taken aback by your request that we pay you over one thousand dollars for expenses that you incurred from preparing the house for occupation by your new tenants. I have tried frequently to contact you by telephone, over the last four months, to discuss our agreement with regard to the thermostat that I left behind. I do not understand why I did not receive any response from you this past summer. I left my telephone number and address numerous times on your answering machine and at least once with your husband. I believe I called you about once a month, trying not to be too bothersome, and had decided not to pursue the matter after my last telephone message to you, in early August. It is seems from your letter that our lease termination and departure were not as complete and amiable as we had been led to believe.
In late April of this year, and on occasions previous, you inspected the house to effect repairs or alterations. We were not informed, prior to our departure (and lease termination), of items or work that would require further reimbursement. Furthermore, you asked us to try to vacate as early as possible, so that you could prepare for the new tenants. I informed you that we would try to give you as much time as possible. Rene and Claus moved out on the weekend of the 25th, and I completed my move on the 29th. I also informed you that you could begin inspecting the house prior to our leaving if you wished. Your plumber completed an inspection and repairs, accompanied by yourself, well before any of us had departed. I feel that it is completely inappropriate for you to request reimbursement for any of your itemized costs, without any previous agreement or discussion with Claus, Rene or myself, four months after our departure and lease termination. However, for your (and my own) edification, I will try to address each of the items stated in your letter.
1. Cost to remove garbage from the shed, beside the house and the basement (bottles, etc.).
I can assure you that we did make an effort to identify and remove our personal property and 'junk'. When we moved in, however, you should remember that there was considerable space occupied by items that we did not wish to have, but were willing to keep at the house, while you established yourself at your new home. If you remember, for example, the work/storage room contained many items, such as a large trunk, a container of records, posters, assorted memorabilia, a box of tiles and other construction and maintenance materials. The furnace room contained numerous containers and miscellaneous items, while the cold room behind the furnace contained many bottles and boxes. The outdoor shed contained many items as well, including an apparently discarded air conditioning unit, broken lawn furniture and other miscellaneous house and garden items. The top of a kitchen table could be found in behind the shed. We of course left behind all of these and similar items. I personally had inadvertently left a steel utility shelving unit in the work/storage room, but beyond that, I recall attempting to collect any items or garbage that appeared not to have been generated prior to our occupancy. It is possible that we left items that perhaps we should have taken, however, I would remind you that Claus and Rene had completed their moves days earlier, and I too was attempting a hasty exit, at your request.
2. Cost to have walls, baseboards, cupboards washed.
In general, when we arrived, the walls looked like those of any lived-in house. However, some walls, namely the smaller upstairs rooms that I am most familiar with, had numerous unsightly holes in them, and dark abrasion or grease markings, possibly from previously mounted items. I was forced to cover these spots with wall hangings, since I was unable to remove the discolorations. I do not know if item 2 is intended to extend to the bathrooms (or even if it goes beyond the kitchen for that matter), however it should be noted that the upstairs bathroom could not possibly ever look really clean. When we moved in, the paint was already peeling off the ceiling and the window frame had begun to rot from exposure to water through cracks in the paint. One would assume from its condition, that this bathroom was in need of some work, and that perhaps you assumed we might be willing to tolerate such a state for the time being, or the term of our lease, and indeed we did. I believe we left the bathroom as clean as might be reasonably expected, given its inherent physical state. Additionally, the paint on the baseboards, at least in the living-room/hallway areas, was cracking and constantly breaking away from the beginning.
It is rather difficult to comment with regard to the initial cleanliness of the cupboards, since I did not inspect them all, and I simply wiped down the surfaces of the cupboards I had chosen for my personal use. However, there was certainly a fair number of discarded items on some of the cupboard shelves upon our arrival.
3. Cost of have carpets cleaned.
No substantial carpet stains, beyond normal wear and tear, were evident nor pointed out to us by yourself, with the possible exception of the kitchen carpet. That carpet initially contained grease spots, somewhat expectedly, and I would admit we probably added a few more during our stay. I don't know how successful your cleaners were, but for your information the more heavily used carpets in the living‑room, upstairs hallways, kitchen and two smaller upstairs rooms were cleaned just prior to our departure. I did notice a carpet stain, normally covered by furniture, towards the northwest corner of the living‑room, which is perhaps the one to which you specifically refer.
4. Cost to repair plumbing.
I understand that we, as tenants, are not responsible for major repairs to the plumbing, unless of course we have obviously caused the plumbing damages ourselves. The only leak that we noticed was related to the kitchen sink, and it was evident only occasionally when the sink was filled to capacity to wash large containers that would not fit into the dishwasher. This is the item that was repaired by your plumber before we left.
5. Loss of revenue for two weeks while repairs and painting could take place.
Consider: 1. You, as landlord, are responsible for any time (including that between tenant occupancies) and money that must be spent on regular repairs, painting or improvement; 2. the fact that you requested and were granted ample time to inspect the state of the house, and effect repairs, through what we perceived to be an amiable understanding; 3. we received no indication, prior to (or even shortly after) the lease termination, that you believed there were damages that we should cover, except perhaps for your suggestion that we compensate you for your estimated cost to replace a section or sections of the front lawn, near the driveway, or at the rear of the house, near the clothes hanger. As mutually agreed, we reduced the cost to you for the purchase of the washer and dryer set that we left behind.
It seems inappropriate to consider that we should pay for your lost revenue, not only because we do not accept responsibility for the unspecified additional repairs and painting, but because you could have completed such work during the period of our lease, especially in the days prior to our lease termination.
I have been advised by legal council that I should also quote the following portions of the Landlord and Tenant Act, with respect to some of the issues.
94. - (1) A landlord is responsible for providing and maintaining the rented premises in a good state of repair ... despite the fact that any state of non-repair existed to the knowledge of the tenant before the tenancy agreement was entered into.
Re: wall paint and the bathroom in particular.
(3) The tenant is responsible for the repair of damage caused by willful or negligent conduct of the tenant or of persons permitted on the premises by the tenant.
We certainly did not willfully damage anything, and you did not mention any damage resulting from our negligence, except perhaps for the lawn near the edge of the driveway, for which we compensated you.
I have also been advised to request that you immediately pay $45.00 to me, or return my thermostat. This is of course with regard to the money you agreed to pay to me in exchange for the electronic thermostat that I left installed in the house. This agreement was between you and I, and is not subject to consideration of matters involving others.
I hope that we can come to a mutual agreement, sometime in the near future. I will be sure to copy this letter to Claus and Rene, and perhaps to Bob as well.
David N. Green