Frugality and Fighting Against Renting Injustices

August 28, 2008

I was originally going to blog about my upcoming mortgage or the condo buying process or IRA limitations, but instead I’m going to rant about an injustice with my security deposit. I’m so glad that on October 3rd I will be done saving for my condo, moving for at least a few years and dealing with apartment people. I received my security deposit (or what was left of it) by mail today. The security deposit started off as $150.00 and a whopping $0.62 was added for interest (a whole 0.4%). Charges valued at $76.88 were deducted from the security deposit.

INJUSTICE

There were a few places where I thought we could lose some money from our security deposit. Some of the walls were dirtier than when we moved in. There were dirt and oil smudges that did not come off the wall. Additionally, there were holes in the walls from the Comcast cables. The holes were not made particularly stealthily, but they will provide utility to the future tenants.

I was not expecting to get all of my security deposit back. I did not, however, expect to be taken advantage of. Our deposit was charged for a rip in the screen door to the balcony and broken blinds. My roommate and I barely used the balcony for anything, which makes it highly improbable that the screen was ripped while we were renting. The blinds were definitely not new blinds and they were not abused in any way. We opened and closed the blinds as they are meant to be operated.

RANTING

Shouldn’t broken items during the normal wear and tear of a living place, such as blinds and a ripped screen (which was most likely not from us), be covered in the rent. Isn’t that what the rent is for? Shouldn’t the security deposit be for leaving the apartment less clean than entering the apartment? Shouldn’t the security deposit be for putting a hole in the wall or something to that effect? If your fridge breaks, shouldn’t the apartment management repair your fridge? So why do you get charged for broken blinds? How are blinds any different than a fridge? If they are broken, the rent should cover the repair or replacement.

Additionally, when we moved in I noted that the microwave handle was broken. Not only did management never repair the microwave handle, I spent an hour of my own time fixing it. It was not an easy fix as the whole inside of the door had to be removed. Later in the year our garbage disposal broke. Management did not fix this either. I got tired of waiting and fixed it myself, which was another hour of my time. Instead of complaining over and over I spent my own time repairing things that I should not have to. Then I am repaid by management charging me for broken blinds and a questionable broken screen.

FRUGALITY

This is where frugality comes in. Some people may consider this being cheap by arguing over $60. I just don’t like getting charged for things that I should not be charged for. This is how the management company makes some extra money. It’s just like giving free trials for subscriptions and hoping people forget to cancel the subscription and new income is generated. I was sent a copy of the move-in move-out inspection agreement. There is a space for management and resident signatures on the move-in date. There is a space for management and resident signatures on the move-out date. There is only one blank signature on the sheet, which is the resident move-out sheet. Basically, you fork over a security deposit before you are allowed to move-in. Then you get no help inspecting your apartment for damages. Finally, you move out and aren’t around when management finds damages and charges it to your security deposit. I’m sure the management company is banking on former residents receiving a partial security deposit and being grateful they received any money at all, or they’re too lazy to argue.

PLAN

I plan on arguing this injustice. I can take them to small claims court, which I will most likely lose. I can report them to the better business bureau. I think the most effective means of fighting the injustice is by calling and arguing my points from above. Also, I should only be charged for the remaining useful life of the broken product. The screen doors were very old. They often were hung up on the track when opened. The lock barely worked. I’m assuming the screen is equally old and the screen material is super cheap. Based on the fact that I have already put two hours of my time into repairing various parts of the apartment I feel as though they have to listen to my complaints. Finally, the last thing I can do is to threaten to write bad reports in every forum I possibly can after this poor of an experience. Saving $60 is well worth the effort to correct this injustice.

I will take one important lesson from this experience. Everybody is trying to get their hands on your money. Whether it’s the apartment manager or your car insurance company irrationally raising rates, you have fight for every last penny.

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Carnival of Personal Finance #167

August 25, 2008

I recently participated in the Carnival of Personal Finance #167 that was graciously hosted by Broke Grad Student. This was my first carnival and I’m hoping to see some sort of traffic spike and maybe a new subscription or two, but I also realize I’ve been blogging for less than one month, so my expectations are tempered.

Broke Grad Student is a recently graduated grad student who had $22,000 in student loans. BGS blogs about the adventures of balancing the repayment of student loans with other financial ambitions. I enjoyed the small amount of the blog that I read and would recommend it.

Here were a few of my favorite blogs from the Carnival of Personal Finance:

  • Alpha Consumer blogs about how much bloggers make in varying stages of development.
  • Fire Finance details the YAWN philosophy to becoming a millionaire.
  • Realm of Prosperity explains how to set up an automatic savings account at HSBC.
  • Money Smart Life breaks down the pros and cons of students with credit cards and some smart options.

Now that my first carnival is out of the way, the next milestone is submitting an article that is selected for editor’s choice.