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Daseal 06-17-2013 10:47 PM

Flooring Question
Greetings Warpath,

We've been dealing with a saga lately and I was hoping perhaps someone on TWP may have some expertise to lend. I will expand on the situation below, but the basic question is can you replace just a small section of engineered wood floor that is glued down to a concrete slab. At most it would be 6 pieces that would have to be replaced because there is slight bowing/cracking at an edge. Overall I'd estimate the area is 1.5sq inches large. It seems to be some sort of water damage, and we think it may be from the air conditioning unit.

For a little backstory. Girlfriend recently moved our of her apartment. She left the apartment in fantastic shape and always took great care of the place. Today we got a call saying that they wanted to keep the entire security deposit because of a few issues.
1) Repainting. Fine. They discussed it before and they raised the price, but $50/Wall is not unreasonable for professional painting of the walls my girlfriend painted to different colors.
2) Scratches/Loose electrical outlet. This outlet was like that before we moved and and have pictures to prove that it was scratched up before she moved in.
3) The small area of wood floor being slightly warped/bowed. We noticed it shortly before we moved out and we should have mentioned something right away. It's a very small area and most people didn't notice the area. We did not spill any water or leave anything there that may have caused that damage. We believe, since it is right next to the hot water heater/AC unit, that the damage was caused by those units.

So I have a few followup questions in addition to 'can that small area be replaced.'

- They want to charge her to replace the entire floor. That seems unreasonable to me due to the fact that even the part that is slightly warped is very small. The floor is also at least 6 years old, perhaps more. The average engineered wood floor is estimated to last 15-20 years. Would depreciation come into play in this situation?
- There are a lot of 'fishy' signs that they're simply trying to keep the security deposit. They said that even though it will cost ~5-6K they will make a deal to only keep the security deposit. Additionally, they were very aggressive in needing an answer soon and were resistant to allowing us to have someone assess the damage. They also couldn't tell me the name of the two companies they had come give estimates.
- Is this worth fighting? Should we give up while we're 'ahead' or should this go to small claims court?

We're not trying to get out of taking care of any responsibility we have, although we feel replacing an entire floor because of a tiny section of the floor is not reasonable. Please let me know your thoughts! Thanks!

FRPLG 06-18-2013 12:29 AM

Re: Flooring Question
I mean I'd find it hard to believe they could stick you with the floor damage. Absent some type of obvious signs of mistreatment (scratches from high heels, a ring from a planter, etc...) what could they possibly think you all had done? Bowing and warping does not happen because of a spilled glass once in a while. It takes prolonged cyclical exposure and drying.

mlmdub130 06-18-2013 07:22 AM

Really tricky without seeing it, but I would say in my experience about 90% of the time engineered floors cannot be patched. If it is in multiple rooms you could put a transition piece and only remove the damaged room. Even so there will be a variation in the appearances of the floors. So the part about him telling you it would all need to come up to repair a small spot is most likely correct. However your or your gf's liability is a whole other can of worms I would have no idea about.

mredskins 06-18-2013 09:17 AM

Re: Flooring Question
They are trying to screw you over.

The funniest one is the electrical outlet; seriously that is .59 cent fix.

I would hold to my guns and ask if you can have a home inspector go look at the damage and get his opinion. If they really thought you did it you be on the hook for all of it. I have engineered wood floors in all my homes and have never had a problem with them. That is with two kids and two dogs just beating the hell out of them. Moisture can't get in from the top it has to be coming up from the slab it has to be.

Either that floor was installed wrong or moisture is penetrating it from the slab.

Sadly some if not must rental company's/landlords just view a deposit as a revenue stream.

gibbsisgod 06-18-2013 10:01 AM

Re: Flooring Question
You might want to read up on landlord tennant law in your area. Sometimes painting of walls to a different color does not automatically disqualify you from receiving your deposit back. In some states if you have lived in a rental property for a certain amountof time they cannot charge you one cent for repainting. Im not positive but i believe this is true even in instances where the rooms were painted a different color.

As far as the floor, my father owns a flooring company and i ran this by him. He suggested getting your own estimate. Most places, or even self contractors, will come out to give you an estimate on the damage free of charge. It is hard to match up the wood so "patching" probably isnt an option but it couldnt hurt to get your own estimate.

Another thing to consider is proving what caused the damage was something other than the tennant. A certified contractor could help in proving that it was not caused by some sort of neglect.

Daseal 06-18-2013 12:07 PM

Re: Flooring Question
Thanks for the input so far guys. Sounds like the idea of having to replace the whole floor due to one issue isn't completely unfounded as I had initially thought.

We would love to get our own estimate, but they won't let us do that without guaranteeing this ends up in court. Personally, I think they're full of shit and we have a chance in court to at least lower the cost. However, that requires a lot of time/effort, and perhaps lawyer fees, that would outweigh our concession?

We're supposed to answer before 9PM tonight and we're torn. She's reaching out to previous tenants now to see if this same activity was attempted before.

JoeRedskin 06-18-2013 12:16 PM

Re: Flooring Question
While they probably have done so, make sure they have complied with the appropriate notice requirements. Look it up online. Tenants have lots of remedies. If you have any specific questions, PM me. If you can get a free estimate, do so.

Your lease also will talk about the security deposit and its requirements. Did you have a inspection done with the landlord before moving in (i.e. noting the existing damages)? If not, you may be precluded from claiming pre-existing damages.

Daseal 06-18-2013 12:29 PM

Re: Flooring Question
Found this as well, we were there and walked through the property with the landlord at the moveout date and was provided with no damages besides the previously discussed painting issues:

Is a Walk Through Inspection Required in Virginia?

Yes. The landlord must make reasonable effort to notify the tenant of the tenantís right to be present at the move-out inspection. This notification must be made within five days of a tenant giving the landlord their move-out notice or must be made when the landlord gives the tenant notice to vacate.

The tenant must then respond in writing if they desire to be present during the move-out inspection. The landlord must then respond to the tenant notifying them of the date and time of the inspection. The inspection should be scheduled no more than three days before the tenantís move-out date.

At the actual inspection, the landlord must give the tenant an itemized list of the damages to the unit he or she has found during the inspection.
[url=http://landlords.about.com/od/LegalIssues/a/Virginia-Security-Deposit-Law.htm]Virginia Security Deposit Law[/url]

She moved out on May 26th and we received notice of the issue on June 17th.

JoeRedskin 06-18-2013 01:01 PM

Re: Flooring Question
Just send them a letter pointing those things out. Their failure is likely to be a bar to them keepin the security deposit and likely opens them up to treble damages.

If you can, find and prep a simple complaint for landlord/tenant court citing the statute and the facts demonstrating their failure to comply (i.e. no inspection, notice, etc. and failure to return the deposit). Tell them you are including it as a courtesy copy but will not file unless they return the deposit. If treble damages are mandated under VA law, tell them you'll file unless they return the double the security deposit (or deposit +50%). Show them you'll make them pay for dicking you around and they will probably just offer you the deposit to go away.

By the way, this is not legal advice, just friendly banter among friends who aren't licensed to practice law in Virginia.

Daseal 06-18-2013 01:26 PM

Re: Flooring Question
[quote=firstdown;1012421]Answer to what? They say they are keeping your deposit are you suppose to tell them that just fine or agree to something?[/quote]

Sorry FD, missed this earlier. Basically a bully tactic. Answer before this time or else you owe it ALL!

FRPLG 06-18-2013 01:56 PM

Re: Flooring Question
If they push they'll have to provide to you their reasoning as to why you are at fault. They can't just keep your security deposit as a "maintenance" fee. If the place burns down due to faulty electrical wiring while you live there does that make you at fault? No. Occupation doesn't assume complete liability for the property. Again without pictures it is hard to say but engineered flooring doesn't just warp through typical wear and tear. It has to be subjected to extreme conditions. I mean I just can't imagine they actually think you're at fault. They're trying to screw you all. Have pictures?

Daseal 06-18-2013 05:30 PM

Re: Flooring Question
So we've decided we're definitely going to fight it as we don't feel it is acceptable for us be responsible for the entire floor. The floor was 9 years old and we believe the damage was caused by lack of maintenance on their AC unit in the adjacent room. We're going to file a complaint with this group ([url=http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer/complaints.htm]Consumer Complaint, Mediation & Arbitration Guide*- Fairfax County, Virginia[/url]) in an attempt to mediate the issue before turning to court. I plan on meeting with a lawyer shortly to see our options.

My question is, should we warn them we feel they are being unreasonable in their claims and will be submitting a complaint? Should we simply not respond? Should we be more aggressive as JR pointed out. Mentioning we will be obtaining legal counsel, but would rather eliminate this issue immediately.

Also, for the record, we offered 1,000 last night to get rid of everything and they scoffed. So... I'm guessing we'll end up going through the dance.

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