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Wednesday, May 13, 2015



A recent post by the wonderful award winning blogger (she has a coveted Walter award) Val the Victorian reminded me of a story.

Val, by the way should be required reading, so go visit. 


If you rent an apartment today, at least in the New Jersey area, the deposit you put down is put in escrow.  It earns interest, and when you leave your apartment the landlord must prove damages and the renter must approve before the escrow account is distributed.  If the apartment is left with no more than normal wear and tear, you, the renter, receive a check for the deposit plus interest.

This was not always the case.

Years ago, the landlord took in the deposit, and nine times out of ten when you left, he claimed damages and you never saw that money again. 

When I rented my first apartment in the early 70’s I was not aware of this crooked landlord bullshit tradition.  My first apartment I put down two months’ rent as a deposit.  At the end of our lease we had purchased a house. 

Two months before we were to move I sent in my monthly rent.  The next day, I ran into a former neighbor.  I was told

“Dude, when you move, do not pay your last two months rent!  I have been trying to collect my deposit for four months, and the owners do not want to know anything.  They will not answer the phone and their office is not at the listed address.  I’m not even sure who the owners are.  They are not going to repay your deposit, I guarantee it!”

I immediately put a stop payment on that month’s rent.  Several days later I got a call from the apartment’s agent. 

“Mr. Hagy, your last rent check did not clear, why did you put a stop payment on it?”

In previous posts, I have admitted to being a horrible liar, I am, but perhaps over the phone, and feeling completely in the right, I was able to cover up pretty quickly.

“Didn’t you get the other check?”

“What other check?”

“Well I sent a rent check, and then I found out my wife also sent in the rent, so I put a stop payment on one of the checks.”

“We have only received one check.”

“Well we sent two by mistake, if you don’t mind; I want to wait until I get my statement before sending another.  Also, could you send me a new lease for the next year?”

“Yes, we will send you a new lease, but we have only received one check and that was voided.”

“I understand.  I’ll straighten it out by next month.”

Two weeks into the last month of our lease, we closed on a new house.  I rented a U-Haul and in the middle of the night packed up everything we had and drove off without leaving a new address.

The landlord could just keep my deposit as my last two months rent and if there was any damage to the apartment (there wasn’t) too bad!

When you screw your tenants, you do not get the courtesy of a notice that your tenant is leaving and you do not get to collect for any damages.  Sorry, but three-hundred dollars is three-hundred dollars.

My only regret is that I did not leave a note saying “FUCK YOU!”


  1. Always treat people the way you want to be treated. It's that easy. If you don't, then you have earned what you get.

    Your Landlords earned what they got if people simply stopped paying the last two months' rent so as not to be defrauded.

  2. Below the title and above the story! I'm not worthy!

    That was a scathingly brilliant idea. I especially like the detail of the two checks. You're a freakin' genius.

  3. Situations like this are why I recommend everyone know someone in "Waste Management" to do your negotiating for you. They have a highly enviable record. :)

    1. I'm pretty sure the landlord was a subsidiary of a "Waste Management" company. "Crooked Nose Properties"

  4. Those were the days, staying even with the landlord.

  5. I think I might have done the same thing. We had one place we rented a house from; we rented on the 8th of the month and we didn't renew the lease. When it came for us to turn in our notice and pay the rent, I thought we could get by with just paying for the week's worth before the 8th but we had to pay for the whole month (they refunded the rest of the month's rent) plus here they have 21 days to get back your refund if you get one. We got ours on day 21. I'll never rent from them again.


  6. A lot of landlords are still doing this in New Jersey and New York. I ended up not paying my last month's rent during the apartment fiasco a year ago, as I suspected I wasn't getting a deposit back. And sadly, most of the tenants cannot do anything about this because they are poor and can't afford lawyers.

  7. i only had one bad landlady. i only spoke to her over the phone and she rambled on and on and i could hardly get a word in edgewise so could never finish my sentences. when we moved out, she claimed damage (that had been there before we moved in) and said because we had a 'filthy cat' in the place that i didn't tell her about (i honestly couldn't get her to shut up long enough to tell her!) she kept most of my deposit. i chalked it up to lesson learned, but luckily we bought our first place when we moved out of her duplex space.

  8. This happened to me in the 70s too. I had a professional cleaning crew come in so everything was spotless. I should have just walked off because the landlord never spoke to me again. I tried for months to get my deposit back and never did.

    Oh, and I think I said the same parting words when I gave up. They didn't hear them, but that's what I said.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

  9. Hi Cranky Man,

    Great idea. I think we've all had that issue in the past (yes it happens in the UK too).




  10. A brilliant solution--& I love Val!!

  11. I must be the exception because I can't recall being screwed by a landlord. But I see a steady stream of bad landlords on Judge Judy all the time.

  12. I must have been lucky...I always got my deposit back.

  13. I've always got my deposit back, my last place I was there eight years and the added interest was a nice bonus. The only time I ever had trouble getting my deposit back was when the landlord put the cash into his pocket instead of escrow. I had to fight to get that money back when I left, in the end he came to our house at night and threw money on the table, making sure we knew he'd taken it from his own bank account and now his wife wouldn't be able to shop for groceries. I didn't believe him about the non-shopping and didn't care. If he'd put the money in escrow he wouldn't have been out of pocket. We were there two years and certainly didn't damage anything, we never do. We always improved places by cleaning years of grime off stoves and floors, clearing weeds from gardens etc.

  14. Oooh, wish I had know about that. I lost a very hefty security deposit never to be seen again. I left the place better than I found it so he had no reason. Quite clever and you really are a good telephone liar.


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