Beware of Property Management Companies

I rented a home for 6 years here in Murfreesboro, TN with my wife and 3 kids. Year after year, the lease was renewed. The property management company, Parks Property Management, sent someone in to inspect the home and we signed paperwork to extend the lease. very painless process. Near the end of the 6th year, we decided the house was too big for us and we wanted a newer, smaller home with less maintenance work. I always hear horror stories about tenants who get charged ridiculous fees for cleaning, painting and structure repairs just because the property manager feels the tenant did not meet some undefinable standard. For example, why would you put a pet deposit down and then be told you need to pay extra fees because of carpet that needs to be replaced due to a pet? What was the purpose of the deposit?

I will say right now before you read the rest of the post that Parks Property did the right thing and refunded me the deposit i requested. I had to go through a painful process of defending myself and gathering information to get there. The time I spent writing this response to the property manager will never be returned to me. If I had not been diligent about keeping emails and communication, I would not have had the strong case I had. One of the purposes of this website is to help my visitors understand that documentation is key. Standing up for yourself is key. It makes me very upset that companies plow over people and get them to do things they really don’t want to do or can’t do. I guess it is the advocate in me that thinks that there are senior citizens and vulnerable people out there that really do not have the means to stand up for themselves against some of these companies. That is why awareness is so important. The post below is my response to the property manager telling me that they are holding my last month’s deposit. The red lettering is from the property manager, and my response is in black. i edited names out, so that is why you see Mr. (owner), Mrs. (owner), etc.

Not sure where to start with this reply. There are so many statements in here that are false it is overwhelming. I have included Mrs. (owner) on this email, because you keep referring to the “owners”, but I do not see them on this email. I remember this situation very differently. When I was there, I had a very pleasant conversation with the owners. I am surprised that there would be any bad feelings from them. They even told me that we had been good tenants. Mr. (owner) gave me a bit of history about the house and some crazy things that happened in the neighborhood. It is a shame that property management companies are known for trying to screw tenants out of their deposit for things that are out of their control. It looks like you are trying to put expenses on me that I am not responsible for. Let me address each of your statements.
On May 15, 2018, a walk-through of the property was conducted with the owners and (Parks Property employee).

let me point out here that this walk-through was requested because the owner wanted to assess the property for the purpose of putting it on the market. I see the house is currently listed on Zillow. (Parks Property employee) was present for this walk-through, and I received no documentation from Parks Property on the results of this inspection.
During this time you pointed out an issue with termites in the outbuilding. We do not have any documentation that you ever reported that the property was having issues with termites. If we would have been notified, Parks could have had the home and outbuilding treated to prevent further damage.

this is a false statement. I opened up this building and told the owners I have had no problems with the building other than replacing light bulbs. I also said that because the building is not sealed, I have seen snakes and mice at times. At no time did I mention termites. Mr. (owner) made the statement that “it looks like there might be termites” when I opened the garage door. I was not aware of termites being inside this building. All I knew was disclosed to the owners (and (Parks Property employee) when I went inside the building. Furthermore, it is not my responsibility to check for termite infestation, that would be the responsibility of Parks Property when they do their annual inspection upon lease renewal. Being that we were there for many years, that is something that Parks Property should have considered in our time there. At no time did Parks Property offer any such service to us. So, to try and blame me for termites is ridiculous and unfair. I can’t report something that I am unaware of. I am not a building inspector. I only report items that are not working, and in the past, many of those items were not repaired or followed up on. I had a brief conversation with (owner) about the fact that (former Parks Property employee) told me he would buy paint for us if we provided a swab to the Northfield office. He never did follow through on this promise, and Mrs.(owner) told me that he is not authorized to do that. This is an example of how the inspections occurred, promises were made, but they were never completed. I can provide specific examples as needed.
In regards to your move-out. Parks never received notification from you as to your exact move-out date.

Yes, you did. On April 3rd, 2018. (Parks Property employee)i was informed we would not be renewing the lease. I asked about renting another property. I was never contacted about the possibility of a rental home from Parks Property. Again, no follow through.
No keys were returned to us and it wasn’t until June 7, 2018, when (Parks Property employee) called the owner that we were informed that you had officially moved out.

At the walk through with the owners, Mr. (owner) told me that if I could have all my things out of the house by the end of the month, he would waive the June rent. I see no mention of this in this email. (Parks Property employee) was present for this conversation that took place in the living room. (Parks Property employee) said she would get with the owners about wrapping things up. No one asked me to do anything at this point. No requests were made of me. I kept up my end of the deal and moved out by the end of the month. technically, I was paying rent during the time that the owners were renovating the home, but I was agreeable to that. I returned the keys to the house (see text message below to Mrs. (owner). Again, trying to hold me accountable for this is unfair. I returned the keys on May 24 and contacted the owner directly.
The owners report significant termite damage and hired a company to make repairs. The owners have demanded that we hold your entire security deposit to pay for damages.

As I said before, it is not my responsibility to check for termites. Had I been aware of termites, I would have notified Parks Property. You are trying to hold me responsible for something I was unaware of and not responsible for. The building is outside and open for anything to come inside.
Reported Damages:
Outbuilding/Garage Termite damage:

I assume no responsibility for that.
Excessive cleaning of all three bathrooms

Wish I had recorded this. I asked Mrs. (owner) about cleaning and she told me “not to worry about it”, they were going to come in and do that anyways. I told her that my wife would be happy about that. (Parks Property employee) was present during this conversation. I would have cleaned the bathrooms, which is why I mentioned it to Mrs. (owner) in the first place. I only asked because I knew they were renovating the home for the market.
Replace Storm Door/Rotted Frame Damages

Structural damage. How can you even think about holding a tenant responsible for that? How can I be held accountable for rot? The door opened and closed and was not falling off. Again, I would hold Parks Property responsible for that. What are they checking for on the annual inspections they conduct?
Landscaping was not maintained

This is something else I spoke to Mrs.(owner) about. I told her we would keep cutting the lawn and take care of the yard for the month of May. She said not to worry about it. They would have someone coming by and taking care of the landscaping anyways. I was there on the weekend moving things out of the garage and a man pulled up in a vehicle in the driveway. He was talking on the phone and walking around the property. I asked who he was and he said he was going to be doing the landscaping. I noticed when I came over to pick up the mail that people were putting mulch down and that they had pulled up plants, cut down shrubs, etc. So to accuse me of this is just unfair.
The owners have submitted a break down of charges which exceeds your security deposit.

Maybe they have, but that does not mean I am responsible for all of them. These charges have been put before you, and it seems like you are trying to put them all on me. I have reported items that have needed attention. Sometimes they were fixed, and other times, they were not. Trying to stick me with things like termites, rot, cleaning and yard maintenance is a real stretch. Your company did not perform a final inspection with me and did not request that I attend a final inspection.
I am meeting with my supervisor on Monday to discuss how we should proceed.

I think what you should do is arrange a phone conversation with the owner, me and your company. There seems to be a lot of misinformation here. (Parks Property employee) was at the owner inspection and is aware of what arrangements were made. My conversation with the owners was very good and they even complimented us for being good tenants. I find it hard to believe that the owners are putting this blame on us.
I know you have called several times requesting your deposit. I just wanted to notify you of the owner’s intentions and inform you that we have placed a hold on your deposit at this time. I will have to follow-up with you next week regarding this matter.

I was told by (Parks Property employee) that she would contact the owners and let me know about the deposit by the end of the week. She said Parks Property was not able to do an inspection. Again, I was not asked to attend an inspection. By the time that email was sent to me, the house was already undergoing renovation. This was understood by all who attended the walk through on May 15th. I did not hear back from (Parks Property employee) at the end of the week. I sent an email asking her what the status is, no response. I called into the office and left a voicemail. No response. I am just now hearing back from you. This idea of holding me responsible for these items and refusing to refund my deposit is very unfair. I made an agreement with the owners, and (Parks Property employee) was there to witness it. I returned keys, I offered to clean the house, I offered to take care of the yard. I did as I said and vacated the home before the end of the month. I did this in good faith to benefit the owners so they could renovate the home. I want this matter resolved and my deposit refunded to me as soon as possible. I have already wasted a large part of my time following up on this.

So after I sent this email, Park Property decided in my favor:

“Mr. Jones,

Thank you for responding in detail to the Security Deposit Hold. Due to all the discrepancies, we have agreed to return your security deposit in full. Please provide your forwarding address to send the security deposit check.”

So I thanked the property manager for her professionalism and I received my deposit check back. I did not have to pay the last month on my lease either. By that time, they had the home listed for sale.

So in my case, all ended well. I had to do some work on my side, though, and I hope that they are not a lot of people out there that have to go through this type of ordeal.

If you have had an experience like this, please send me your story. I will review it and post it on this site.

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