R.W. asks from Jackson, MI on April 15, 2009
Landlord Changed Locks! Should I Call Police?
Last week we recieved a "Notice to Quit" from the Property Managment Co. (We decided to move, and so did not pay rent as we were going to be out by...well Yesterday) The Notice to quit gave us 7days to either move or pay rent. Obviously we were moving. Over this last weekend we moved 99% of our things out and into our new house. Last night (Tuesday) I returned to vacuum, clean up a bit, and retrieve my broom, mop, vacuum, Steam Cleaner, and a few other odds and ends that were left behind. When I arrived I noticed that the Locks had been changed. It is my understanding that this is illegal as it deprives the tenant of his/her belongings. The Eviction notice has not been issued as of yet, and besides that we would still have 30days after the Eviciton notice to move.
Should I call the police so as to have legal evidence, or should I attempt to handle this one my own?
BTW. THe Reason we chose to move suddenly is because the Managment Company has been harrassing us since January. There is a new Manager in the office who did a walk through and decided that our walls needed to be painted, and the carpets proffessionally cleaned. We have lived there for 2yrs with 3 small children. The walls were not painted prior to us moving in, nor were the carpets cleaned. We recieved a bill from the Managment Company for over $650 for these items. Which I believe is also illegal (assesing damages prior to tenant vacating premesis, and charging for wear and tear on the paint)
I just am not sure what to do.
So What Happened?™
Apparenlty the Managment Co was ignorant of the Law. It has been their Policy to make a house call after business hours the day the 7day Notice to Quit has expired. If they do not see any furniture or clothing they change the locks. They were very unwilling to let us in to the apt regardless. Apparently the hired maintance Co. had the only keys and he was unavailable until SUNDAY. We told them that if someone was not at the Apt. by 4pm today to let us in we would be calling the police. My Husband is there right now picking up our things.
I betcha they won't be making that mistake again...
C.M. answers from Detroit on April 16, 2009
As an FYI the bill for the painting and the carpet cleaning is illeagal. Those are considered things that will have to be done between tenants anyway and are the responsibility of the landlord. They can charge you for holes in the walls, but not for painting or carpet cleaning. I do not know about the rest of the problem.
C.B. answers from Detroit on April 16, 2009
I would DEFINITELY consult a lawyer. It could be a matter of small claims court or it could mean traditional court proceedings. It may be only necessary to have an attorney advise the landlord of intents unless he not only takes back his bill of $650 (that is ludicrous) but allows you to get your stuff. You seemed to fulfil your side of the agreement.
Get a lawyer. quick. and good luck
T.A. answers from Grand Rapids on April 15, 2009
We own a rental house and your landlord should not have changed the locks. Your right that they had no legal right to do so. However since you are almost out and just need to gather up the few things you have left there, what I would do is call the landlord and nicely ask if they could let you in to gather up your remaining belongings. If they refuse then I would call the local police dept and explain the situation and let them know you just want your stuff. You may need to go show them your copy of your lease and the 7 Day or Quit Notice. That should be enough to get you in.
At this point I wouldn't worry about doing any more cleaning. I am guessing that you are trying to get your securtiy deposit back? It sounds to me as if the landlord has already made up their mind to find enough wrong to prevent it. You do however have the option of taking them to court to get it but you have to take in to consideration court costs, attorneys fees, and if you are awarded a judgement you are responsible for collecting the money and most likey they won't be willing to just hand it over. You could end up losing more than just the security deposit. Good luck I wish the best to you.
L.N. answers from Benton Harbor on April 15, 2009
The police likely won't get involved, but they *may* force the landlord to let you get your belongings at an agreed upon time. The police should, however, be familiar with the local immediate laws on such matters (trespassing, etc). The won't be able to do much more than let you in to retrieve your stuff, though. Anything else you'll have to hire an attorney for.
A.S. answers from Detroit on April 16, 2009
One thing is sure in life. If you don't know your rights, you don't have any! Immediate and unlimited access to some of Michigan's top-rated attorneys is available and very affordable (less than a cup of coffee a day, and I'm not talking Starbucks). Peace of mind for you and your family is just a phone call away.
If you'd like to know more, I can be reached at ###-###-####. A.
S.M. answers from Saginaw on April 16, 2009
Hello R., To protect yourselves legally you need to have a police report done. You have already found that talking with this new manager is not working. Then you need to go to court and make sure that your credit is not effected by this $650 charge. Not to mention getting your proporty back. If you go to your local court house they have booklets for tenants on all of the laws. Good luck.
D.D. answers from Detroit on April 16, 2009
If you were given 7 days and you didn't pay any rent then after those 7 days it would appear correct that the landlord takes possession of the property. You say that you stopped paying rent - how long ago? If you have broken your lease then the landlord can still expect payment for the balance of the lease. It does not sound as if the landlord is particularly professional but I don't think the way you have responded to them is in your best interest. I agree with the other poster that when you receive your closing statement (which should be within 30 days of move-out) you need to dispute the charges within 45 days - if you just ignore the statement and decide not to pay they will send you to collections. If you play by the rules, you should be OK.
K.S. answers from Detroit on April 15, 2009
I would try not to get the police involved, but I would contact them and let them know you have a few items that you still need to get (they may think you just left those items)and you would like to finish cleaning. Also take pictures of the place when you leave (get a newspaper to prove the date). If they do not want to let you in to do those things call the police and ask for their assistance.
J.D. answers from Detroit on April 16, 2009
By law a landlord must put a fresh coat of paint and clean the carpets before a tenant moves in, so that should have been done for you prior to moving in. Then depending on your lease agreement, usually you can be held liable for cleaning your carpet before moving out if it has "excessive" damage. It usually has to be pretty bad for them to even try and enforce this because they know that they have to get it cleaned anyway, and painted, before a new person moves in.sounds like their just trying to stick you with the cost and not pay themselves.
Now about evicting, it is a hassle to evict a tenant because there is so many laws in place to protect them. Your absolutely right that you have 30 days after a eviction notice to move. And you can take a eviction notice to court, well the landlord, if you feel its unjust and the landlord better have a damn good case as to why they issued it.
Why are they trying to collect $650? Didn't you put down a security deposit? Normally its landlords keeping that money for damages and people will fight to get that back.
Maybe there's a lot more to the story but from what you said YES you for sure have a case against them. You should file a report immediately with the police if you plan on pursuing this. They can't just change the locks on you and not let you collect your belongings, especially if the grounds for the eviction notice were wrong in the first place. People always have 30 days.
Its going to cost you to get a lawyer but you could sue them and win I would think.
Talk to the police and talk to a lawyer, maybe they would agree to get paid only if/when you receive a settlement. Most will do that if they feel your case is strong.
I would do it only because these guys sound like total jerks and you can't do whatever you want, they have violated your rights and probably broke a few laws.