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i love reading other people's renting horror stories. i have a few of my own! we moved into an apartment at the end of july. after touring it we knew it needed work but figured the landlord would remove the nails, the scratches in the hardwoods, the band aid in the shower, the old tenant's belongings they'd left behind in the livingroom and kitchen, and repaint the walls. you know, normal things someone does before newly renting a space.

when we signed the lease on a friday and went over to see the space, NOTHING had been done. no new paint. no clean floors. the old tenant's crap still sitting there. we'd rented the uhaul and had family from out of town coming the next day to help us move. it all had to be cancelled.

we demanded the landlord come clean and repaint. all that next week long i wanted, popping in to see what had been done, and NOTHING ever was. it was funny to us because in the lease it stated things like "must remove nails." "must leave clean." blah blah blah. clearly this person didn't follow the lease and the landlord didn't really seem to care.

Finally on that Thursday I called and spoke with the manager of property management company and he stated they would NOT repaint, they would NOT remove nails, they would not remove the scratches from the floor, they essentially would not repair anything and give us a nice clean slate. He even went so far as to say that he "loved" how awful it looked because it gave the place "character." We just had to move right in on top of someone else's filth. IT made me IRATE. I LOVE character. I LIVE for old buildings. I do not live or love a dirty space.

That was late July and here in September we're STILL cleaning. such a disgrace. Really cute building from 1930s but the company just doesn't care. There are so many lovely old buildings from the 20/30s here that are falling into disrepair bc landlords don't take care of them. I do not understand how providing a clean space can raise rent. I thought it was the law to repaint and make repairs but apparently in AL that isn't the case? I couldn't find any legal info on the internet about it.

You'd better believe we're painting the crap out the place!!!!!!!! And switching out light fixtures, switch plates, etc. You have to make it your home if you plan to stay more than a year, I firmly believe that. Home should be relaxing, comfortable, inspirational. Not blood pressure raising because you hate everything about it.
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well Miranda, I think you are a great tenant but a little foolish, if I may say so. you are putting a lot of $$ and sweat equity into a place that is not your own, and apparently for no reduction in rent or other concessions. this landlord LIVES for people like you, and don't be surprised if your payback is them raising the rent next year because the place is so much nicer now. there are no laws about décor/paint/nails, only about things that impact health like plumbing, ventilation, etc. And yes, doing maintenance does eventually raise the rent - after all, it costs the landlord money to do those things, and it will be spread out over what they are charging for rent. With our own rental property we operate on a very tight margin, and we can't afford to subsidize the housing market by renting for less than it costs us to keep up the property plus our own mortgage payment.
Your only leverage was before you moved in, to cancel the lease and find another place. that is assuming, however, that your lease actually said that the landlord would repaint etc. if it did not say it, then you have/had no recourse. good luck, chalk it up as a "lesson learned." :-)
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Mike Hubert

Excellent tips. Thank you for sharing. If you want to make changes to your rental unit, check with your landlord first. You might consider it an improvement, but that doesn't mean they won't try to charge you for damages.

One more advice that I would like to add is that every change you or your landlord make should be kept in documents. Keeping records is important. That will help you to avoid misunderstandings in future when you want to get the security deposit back. This article describes how to do it right.


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