What is our liability to our former landlord if out final walk-through went well?

We moved out of an apartment after a nice walk-through. We left everything clean and vacuumed with only a few stains on the carpet. The head maintenance man conducted the walk-through with us and said there shouldn’t be any issues, that we left the apartment in pretty good condition. He even said, “You should see the way some people leave these apartments. Yours looks great”. I turned my keys into the manager personally and left my phone number with her stating that if she needed anything else, to please give me a call. That was it. A few weeks later, after we moved into our new apartment, I got a call from a collection company saying that we owe over $1200. Is this legal? No one tried to contact me directly. How could this even be?

Asked on August 28, 2015 under Real Estate Law, Georgia

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

IF you left either owing unpaid rent or did damage to the unit, then it is legitimate that you would owe money. Even if the maintenance man had said at the time that everything was good does not mean that they might not have found issues or damage later. On the other hand, you don't have to take their allegations at face value. Ask them to explain why you owe $1,200 and to provide proof of any damage. If you agree with the explanation, you could pay the money, or try to work out a mutually agreeable settlement. If you don't agree, and do not think that you did anything for which you would owe money, you can refuse to pay then, if they want the money from you, they would have to sue you and prove in court, by a preponderance of the evidence, that you did the damage, failed to pay some rent, etc. Only if they could prove that would you owe them money.


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