5 On Your Side

Woman, Apartment Owner Tussle Over Security Deposit

Posted January 3, 2007

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— The owner of a Raleigh apartment complex has numerous pending complaints from tenants, such as not returning security deposits.

Pamela Greene has such a complaint against JP Realty IV, the owner of Lenoxplace Apartments, where she lived before moving into her house in August.

Greene said she looked forward to getting her $250 security deposit back after moving out. When almost two months passed without a check, she called Lenoxplace, and she was sent an invoice showing a $125 deduction for damages like the replacement of two bent refrigerator condiment bars, a 12-inch carpet patch and patchwork on screw holes made by curtain rods.

She said she thought such minor items were covered in a $150 redecorating fee she had already paid.

“What is the $150 for?" she said. "What does redecorating mean? Anything that needs to be done to get the apartment in shape for somebody else to move in.”

The invoice also included $700 for unpaid rent for July, even though Greene paid $810 that month. Overall, according to Lenoxplace, she owed $575.

When Greene showed July's cancelled check to Lenoxplace manager Chloe Karsten, that charge was removed. But Karsten  imposed new charges, Greene said, such as a rent abatement in 2004 that should have been disallowed and underpaying rent one month last year.

Instead of getting the $250 deposit, Greene owed that plus another $102 -- a total of $352, according to Karsten.

“It infuriated me,” said Greene, who turned to 5 On Your Side for help.

Karsten initially refused to talk with 5 On Your Side. Later, she and Lenoxplace owner John Politis said they stood by the charges and said Greene "owes the money."

Politis said the $150 redecorating fee covers "painting the walls and cleaning the carpet."

While such fees are becoming more common, some legal experts said landlords use them to circumvent the law, which states landlords cannot withhold part of a deposit for "normal wear and tear."

Greene said she plans to pursue the matter in court.

“It's been a thorn in my flesh, and it's not about the money. It's the principle of the thing,” she said.

JP Realty IV, the parent corporation of Lenoxplace, has 10 complaints with the Better Business Bureau. The BBB gives the firm an unsatisfactory record because it hasn't responded to most of the complaints.

Some other landlord-tenant rights worth knowing:

  • Landlords have 30 days from the end of the lease to return the full deposit or give a written justification for deductions.
  • If a rental payment is five days or more late, the landlord can charge a late fee of either $15 dollars or 5 percent of the payment, whichever is greater.
  • Everyone who signs a lease is bound by its terms and is liable for damages.

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  • diwanicki Jan 10, 2007

    Why are they still allowed to do business? This si why you take pictures of the place when you leave so if crap like this happens you have a photo to show the judge. They will be laughed right out of court.

  • diamondintherough Jan 9, 2007

    Renting an apartment is a gamble anyway you look at it, either with the landlord or tenants! I myself an renting an apartment here in Raleigh, NC and it has been problematic for the eight months I have been a tenant. The landlord does not want to "deal" with issues coming from disruptive tenants they want to take it out on the tenants who follow the rules and regulations, it is an easy way out for landlords. My advice would be "Be your own advocate, because noone else will."

  • chyna41974 Jan 9, 2007

    Yesterday one of my co-workers was telling me about this story, and I said it sounded like a place I use to live in 2003-2004. And guess what it was Lenoxplace Apartments. I liked to had a fit, I'm so glad Ms. Greene exposed those crooks. They took me to court and tried to get a very large sum of money out of me, but it didn't work. They lied and told the attorney in August or September of 2006 that I put holes in walls and basically destroyed the apartment which wasn't true. Explained that they were lying and if it was true why wasn't it listed in the original court papers. Lenoxplace didn't list the monies I was paying to the collection agency in my case file they turned over to the attorney. I didn't find this out until September of 2006. I had to get my bank statements pulled from 2005. I called JP Realty, yesterday and spoke to JP and he said he remembered me. I asked for a break down of my records, for what I was taking to court for. He said he would call me back; he was on his w

  • buffer295 Jan 9, 2007

    i've just been burnt by them as well- yikes, after reading this story i withdrew my application from them- i knew something was fishy- the woman in the offices got real ugly to me when i mentioned this story!-
    stay clear of them folks- the apartment i was looking at had cigarette burns in the carpet-and they had no intentions of replacing it so they stated- not to mention im out the application fee but who cares- thank you wral for posting this -

  • jhndlp Jan 8, 2007

    After reading their reviews on apartmentratings.com, WHY DO THEY HAVE SO MANY OF THE SAME COMPLAINTS???? Where there is smoke, there is usually fire.

  • Drifter Jan 5, 2007

    We lived at Lenoxplace for a couple of years. And if anyone is thinking about living there, just forget it. They don't do any kind of maintainance on their apartments, including changing the large lights on the street side (Talk about a safety problem). We had an element go out on our stove, they never fixed it, and that was just one example. When we finally moved out, they promised us we'd get our security deposit back, but then they slapped us with an additional month's rent out of no where, and claimed if we didn't pay it, they'd get lawyers after us.

    Needless to say, we were furious. I've heard plenty of others who lived there had the same problems. They lure you in with cheap rent but boy do they make you pay later. It's not worth it folks, just avoid them.

  • builder276 Jan 4, 2007

    The charges seem reasonable for the amount of damages that needed repair. I would have charged at least that to repair the carpeting alone. The landlord does however seem like he crawled out from under a rock somewhere due to the rental dispute