Nancy Moore, a full-time triathlon athlete, said she has better things to do than fight her daughter’s former apartment complex.
Moore’s daughter lived at the Villagio apartment complex off Aquarena Springs this summer. Though she only lived there for two months, Moore’s daughter was charged for chipped paint and dirty carpets after moving out.
Sylvia Holmes, an attorney for Texas State students, said half of the cases coming into the Attorney for Students office are landlord-tenant complaints. Many students are concerned with security deposits that have been paid and are not returned to them or receiving a bill for additional charges.
Holmes said apartment complexes compare damage reports that tenants fill out to determine who is responsible for the damages.
“I wasn’t expecting to see a $138 bill come in the mail,” Moore said. “I don’t pay bills that I can’t justify or have proof of services from. It’s a principle thing.”
Holmes said evidence of damages or lack thereof is crucial when disputing these charges. She said the best way to be proactive about fees is to take pictures when moving into an apartment and filling out and making copies of inventory sheets.
“Otherwise it’s your word against theirs, and between a 19-year-old versus a 50-year-old who has been doing business for 20 years, there’s not so much credibility there,” Holmes said. “I hate to say it, but that’s the reality of the situation.”
Arielle Brea Lofton, nutrition and foods junior, lived in the same unit as Moore’s daughter from August to May.
“I actually had to clean when I came in,” Lofton said. “If someone cleaned they didn’t do a very good job. Everything I was charged for was something I reported when I moved in.”
Lofton paid approximately $200 in fees after she moved out. She said her appeals to the complex regarding the fees were brushed to the side.
Lofton believes she was not taken seriously because the complex was receiving numerous complaints identical to hers at the time.
Hannah Voight, Villagio employee , said the complex charges $250 if it has to find a subleaser. People who sublease pay no deposit fee for moving into the apartment.
Other apartments such as University Heights, The Lodge and River Oaks Villas have similar policies regarding subleases, according to representatives in their offices.
Holmes said renters in Texas must give written move-out notice at least 30 days in advance and they must also give the landlord a forwarding address. The landlord then has 30 days to return renters’ money or send an itemized bill explaining why the money is not being sent.
“They’ve got to say what the charges are,” Holmes said. “They don’t have to give you receipts. They just have to give you essentially a bill that says ‘You had a $500 deposit. We’re keeping $100 for carpet, $50 for light bulbs, $60 for drip pans and here’s the remainder of your money.’”
A student who is unhappy with deductions and charges can argue the bill by writing a letter to the landlord expressing the disagreements, Holmes said. The Attorney for Students office provides templates to students who are having these issues.
The Attorney for Students office’s services are free, and representatives will go over individual leases and explain renters’ rights and options with students.
“There are hundreds of college students who are going to have this kind of marking on their record,” Moore said. “It could affect their entire lives’ worth of credit