Q: I live in a small apartment complex that recently changed ownership. I was not that worried about a new owner until I gave notice that I will be moving out next month at the end of my lease. I told the owner I wanted to know what I can do to get my full $1,500 security deposit back, expecting him to give me a list of cleaning requirements. But I was very surprised when he told me that I have only a $1,200 security deposit per the records he received from the prior owner. His position is that since that is the amount he received, that is all I am potentially entitled to.

I know that I paid a $1,500 deposit, because when I moved in four years ago the required security deposit was 1 1/2 months’ rent. I even pulled out a copy of my move-in paperwork and the canceled check, but he insists that is my problem and I need to contact the prior owner. What should I do?

A: The proper procedure for security deposits when there is a change in ownership is for the outgoing owner to send a letter to the tenants confirming the amount of the security deposit that is being transferred to the new owner and the new owner’s contact information. Clearly, it seems in your case this was not done. I believe that the new owner needs to honor your proof that you paid a security deposit of $1,500.

If he did not receive that amount from the prior owner, then he needs to pursue any claim he may have directly with the party that sold him the building and not try to shortchange you on your deposit.

I suggest that you send a demand letter and be prepared to go to small claims court if unsuccessful. Since you did not get credit for your security deposit, I would be concerned that the new owner probably also didn’t receive any move-in inspection sheet or notes that you may have given at the time you first moved in that would indicate any damage or problems that preexisted your tenancy.

This could result in unreasonable or improper charges against your security deposit for damages that you did not cause or did not occur during your tenancy. …CONTINUED

I commend you for keeping good records to be able to prove you paid the $1,500 security deposit four years ago and hope that you also kept proof of the apartment’s condition upon move-in in case there is a disagreement on the return of your deposit.

Q: Two tenants in my apartment community have recently installed satellite dishes, which are attached to the fascia of the building. One is on the fascia above the patio for her unit, but the other tenant had his installed on the fascia on the back wall of another tenant’s apartment (not the satellite dish owner’s apartment). The manager gave them both verbal permission to put up the dishes, but has refused me permission to put one on the fascia above my patio. Is it true that what’s good for one is good for all and a fascia is a fascia? Should I put up my own satellite dish even though the manager is being discriminatory?

A: There is an easy answer, as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been very assertive in defining the rights of citizens to install these popular new satellite dishes. The laws have greatly increased the rights of consumers (i.e. tenants and condo owners) to place the small dishes up on their property, but there is still some subjectivity to each situation.

While the tenant or condo owner may have the right to install a satellite dish, the landlord or homeowner association retains the right to approve the exact placement and can reasonably reject the proposed placement if another location will also work and is aesthetically better. Therefore, you need to ask your landlord where he will approve the placement of your dish and then make sure that the satellite installers agree that the landlord’s suggested location will work.

One very legitimate concern of the landlord is that the satellite dish installation needs to be done in a manner that is waterproof and will not compromise the integrity of the structure.

Some installations I have seen are so poorly done that significant damage has been done to the building. With good communication and professional installation, solutions can often be found that will address the legitimate concerns of the owner or homeowner association while giving the tenant or owner the benefits they seek with their new satellite dish.

This column on issues confronting tenants and landlords is written by property manager Robert Griswold, author of "Property Management for Dummies" and co-author of "Real Estate Investing for Dummies."

E-mail your questions to Rental Q&A at rgriswold.inman@retodayradio.com.

Questions should be brief and cannot be answered individually.


What’s your opinion? Leave your comments below or send a letter to the editor. To contact the writer, click the byline at the top of the story.

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