Tuesday, January 15, 2008

It's my policy to not do things I don't have to do

Yesterday was the last day of our lease on our old place. We scrubbed the place out this past weekend, and yesterday I went to drop off the keys. The property manager seemed very confused to see me there.

Her: Do you have a final inspection scheduled?

Me: No, nobody contacted me about one.

Her: Did you fill out a notice to vacate?

Me: No, the lease says no notice is required.

This seemed to confuse her even more.

Her: It's our policy to have people fill them out.

Me: Well, I didn't know that, and the lease doesn't require it, so I didn't.

Her: Would you be willing to fill one out now with your forwarding address and contact information?

Me: Sure.

She gave me a form which was attached to a multi-page document full of tiny print with detailed instructions on exactly how to clean out the apartment before vacating it and providing a schedule of charges in the event you haven't done a sufficient job. Like, "failure to treat for fleas and ticks if you have a pet -- $125"; "dirt on the counters -- $25." The list was extensive and totally unenforceable, in my humble legal opinion. The notice to vacate form had a series of boxes to initial indicating you had received the instructions and fee schedule such that, presumably, you agreed to be bound by them.

I filled out the form with my new address and phone number, but didn't initial any of the boxes, and I handed the form back to her and started to leave.

Her: Wait a minute! You need to initial these boxes.

Me: No, I'm not going to. I didn't receive any of this information before today, and in any event, it's not in the lease, so I didn't agree to it and it's not enforceable against me.

Her: But I'm giving you the documents today, so you can initial that you received them.

Me: No. Today is too late. I didn't receive them in advance.

Her: But you're getting them now.

Me: Look. If I initial these boxes, then that could be interpreted as some kind of acknowledgment on my part that I received the documents in advance and that I agreed to comply with all this stuff. And I didn't get it in advance -- I got it today, after I had already moved out. It's too late. I'm not initialling.

All of this may seem very tough on my part (my mother called me a "pistol"), but it was made infinitely easier by the fact that when we moved in, they gave us a special promotional deal in which we paid no security deposit, so they have nothing of mine that they can use as leverage. If they ask me for money, I'll tell them that I'll rewrite their leases and forms for whatever amount they're seeking, and we can walk away even.

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