My first appointment at 109 Lauderdale Road Unit B, Nashville, TN, 37205, was with the property manager, Brad Williams. Together we looked around the unit. (~ 11/15/11 or 11/14/11). I asked Mr. Williams if he would be willing to rent the apartment to me mid-December explaining that I had to give a one month notice to my current apartment complex and would like to mitigate the expense of paying for two places at the same time. Mr. Williams expressed that he was not amenable to that and that his apartment needed to be rented at the beginning of December. He also explained that he requires applicants to provide one-half months rent with their rental application as earnest money. He assured me that if he rejects an applicant, he always returns the money.
Despite Mr. Williams being unwilling to rent to me starting mid-December, I submitted an application with $600 for first two weeks rent (11/17).
Brad Williams calls me (11/18) to tell me he contacted my current apartment leasing office and they told him I had a 3 year lease (mistake of the leasing office). I tell him that the information is incorrect and I would be happy to call them have them correct their mistake. I specifically ask Mr. Williams if he could call me after he hears from the leasing office, just to make sure he received the correct information. He replies that, yes, he would definitely do that. After waiting several hours to hear back from him, I call to find out whether or not he ever received the corrected information; he replies on the phone that he did. I said Oh, I was waiting to hear from you to which he does not respond, but then goes on to email me the deposit receipt and a copy of a rental agreement. (11/18)
I write him on 11/26 to tell him I need the meter number or name of his current tenant to get the electricity transferred. He text messages me back in response: My tenants name is XXX XXXXX - Brad. This is the first communication we have via text message. I text him back Thank you. After a couple minutes, Brad then actually calls me to tell me that he text messaged me. Confused, I respond that I had gotten his text and told him that I had actually texted him back. (11/26).
The following week, Brad gave me the option to obtain an email scan of the lease, and I said I could have my banker pay him directly on (12/1). He said the next day was fine, and the following day he texts me asking when he could expect payment. I text him back explaining that I wouldnt be able to pay until the following Monday. At that point he asked me to call him, however I had a bad transmission on my car and needed to get that taken care of before I could drive to meet him.
He texts me saying that Im making him nervous and asks whether he can meet me. I text him back, explaining that I didnt know how to respond to his concerns, but that I would bring him the documents and $ on (12/5).
When I write him on Monday [12/5/2011] to apologize for not being able to meet and to arrange a time/place for me to bring him the money and the signed lease, he writes me back telling me to call him.
I call to apologize for not being able to meet him the previous week. Mr. Williams pauses and then asks me to consult my deposit receipt. I reply Ok. And after another long pause on the phone he says I have decided not to rent to you but he does not explain why. His only response is that He likes things to go a certain way. I ask him if he is returning my money. He replies that he is not returning my first half month's rent but does not provide a reason for retaining it. When I asked him directly why my being delayed was a problem when he had the first two weeks rent from me, he does not answer my question but goes on to say that he chose me from a pool of applicants. I didn't understand the response knowing that landlords pick tenants based on a number of factors centered mainly on reliability of monthly payment, yet Mr. Williams was characterizing his choice to rent to me as some kind of privilege he was bestowing on me while avoiding my direct question. He then says, "If I could give you some advice as a landlord...," at which time I ended the conversation seeing it was unproductive because Mr. Williams was not responding to my direct questions.
As it turns out, Mr. Williams decided not to rent to me on Friday (12/2) itself, and re-posted the craigslist ad for this apartment on Friday itself after our text conversation. He did not inform me that he made this decision. I was left to find out after contacting him the following monday. If he had informed me of his decision to not rent to me when he made that decision, I would have had the entire weekend to make efforts to rearrange my plans and cancel the utilities activation. It is unclear to me why he chose to surprise me with this information when I wrote him on the following Monday.
As of December 1st, he had $600 for my ?rst two weeks of rent, and I had
all utilities scheduled for activation along with electricity already active at
the unit. I had not signed any document with Mr. Williams aside from my rental application.
I believe that I showed clear intent to rent with a short delay in meeting the landlord.
The reasons he gives for retaining my earnest money deposit are:
1.) It takes up to a month to rent a place;
2.) He needs to retain the money to offset the costs of his decision to not rent to someone in December
3.) We are both out $600 and in his words, We have to agree to disagree;
4.) He said that there are consequences to my actions.
Additionally, he falsely advertised on his craigslist ad that there was a W/D included. When I arrived at the unit and asked about the W/D, however, he said there was a set downstairs but it didnt work and that the current tenant was taking the working set with him. He relayed this information to me walking up the stairs from the basement before glaring at me and angrily stating that I hadnt even seen the bedrooms yet as I had ended up seeing the basement first as the door was ajar and I had asked him if I could see the basement. I wasnt sure how to interpret this beyond the possibility that Mr. Williams was bothered that I didnt see the rooms in the order which he wanted them to be seen in.
In an email exchange following our phone conversation (12/5) when I state to Mr. Williams that the deposit receipt says that the first two weeks rent is only forfeit if the tenant decides not to rent and in this case, since he as the landlord is deciding not to rent to me, under the specifications of the receipt, my money must be returned. Mr. Williams does not respond to my pointing out this fact; instead, he goes on to alternate between the reasons stated above as why he is retaining the deposit.
After looking at the deposit receipt again, I realized that it only has his signature on it. Mr. Williams continuously referred to this deposit receipt as a contract saying I did not honor it. However, what he refers to as a contract is only a receipt with only his signature on it that only proves that he has my first two weeks of rent that I included with my rental application. At this point I had only signed a rental application. Mr. Williams decided not to rent to other applicants and returned the money they appended to their applications. But even though Mr. Williams is now rejecting my application, he is not returning my first two weeks of rent.
An email request for Mr. Williams to please send a scanned copy of my signed rental application went unanswered.
My confusion lays in the fact that the landlord did not make the apartment available to other renters, yet he cites the vacant apartment and lack of rental income for the month of December, 2011, as reasons why he is being unreasonably inconvenienced. My position is that Mrs. Williams made the decision not to rent to me after I made it clear that I was willing and able to rent from him; indeed, I took initial steps to finalize the move with Mr. Williams knowledge and approval. I believe it stands to reason that when a landlord makes a decision that deprives him/her of a renter, then s/he must absorb the financial burden themselves. In this case, Mr. Williams felt that burden belonged to me, which I contest.