GRANITVILLE, SC- A soon to be tenant contact News 12 On Your Side after her landlord refuses to honor a clause in the lease agreement.
Jennifer Laird thought the brick home on a peaceful cul-de-sac looked like the perfect home for her and her husband's growing family. "When we came up it was very quiet. it was tons of other kids on the other end," she said. She says she signed the lease after a quick tour of the home.
It wasn't until a few days later, when she came to clean before moving into the home, did she notice the condition of the house. She says she found water damage, weak flooring, broken windows, and exposed wiring. She worried it wasn't a safe environment for her children so she asked for her $500 deposit back. Her landlord refused to give the deposit back.
News 12 contacted the landlord twice via telephone. Both times the landlord hung up. Finally, the she did return our call to say that she no longer wanted to rent the home to Laird and she wasn't giving her money back. She said she wasn't returning the deposit because she wrote on the receipt "non-refundable."
The lease agreement states: "Deposit is refunded ONLY if a 30 days notice in writing is given and house and yards are clean and no damages to the house." Laird says she sent a certified letter of her notice, even though she had yet to have moved into the home.
Attorney Richard Goolsby of Goolsby Law firm says the contract goes in affect as soon as it's signed. "The terms of the lease agreement are controlling. In other words the lease is just another word for contract," he said.
Goolsby says it's crucial for anyone renting a home to do their homework to avoid messing situations like these. "Before you sign a lease carefully read it including any fine print. and inspect the premises before you sign your name on the dotted line," Goolsby said.
Laird regrets not doing a closer inspection of the home herself.
Goolsby says it's best to try to work these disputes in person. However, some cases do require legal action in small claims court.