Branbury Park landlord nightmare. What should I do?
We lived in Branbury Park for a little while. It's a nightmare there, just in case you're considering moving in. Parking spots are rarely available and maybe eight inches wider than a standard car, management sucks bigtime, there is hardly any insulation so you pay through-the-roof gas bills in the winter and electric bills in the summer, the "free internet" is actually not free and fails, on average, about once every five days, etc, etc. I could make a much more comprehensive list. One particular problem we had was the sewage from our neighbors coming up into our toilet. When we moved in the place was a wreck; we told the management and they said, "Oh really? That stinks." ["Quit complaining and go clean it up."]
I sent in work orders on a regular basis, and it wasn't just little stuff... We had serious ant problems. Our heater wouldn't work. The blinds in the front room were broken in half and laying in the floor. Aside from the heater, I never asked less than four times (every other day) before they would do something about it. But the real kicker was when, after we had already pretty much made our post-Branbury plans, they stuck a note on our door that said, "We know the contract says you have until August 27, but you really need to be gone by August 22. Here's the checkout sheet, blah blah you'll pay these fines if it isn't exactly perfect." So this screwed us bigtime. Instead of being out be a Saturday, we had to be out that Monday. Which really meant we had to be out the weekend before, because people have work and school during the week, which obviously doesn't matter to the Provo landlords.
Anyhow, we had already paid our last month's rent, which was also our deposit, when we moved in, so when the 1st of August rolled around (a week after we got that notice), I just didn't pay them more rent. I'm sure they intended for us to pay for August and then get a "refund" on the balance, but I wasn't about to give them more money than the contract called for, and they had already changed the contract. Contracts are supposed to go two ways, right? Not in Provo, so I've learned. Well it gets worse, because a week after rent was due, they repeatedly went to our apartment and left the door open. We had almost everything boxed up and just waiting to take out; an invitation to anyone wanting an easy theft. Repeatedly. So on the night of the 15th, we moved out completely. Instead of paying for just five days rent of August at our new place, we paid for sixteen. Doesn't sound like much maybe-- those eleven days cost us over $200.
Anyhow, we moved out and I left a note that said, essentially, that they can't just kick us out early and expect us to just deal with it. I made a long list of reasons and left it there, with our keys and parking sticker. We cleaned up some, but not thoroughly. Vacummed and swept, but didn't follow those ridiculous four page checklists they give you. I figured that they already owed us some three hundred dollars.
But no, they went ahead and charged us for an additional week (through the 22nd) that we weren't there, then on top of that they slapped us with a few hundred dollars in non-cleaning fees. Of course I ignored their invoice to me. Today I got another statement, threatening legal action and a court appearance to me. For two hundred dollars we owe them.
I'm thinking about just ignoring it. I'm also thinking about writing a letter with a counter-suit (my lawyer thought that was a clever idea). What should I do? I'd love suggestions.