Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Dorfman Property Management v. Edwards

Court of Appeals of Indiana

June 28, 2018

Dorfman Property Management, Appellant-Defendant,
v.
Tameka Edwards, Appellee-Plaintiff.

          Appeal from the Boone Superior Court The Honorable Bruce E. Petit, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 06D02-1704-SC-281

          Attorney for Appellant Andrew J. Borland Indianapolis, Indiana

          Bailey, Judge.

          Case Summary

         [¶1] Dorfman Property Management ("Dorfman") appeals a small claims judgment ordering that Dorfman return to its former tenant, Tameka Edwards ("Edwards"), a portion of her security deposit. Dorfman presents the sole issue of whether the judgment is clearly erroneous because Edwards was charged for less than all costs incurred by Dorfman, specifically, those for professional housecleaning and repainting. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On February 26, 2016, Edwards and Dorfman executed a one-year lease for a house in Whitestown, Indiana ("the Lease"). The house was to be occupied by Edwards and her three children. Edwards agreed to pay monthly rent of $1, 250.00 and she tendered a $2, 500.00 security deposit to Dorfman. The Lease specified that the "amount necessary to have the carpet professionally cleaned" would be deducted from the security deposit, as would amounts "reasonably required" to reimburse Dorfman for cleaning and repair in "all rooms in which Tenant shall have damaged or irreparably marked the walls." (Def. Ex. B. Para. 9.)

         [¶3] Upon move-in, Edwards asked that certain exterior damages be repaired. With that matter unresolved, more serious habitability issues arose. A sewer backup occurred at the rental property and Dorfman attempted to charge Edwards for the maintenance response. Edwards obtained not-for-profit legal assistance; after their intervention on Edwards's behalf, Dorfman ceased demanding payment from Edwards related to the sewer backup. Thereafter, the air conditioning in the home stopped functioning. Edwards again obtained legal assistance and the air conditioning unit was repaired.

         [¶4] At the end of the Lease, Edwards gave notice of her intent to vacate the premises and provided a forwarding address in Georgia. Dorfman mailed Edwards a "Move Out/Deposit Report"[1] assessing the following amounts:

Carpet Cleaning

$937.30

Housecleaning

225.00

Painting/Wall Repair

987.50

Door Tracks

74.00

Mini-blinds

45.00

Broken screens

70.00

Dishwasher wheel

45.00

Driveway Oil Stain

50.00

Microwave Repair

95.00

Toilet Seats/Lightbulbs

70.00

Sewer Bill

230.22

(Def. Ex. C.) Because the aggregate amount of $2, 829.02 exceeded the security deposit, Dorfman demanded payment from Edwards in the amount of $329.02.

         [¶5] Edwards sued Dorfman in small claims court to recover her security deposit. On August 15, 2017, the trial court conducted a hearing at which Edwards and Dorfman's Office/Maintenance Manager, Kari McAtee ("McAtee"), testified. Edwards and McAtee each submitted photographs for the trial court's review. Edwards testified that she had cleaned the house and patched any nail holes. She claimed that she had personally taken the photographs she submitted into evidence. McAtee testified that she had never been inside the house rented by Edwards, but that a leasing agent or real estate agent had photographed the house. McAtee's testimony consisted of her description of what those photographs depicted. McAtee testified that the photographs depicted scuff marks, dirty walls and baseboards, hair and dirt, a black mark on a wall, a missing dishwasher wheel, and an unclean door.

         [¶6] The trial court issued an order on October 18, 2017. The trial court's order stated that it had found the photographs tendered by Edwards "to be particularly persuasive" and that the property had been "well-maintained" by Edwards. (Appealed Order at 4.) The order also stated that "cleaning could have been a bit more thorough" but there was a lack of "actual damage" to the rental property beyond ordinary wear and tear for which a landlord would expect to be responsible as a "cost of doing business." Id. at 4-5. Dorfman was permitted to deduct from the deposit: professional carpet cleaning fee of $937.30, [2] an unpaid sewer bill of $230.22, replacement cost for door tracks of $74.00, and replacement cost for mini-blinds of $45.00. Dorfman was ordered to refund $1, 213.48 to Edwards.

         [¶7] Dorfman now appeals, contending that explicit terms of the Lease entitled Dorfman to retain sums for professional ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.