Editor of the Reformer,
After reading Ms. Fegley's letter in the Wednesday edition of the Reformer ("Leave rental system alone"), and having watched the last Brattleboro Select Board meeting, I feel the need to urge caution to the board and to carefully consider all of the consequences before enacting a limitation on how much a property owner may charge for a tenant to move into a apartment.
I have been a property owner for several years in town and assisted my parents in managing their properties for over 15 years. I do agree that having to come up with basically three months rent is a large burden for a vast portion of our population. I myself have started charging this only in the last few years. Since doing so, I have not had one negative experience with any tenant. It was only after numerous times of damage exceeding the security deposit, tenants leaving with no notice, and at times tenants taking only the clothes they had and leaving all furniture behind did I start to require the extra charge. I might add that a property owner must store all belongings that any tenant leave behind for 60 days unless they have written permission to do otherwise.
I have had to over the years take several tenants to court and never have lost a case, but it comes at great expense to do so. At a minimum, several thousand dollars. Of which, it is clearly stated in my lease that all tenants are responsible for legal costs to evict. But, where is a tenant going to come up with that kind of money, when for the most part, they are getting evicted for failure to pay rent, and you can only start eviction after they are a month behind? I have never evicted a tenant without first exhausting all other efforts to work the issue out otherwise.
A month's security deposit dose not even cover when a landlord needs to replace a carpet, or appliances or any other bigger ticket items.
If, indeed, the town does choose to limit what a property owner can charge for a tenant to move in, then why would it not be just as justified, that the town help the property owner recover damages incurred when such tenant moves out or is evicted to cover damages that exceed the security deposit.
Brattleboro, Sept. 11