I have dealt with too many lawyers in the last few months – one to close the deal on my new home, another to incorporate, and finally one to recover the rent deposit from my last landlord.
The only interactions that I have enjoyed have been with the lawyer that set up my business in Barbados. [Keisha is amazing if anyone wants a referral.] She is the only one that I have truly felt has represented me.
The lawyer who is tasked with recovering my rent deposit contacted me yesterday. He received a phone call from my previous landlord’s attorney. Apparently, in this phone call, her lawyer conveyed that they had “numerous photos and evidence of the state of the property upon the end of the lease but never the less wishes to settle the matter.” Instead of keeping $1,500 BDS of my rent deposit, they are now offering to steal only $840 BDS.
My lawyer reminded me that I expressed a desire for mediation, rather than for court. Three months and $600 in legal fees have passed since I communicated this desire. This is the first contact that we have had with them. My landlord had refused to accept the letter that my attorney had couriered to her. She would have received the summons to court – our date is set for December 12th.
Why has their bid changed? Since I received notice from my landlord in August, I have been asking for receipts for a long list of items she said she was retaining from my deposit. She has never submitted one receipt or evidence of any sort to substantiate her claim.
What am I being held liable for? I moved out of that apartment May 1st with no problems expressed to me by my landlord, nor in the three months that followed. I left the property in good condition and good faith. Most of the items on her list, like broken lamps, were brought to her attention by me.
What am I negotiating?
Am I negotiating my way out of court for a situation that I did not initiate?
Am I negotiating to settle for $600 BDS more money? Money that was not the motivator to begin proceedings in the first place.
Am I negotiating how much money of mine she gets to keep? This is not a situation of an accident where we are trying to determine the value of its impact. This is a defined sum of money that she held in trust.
Am I negotiating for my mental state? I want all this to go away, but If I accept this offer, I will feel deflated. Why? Because at every step of this process, I feel that I am getting screwed! It feels like malicious intent due to the lack of communication and lack of evidence.
I turned to my lawyer for advice, and he provided none. So, I phoned Uncle Ken in Canada because he is a badass when it comes to staying the legal course. After an hour and a half of working through the emotion and then the details, here is where we landed:
In order to enter a negotiation, the other side must give something to negotiate.
In absence of evidence to substantiate her claim, there is nothing to work with. She may firmly believe that she is entitled those funds, but in absence of evidence, there is only bullying.
And bullying is something that I do not believe any of us should tolerate.
Over to you: What is the side of the story that I am not seeing?