Just before I left my perch to head over to the court house, I ran a quick check on Chamisa Management at nmcourts.
(by the way, Chamisa Management also operates under other names, including Vista Property Management, which I'll check later when nmcourts is back online. Oddly enough, Chamisa Management isn't listed, on google at least. Neither company has a website.)
It seems that my former landlords were involved in no less than 129 court cases at the moment I checked. We can presume, perhaps, that most of these were for late or non-payment of rent, as in every single of one of them, Chamisa Management was the plaintiff. Aka, the one sue'ing someone else.
Amazing, thought I, that a company could spend so much of it's time in the right while the rest of us are always wrong. Perhaps it's a koan or a lesson, me fellow poor folk - the rich get richer because they have no fear of using the courts. And at this point, neither do I.
(addendum: A possible reason why no one sues Chamisa Management Corp. - as I was leaving court, the clerk told me they couldn't serve a summons to a P.O. Box, which is what Chamisa Management Corp. (of course) lists on their paper work. Fortunately, I used to hand-deliver my rent - their physical address is 227 E Palace Ave # H Santa Fe, NM 87501, in case anyone wants to know.)
As I headed to court, (the one for small claims, by the way, is MAGISTRATE, located at the bleeding end of Galisteo Street on the other side of St. Michael's) I thought about what my arguments are against what I believe is a totally *excessive* cleaning fee. $517, by the way, in case you've forgotten. Here they are, in glorious detail:
1) I did not originally rent the property from Chamisa Management, but instead from Jane & Bill Buscher. Sometime during the winter, my house was sold to Chamisa Management - traded, actually, for another property on Alto Street. When I found out that Chamisa Management owned the house in which I lived, I asked them about "the future" and was told that my lease would not be extended beyond the original agreement I had with the Buchsers. I was told by one employee of the company that they planned to renovate the property and jack up the rents. I was later told by people in the office that it would be renovated and sold. Whatever the case, it was my understanding that the property would be renovated as soon as I moved out.
Indeed, I was offered in March that if I were to move out early, before my lease was through in July, I could have a free month's rent in April, an offer I declined. Clearly, Chamisa Management Corp. was in a rush to get into the house and renovate.
In the month before I moved out, I called Elaine Herrera at the office and left messages asking her if there was any specific check-list I should follow in cleaning the house. She never called back. At one point I spoke with someone in the office who told me, "they're just going to renovate, it doesn't matter too much."
I find it hard to believe that 23 hours was spent just on what I left behind and nothing else - like, say, for example, debris and cleaning from a renovation.
I dispute this cleaning bill because I simply do not believe that the activity of cleaning the house rested on my "mess" alone. I would like it to be proven to the court that the defendants went into my house after I moved out, cleaned it for 23 hours, and then renovated and cleaned it all over again with none of the cleaning from the renovation being included as part of my cleaning bill.
2) I would like to dispute the time time supposedly spent cleaning the house. 23 hours is an extraordinary amount of time for even the worst house-keeper. I would like to know how it is possible to spend 7 hours cleaning a washer, a dryer, and refrigerator particularly when I believe I cleaned those items before I left. I would like to know why I would be charged for painting - there were no visible stains on the walls when I left, and wouldn't that fall under normal wear and tear anyway? Given that the plaintiff to renovate, I'm a little confused why my deposit should pay for their upgrades.
3) I would like the dispute the hourly fee for cleaning the house. Santa Fe's living wage this year is at $10.50 an hour. How is it possible for Chamisa Management Corp. to more or less arbitrarily decide that $22.50/hr. is what they will pay to clean a house? Carpenters make $22.50/hr. if they're lucky. In the lease I signed, there was no provision which stated that I would be charged $22.50/hr. for house-cleaning. Can Chamisa Management Corp. charge me whatever it wants? I should think not.
It costs $67 to file in Small Claims Court. I'll do it for no better reason than to waste their time. They took my money. I want them to have to prove that a $517 cleaning bill is totally reasonable for a house that costs $985 a month. You mean I could've lived there for two extra weeks if I just cleaned it better?
By the way - the place was pretty clean when I left. Not picture perfect, I'll admit, but since I kept being told that they'd be renovating. With a charge like that, I should've trashed the place. But I didn't. Treating a tenant like they're total trash is evil. I can't wait to go to court - either I'll win or I'll get to see the judge side with these parasites and I'll have a much clearer understanding of the kind of person I should be in the future.