When you are at the age where you want to move out on your own, typically your only option is renting a place. On the outside, renting seems very simple and easy. You agree to pay a certain amount to the landlord each month for an agreed upon number of months. Seems simple enough, right? Well, I found out the hard way is that it isn't always like that at all. Or anything relatively close.

I started renting a house in January of 2012. The house I was renting had actually been on the market for a while, so he agreed to let me lease with an option to buy at the end of the lease. The house was a beautiful, little one tucked off the road away from everything. A private little country house. It was perfect in my mind. So my parents and I paid what ended up being about $1,500 in deposits, and I was ecstatic.But the struggle that it was getting everything worked out should have been a sign of what was to come.

Throughout the year I lived there I didn't have much contact with my landlord. Everything had to be done by letter or through our Realtor. I had issues with a psycho roommate and had to find a new one, which was a little stressful. But that's a whole different story. When the time came that the lease was up, my options were to buy, or move. I pursued buying the property but the landlord started throwing out all of these insane extra fees and extra requirements for us buying the house. It eventually fell through.

So, I paid this guy even more money and paid a full months rent in January and was supposed to get some back depending on how long I actually spent in the house. By the time I moved out my rent should have been about $400, so he owed me $300. And I cleaned that house top to bottom, it was perfect. So I was expecting to get the other $1,500 in deposits back. WRONG.

The landlord basically disappeared from the face of the planet after that. We called, left messages, emailed and tried to contact as many ways as possible. He ended up taking his voicemail off his phone, changed his email, and we never heard from him again. I never knew where my money went until yesterday.

After nearly six months of ignored contact, my dad finally got a hold of the man's Realtor. She explained to us that we weren't getting any money back, which we figured out on our own. Here are the things that all of my deposits supposedly went to:

  • Exterminating for mice and roaches
  • Supposedly breaking a window and replacing it with plexiglass
  • Trashing and tearing up the yard
  • Leaving trash and junk scattered throughout the living room.

Now, all of those are logical reasons, except they aren't true. Every home in the country deals with mice and bugs; we had them when we moved in. I don't even know the difference in glass and plexiglass windows. And let's be realistic, a 20-year-old girl has no idea how to replace a window. The driveway was an uneven rock driveway with no parking, so we parked in the grass. Other than that we never went outside, ever. And lastly, I along with two others were the last people in the house and not a single piece of dust was left anywhere. It was spotless.

So, this guy screwed me out of thousands of dollars and ran off. I will never see that money again, nor will I ever be able to do something about it. I now have an apartment, but I didn't realize all of the issues renters do to get money out of their tenants. Since this happened yesterday, I've heard of several stories of how people got severely played when they rented.

So, note to self and any other potential renters: never rent if you have another option. And make sure everything is signed, documented, photographed, and done in person. Do some research on your landlord if you can. Chances are you're going to wish you did when your hundreds to thousands of dollars short in your bank account.