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Anybody heard of CJM Refinishing on STX?  

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Alana33
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October 19, 2012 12:54 pm  

It would be good if you had pictures of the condition you left the rental upon your vacating it, including that of the furniture they sent you the bill for refinishing. I always take pics of before and after as well as have tenants sign off on a Condition Survey which I remind them to look at, prior to vacating premises and do a walk thru with them to address any cleaning, necessary repairs, etc.
I agree that 6 months is too long to wait for itemized deductions to be made and the return of your deposit unless prior arrangements had been made with your agreement.
Do you know whether the rental has been occupied since your departure up to present date that you received the refinishing billing?
Could the damage have been made by a different tenant?
Does your lease doc. refer to a time line for the return of the deposit? Most do or should.
Did you call Dept. of Licensing and Consumer Affairs to see if CMJ Refinishing has a business license and be traced that way?

I would suggest doing this prior to your next conversation with the property management company.
If you can get no response from the person(s) you have been dealing with at the management company, ask to speak directly with the owner
of both the rental and the business, who may or may not be aware of your situation. Did you keep records of how often you have called and who you spoke to each time? Is it always the same person?

Usually with a management company, deposits are held in escrow, by company until returned, less itemized deductions.
This depends on who your rental and deposit checks were made out to, the company or the owner.

You may also want to see if the management company is properly licensed to conduct business and who the owner of the company is,
if they have had prior complaints regarding withholding deposits, etc., as you will need this info to go to Small Claims Court and/or file a complaint with Dept. of Licensing.

Good Luck.


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Neil
 Neil
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October 19, 2012 3:00 pm  

Alas, no photos. This is good advice for others, which is why I'm continuing to post about it.

Lease said "deposit less expenses returned with 60 days" which would have been March 30. Invoice was dated August.

At your advice, I searched the database at the Dept of Licensing and "CJM" returns "no records found". No surprise there.

We did leave a water ring on one of their tables. And it should cost a modest amount to repair that. But we had already been docked half our substantial deposit for other things.

For example, it was a rental condo at Carambola, which as most probably know have no glass windows, just wood louvers. We went through 2 hurricanes and 3 tropical storms there, which to those who live on island, and especially at Carambola, know means dampness and stuff coming through the screens (and even around the shutters during storms). The living room had 18 ft ceilings, and they not only kept our pet deposit, but charged us for cleaning their high walls. In our previous condo stay at the same place, different condo, we had $0 cleaning bills, and we went through Omar there. We lived at a house out east and paid just $160 for a cleaning lady upon move out, which I consider reasonable. Yet in this condo, we have been docked nearly $1200, after spending $64,000 in rent to live there. We chose not to dispute every charge, but this furniture charge from an apparently bogus company 6 months after the fact on top of everything else is beyond the pale.


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Alana33
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October 19, 2012 5:18 pm  

Call Dept. of Licensing to inquire about what you may be able to do, just don't only check their data base.
Ask regarding complaints and licenses for both the refinishing company and the management company.
You will need that info no matter how you proceed.


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speee1dy
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October 19, 2012 6:10 pm  

i would dispute most things if i were you, sounds like they took you to the cleaners when there is no real basis for them to do so-i would get a lawyer


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vicanuck
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October 20, 2012 12:43 pm  

Small claims court would be the best avenue for this one. No lawyers required.

You'll win for sure.


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Neil
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October 21, 2012 12:40 am  

I just want the last of remaining deposit back. Enough is enough.

Farchette and Hanley, the "management" company, finally emailed me back yesterday basically saying they were walking away from "the dispute", --that according to the contract, they don't have to deal with it, ...it's between the owners and renters, and they'll just hold onto the $500 until they get written releases from both sides.

All through the rental period, Farchette and Hanley was the go-between, cashing the checks, and addressing maintenance issues. But at the end of the contract, when no more money is coming from us, and when the owners don't hold to the 60 day clause, the management company bugs out on both sides. Nice.

Point: There was no "dispute". A "dispute" would require an invoice of alleged repairs for us to dispute! The owners had 60 days to produce an invoice for alleged repairs. They took 7 months. The management company should have informed them of their fiduciary responsibility to return our money on Day 61. Case closed.

I actually think the owners are nice off-island people who just took their damn time, weren't properly prepared for renter wear and tear, and should have been reminded by THEIR management company to "get it done within 60 days".


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sallyf
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October 21, 2012 6:03 am  

Perhaps I am just a cynical wretch...but when I used to investigate for the Gov...amateurs usually stay within their comfort zone and try and slide into a fib with a "oh it was a mistake" if caught...I noticed that Iris gave several (also known as's) for the woman - Caroline June and the initial M - CJM Refinishing????
I guess I just spent too long on the dark side 🙂

Perhaps you could phone and email Chris Hanley, the owner of F@H and explain to him the situation - you have proof that the invoice is bogus, the 60 day cut off was ignored and that this might not go well for him - see if that shakes anything up.

Might also be worth investigating putting a claim with the st croix board of realtors ?

This is Chris's mobile phone: (340) 277-1364


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Neil
 Neil
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October 21, 2012 12:48 pm  

Thanks Sally. I noticed the same thing about the initials. The other owner's name ends in "m" but I'm trying to not think that.

Kerri Hanley has been copied on numerous emails.

I've now contacted the owners directly since F+H has walked away and hoping to hear back. The Bd of Realtors sounds like a next step.


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Alana33
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October 21, 2012 4:18 pm  

Here is the link for the STX Board of Realtors - http://stcroixrealtors.com/
Good Luck.

For future reference - Take before and after pictures and have whomever is responsible, especially if an agent for a management company, for checking the rental upon departure, sign off on a condition survey or a release. Granted, things can come up even afterwards but it more or less covers things.

Always make sure you have a date for return of your deposit on your lease, less itemized deductions. 30 days is the minimum norm since WAPA bills are a month behind and it can take that long to get things done if tenant has left things in a state of disrepair (which many do, unfortunately).

It is usual to give tenant a list and copies of bills or expenditures for deductions and/or pictures of what was repaired/replaced, etc.. At least, that is what most responsible landlords will do to avoid controversy and small claims court, if it becomes necessary to withhold any portion or the entirety of the deposit.

You may want to ask for the copy of the check that was paid to CJM refinishing from the management company or owner as proof of payment and see if they can come up with that as most companies doing that work for an owner/landlord or a management company are not going to wait 6 months or more, to be paid.


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sallyf
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October 21, 2012 5:33 pm  

excellent advice - an invoice is NO proof that this 'ahem' company was paid


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Neil
 Neil
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October 21, 2012 7:23 pm  

Good points.

The owners, however, havent been reimbursed even if the invoice turns out to be legit. Why? Because Farchette and Hanley says they still hold the $500 deposit. Only this past week did they write that they were holding it pending written agreement between the owners and me.

They allowed the owners to take 7 months to finally come up with the alleged refinishing Quote (not an invoice!). There was no "dispute" because the owners never presented us with and invoice within the 60 day window stipulated in the lease agreement.

By F+H's reasoning, the owners could have taken a year or two to finally come up with a quote. Ridiculous.
60 days is 60 days, not 7 months. And 60 days is plenty of time.

I hope Chris Hanley steps in and says they made a mistake. I'd respect that.


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Alana33
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October 21, 2012 9:18 pm  

My point was that if the repair work was done to the table then someone would have had to pay for it, hence a canceled check.
Not just have an estimate done by a company that no-one seems willing to identify or admit exists and give a work number or
contact name, mailing and physical address for.

If, 7 months later, no repair or replacement has been ordered and paid for by either the owner or the management company then, they should return your money as it is not affecting their ability to rent the unit with or without the damaged (?) furniture in question.
$500 seems more than adequate to buy a brand new piece if it was so damaged it could not be utilized and they would have already done so.
.
Another way would be to request a picture of the table, in question, as it looks as of tomorrow's date.
If it was worth repairing and was an important piece, it should/would have already been done.

If the owners had not presented anyone with an invoice within the 60 days that the lease agreement DICTATES by law, for the already repaired and paid for item, then the owners forfeit the right to do so 7 months later. Mind you, I am not an attorney but the whole thing makes no sense to me given the time line and the inadequate and unseemly delays in response to your request for the return of the deposit, a phony quote (?) and all the other excuses without proof (?).


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Neil
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October 23, 2012 12:43 am  

Good news. The matter has been settled. 🙂

I do not think there were any bad motives on anyone's part, just a disagreement based on interpretation of the contract.

I learned to take "before" photos and be persistent we you believe in your point of view.

Sometimes people complain about this board, but your advice and support meant a lot.

Wife and I bringing our tourist dollars first week of Dec!

Look for the pale white guy drinking Presidente Light at Off the Wall.


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Iris Tramm
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October 23, 2012 1:46 am  

Look for the pale white guy drinking Presidente Light at Off the Wall.

Jezum Crow, don't drink that crap in my honor.


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OldTart
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October 23, 2012 11:07 am  

Glad to hear you got it sorted out. It's really too bad that the USVI doesn't have comprehensive landlord tenant laws which are the norm in every US state and which are easily accessible online and with most states publishing landlord tenant handbooks designed to educate both parties on lease preparation and execution. So many (particularly residential) leases here are poorly slapped together and Small Claims court cases would be significantly reduced if both landlords and tenants had some guidelines to go by.


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Neil
 Neil
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October 23, 2012 11:49 am  

Look for the pale white guy drinking Presidente Light at Off the Wall.

Jezum Crow, don't drink that crap in my honor.

Now you're talking crap!
Glad to see we're back to normal again. 😉


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Alana33
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October 23, 2012 12:11 pm  

Glad to hear the good news and that the matter is at long last, settled.
It's a good thing you were persistent.

Don't forget, a lease is a legal and binding document.
It outlines the responsiblities of each party and they must abide by those terms.


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