I have a legal question about the amount my landlord withheld from my deposit. I lived in the rental for 3 years and gave a deposit of $2150 plus $500 for pet deposit. I received back $1,256.29. The statement of charges are as follows:Painting: The deprecated amount of $3,000 amount for the life expectancy of four years -$750Cleaning: Ceiling fan, light fixtures, switch plates and switches, windows (exterior), screens, garage shelves, swept garage, stove top knobs, bottom kitchen cabinets, blinds, discounted to ten hours of cleaning @ $20 an hour - $200.00Hard Wood Floors: Resealed (These were sanded and sealed in 2006 for $837.31 the amount due for the remaining expectancy of life is the above amount we gave you the deprecated amount, rather than the amount it cost us to re-seal it again. The amount for just one coat was $443.50) - $334.92Window Parts for Front Andersen Window: No Charge for the Labor - $48.79Screens: Replaced Three Torn and Damaged @ $20 each - $60.00Total Charges: $1,393.71Here is my question: Aren't some of these charges for things which should be considered "normal wear and tear". For example, after living there for 3 years shouldn't the walls needing to be repainted and the hard wood floors needing resealing fall under "normal wear and tear"? I have lived in many rentals in my life and have never had a landlord charge me for such things in even less time living in a place.
In which State is the property located?
The California Department of Consumer Affairs agrees they should not charge you for repainting if you rented there for over 2 years, seehttp://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/sec-deposit.shtmlDid the landlord send you the refund and accounting of the security deposit within 21 days after you vacated the unit?
I received it on the 21st day.
The link I posted to the DCA page has a lot of information:"Suppose that the windows were dirty when you moved in, and that they were just as dirty when you moved out. According to the security deposit statute, the windows are in "the same state of cleanliness" as at the beginning of your tenancy. The statute does not allow the landlord to deduct from your security deposit to do this cleaning."Were the windows clean when you first moved in?Was the "pet deposit" refunded?
I want to ask what year you moved in. You wrote the floors were sealed in 2006- were they ever resealed after that?
She doesn't mention what part of the refunded portion is the pet deposit in the itemized statement. I moved in to the rental in June of 2009. No, I do not believe they were resealed after 2006. Also, the funny thing about the painting is they own a painting business. They also list repainting the backyard fence which I wasn't charged for ($2150) but I am sure they plan to use it as a tax write off.
It seems clear to me that the deduction for painting was improper, as was the deduction for resealing floors that were already overdue to be resealed before you moved in.The usual remedy if you cannot negotiate an adjustment with the landlord, is to file a case in small claims court to recover the portions of the deposit that were improperly withheld, seehttp://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/small_claims/index.shtmlI believe the retention of the portion retained for painting was in bad faith, see section 31.81 athttp://www2.courtinfo.ca.gov/protem/pubs/bg31.pdfwhich states:"A tenant who is dissatisfied with the amount of the refund atthat time may pursue the landlord in a later court action. See CC§§1950.5(l), (n) (landlord of residential property may be liable for statutorydamages of up to twice amount of security in addition to actualdamages"If your County has a small claims advisor, you can find the office throughhttp://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-advisors.htmif you need help after looking athttp://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-smallclaims.htmYour County law library probably has a copy of Everybody's Guide to Small Claims Court in California fromhttp://www.nolo.com/products/everybodys-guide-to-small-claims-court-in-california-CSCC.html which I also recommend.The small claims court forms are linked fromhttp://www.courts.ca.gov/forms.htm?filter=SCI hope this information is helpful.
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