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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 27654
Experience:  Attorney
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Lucy, here is the response, i received from my land lord.

Customer Question

hi Lucy, here is the response, i received from my land lord. During your move out a few weeks ago it was discovered that your kitchen countertop was damaged with stains to a level we needed to replace it. We did some research and discovered your counter
top was installed during the last quarter of 2013, just prior to you renting the apartment. You were the first tenant. The counter was brand new. In such a case we would deduct from the security deposit for such damage, which was for beyond normal wear and
tear. That top should have lasted 15 years, or more. It lasted 2. I was not prepared to pay to have that top replaced for another 13 years. While we do not have any obligation to credit you any amount from what we deducted from your security deposit, we are
willing to give you back a credit of $300. We budgeted $1300 (top) / 15 yrs which is $86/year of a cost to me each year for the life of the top. $86 x 2years is $172, that i budget as a cost to me. It has not cost me $1300, unexpectedly. However i am willing
to absorb $300 as opposed to $172, as a gesture of good faith. Please note that after speaking to the resident manager, she claims she spoke with you or your wife on more than one occasion highlighting that the counter was in poor shape and damaged, but did
not definitely indicate it would be deducted from your security deposit. This alone is the reason for the credit. please advise on the same.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
Hi,
In court, your landlord has the burden of proving all of the things they're saying. A letter is not proof. That means she would need to produce:
1. The original receipt for the counters showing they were installed in 2013.
2. Picture showing that the counters were stained beyond repair.
3. Evidence that stains rendered the counter non-functional as opposed to creating a cosmetic issue (rental houses don't have to be pristine).
4. A receipt for the new counters.
5. Evidence that the original counters were supposed to last 15 years.
You have the ability to demand that she produce all of those things by a deadline you give her and if she can't, file a lawsuit. Or, you're allowed to just go to court to sue, since you gave her a chance and she didn't return the money.
Note that Cal. Civ. Code, Section 1950.5(g)(2) requires receipts, and failure to provide them can be used as evidence of bad faith even if you really did damage the property.
http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CIV§ionNum=1950.5.
Also, if she "budgeted" that sounds like the work hasn't actually be done. When it is not possible to do the work within the 21 days allowed by the statute, then the landlord can deduct a good faith estimate - but then they only have another two weeks to get you the receipts plus any money owed to you.
You do have the option of keeping the $300 and walking away if you think that's fair based on what the house looked like when you left. But it doesn't sound like that's the case, and you don't have to just take her word for it that this work needed to be done.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
well, by crediting me $300, he means he is going to deduct $1000 already from my security deposit.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 1 year ago.
I know. A person in your situation has the option of agreeing to that. But you by no means have to, especially if the counter wasn't stained when you left.

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