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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 35352
Experience:  16 yrs practice, Civil, Criminal, Domestic, Realtor, Landlord 26 yrs
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I am the legal sole owner of my home. I rent out rooms to

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I am the legal sole owner of my home. I rent out rooms to single people as roommates/renters for up to a year or so at a time. I furnished everything in my home, don't charge much. I do get a cleaning/security deposit from my renter/roommates as is usually wise for a owner/landlord to do. I recently had a 57 yr old man residing in my home. He moved out without more than a day or two's notice, however, I knew he was looking to move somewhere else for personal reasons. He was very upsetting to me and did things to hurt me emotional, not physically. He moved out fast, didn't meet the terms and conditions to get his deposit back. He didn't clean the bedroom and bathroom, didn't get all his stuff out, did not return my house key and took at least one personal item of mine. This man stating he was through moving out, left and did not return my house key. Within minutes of his leaving, I sent him a text message on his phone to please bring back my house key and to please get the rest of his stuff. He texted me back with about 10-15 minutes and stated he would contact me in a few days and make the exchanges of property. After two weeks, he still did not do this. I told him I had no choice but to change all the locks to my home. That cost me. I never had to do that before. I did this after he would not bring back the key in a timely matter within a few days. I had unfortunately, wrote a check out for him prematurely for $396.00. That was to include the deposit and prorated the difference of the rent he already paid for the month of June. He was supposed to be out June 23rd. He took the check before he finished moving out and tried to cash the check even though he did not return the house key. I put a stop payment on the check. He became furious, very angry at me. He stated he was going to sue me and take me to small claims court if I didn't pay him what he wants. We are only talking about a few hundred dollars here at the most. There are feelings and emotional issues that go along with this problem as well but I won't go into that, at least not now. What do you advise?
Hello and thank you for using JA! My goal is to provide you with excellent service and help with your legal problem.
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What state are you in as landlord tenant laws change from state to state?
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Did you send him a written itemized list of deductions from his deposit?
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Do you have a forwarding address?
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Have you changed the locks?
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Thanks
Barrister
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Yes, I did change the locks. That cost me $75.00 that I would otherwise not have had done. I live in Fresno, CA. I listed in my Craigslist ad that the room(s) were to be left the way they were when he moved in. That the house key was to be returned, that he was supposed to have all his stuff out of the house (he didn't leave that much). I have the receipt with the date, name of the locksmith and cost to change the locks. There is texting via phone with most of the communication with dates, times, etc. on record. After almost 2 weeks, I had to take the stuff he left and put it in his storage unit. I thought I waited long enough. Do you want my e-mail address or my mailing/residential address?


Colleen Burroughs

Customer: replied 3 years ago.


If you mean did he leave me a forwarding address, the answer is no. He won't tell me where he is living or where he moved to. I only know it is in the area. Fresno is a big city.


Colleen

Ok, in a situation like this, if the tenant breached the rental agreement by not removing his property and returning the key then you would be legally able to deduct the cost of any repairs or cleaning and the cost of changing the locks from his deposit if he had stated to you that he was moving out and abandoning the dwelling.
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Typically you would have to terminate his tenancy in writing and then move to evict him as he would legally be considered a tenant under CA law if you rent out more than one room in your home. But if he told you he was abandoning the dwelling, then it would have been reasonable for you to act to secure it by changing the locks and assume that the tenancy has terminated.
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With that said, you have 21 days under CA law to send him a written itemized list of any deductions along with the balance of his deposit. If he has not given you a forwarding address, then you would need to mail it to his last known address (probably yours) certified mail so you have proof of mailing.
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So at this point, you want to make sure you strictly comply with CA law on the matter and send out the itemized list along with his refund. If he wants to take it up in small claims court later, that is his right. But if you have documented everything with photos and receipts and have complied with CA law, then he will have a difficult time winning if he tries to sue.
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Thanks.

Barrister

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If you need further help, just reply to me via the “REPLY” button and I will be happy to continue.

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I cannot enter into an attorney client relationship, this is a public forum, and all posts are available for public viewing. There is no duty of confidentiality that attaches to any posts. The information provided is not a substitute for a local attorney’s legal advice.

Barrister and 6 other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thank you so much, that helps me a lot.


Colleen Burroughs

You are very welcome. Just comply with the law and don't get dragged into the tenant's drama. He may have some mental or emotional issues that cause him to act that way.
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Thanks
Barrister