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legalgems, attorney
Category: CA Real Estate
Satisfied Customers: 9910
Experience:  Just Answer consultant at Self employed
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I have recently purchased my home. Yeah! no more renting In

Customer Question

I have recently purchased my home. Yeah! no more rentingIn the rental duplex we have lived in for close to 6 years.. I have a Security deposit of $2000 and $350x3 in pet deposits. The total is $3050. In talking with the landlord...she considers the pet deposits to be "non-refundable" and WILL NOT yield on this issue. Also the carpet is quite stained..BUT it was old when we moved in and we lived here for 6 years. She is insisting that we have the carpets cleaned otherwise she will subtract those costs from the $2000. She is not even considering returning the Pet deposits of $1050.I want to withhold the last 2 weeks of rent($1900) and leave her holding the I truly believe she WILL NOT return my SECURITY deposit of $3050. Can and SHOULD I do this... considering I will most likely be out that money..and collecting it from her will be a severe nuisance.I can notify her of my intentions..and have her subtract the last 2 weeks of rent from my security deposit.. I really dont want to LOSE to her. She is a deadbeat landlord..that is in DEFAULT on her MORTGAGE.. we know that!What do you recommend?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: CA Real Estate
Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.


Can you clarify what state this is in regards to? California?

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
redwood City California :)
Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

Thank you; if the pet deposit does not state nonrefundable, then the landlord (LL) can only deduct for actual damages caused by the pet.

Civil Code 1950.5 does not allow for nonrefundable deposits of any kind; that is the opposite of a deposit's very purpose. - statute is here.

The tenant is not liable for ordinary wear and tear; and carpet cleaning is ordinary wear and tear. Similarly smudges on walls are ordinary wear and tear (compare this to burns/red wine stains on the carpet; holes in the wall).

One cannot use the security deposit for last month's rent unfortunately ( unless the lease specifically states that it can (which is very rare as that defeats the purpose of the security deposit).

If the landlord wrongfully withholds the deposit, the proper remedy is to sue for recovery of the deposit, and the court can award 2x the amount wrongfully withheld (it is a good idea to do a walk through inspection). Detailed information is here:

and of course to take photos.

program to generate letter requesting return of deposit here:

small claims is the proper jurisdiction for cases under $10,000:

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Customer: replied 11 months ago.
I disagree slightly with your state "One cannot use the security deposit for last month's rent unfortunately " as your referenced link page says
"A security deposit is any money a landlord takes from a tenant other than the advance payment of rent. The security deposit serves to protect the landlord if the tenant breaks or violates the terms of the lease or rental agreement. It may be used to cover damage to the property, cleaning, key replacement, or back rent."I know the "proper" way is to sue..BUT i'm telling you.. I wont see the money
P.S. We are on a month to month rental--lease expired
Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

That link is from the state, and I could find no contrary authority allowing a tenant to apply the deposit to the rent, since that would defeat the purpose of the deposit.

If the tenant does use it as rent, by the time the eviction process happens, the tenant would already be out of the unit.

An expired lease converts to a month to month lease, and the security deposit carries over, as does all the terms of the lease (ie rent price, etc)

Customer: replied 11 months ago.
P.S. It looks like we did sign an addendum that states that the deposit for the dog was non-refundable.
Also there are MANY pet stains on the carpet...but it also has rips that were there from before..
Customer: replied 11 months ago.
Also the only "damages" are to a carpet that is over 6 years old
Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

Per the civil code, a deposit cannot be nonrefundable-the LL can only deduct actual damages-and the damages have to be related to the pet. The court will void the provision of the lease that states it is non refundable as illegal provisions in a lease are not binding.

If one can prove the carpet was damaged then that will help eliminate charges for damage to the carpet.

Expert:  legalgems replied 11 months ago.

Hi- just checking in to see if you needed clarification on any of the above information. If so please post here (there is no additional charge for this) and I will do my best to get you the requested information.

Thank you!