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Richard - Bizlaw
Richard - Bizlaw, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10610
Experience:  Commercial and residential leases in NY & NJ & US
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I'm a California residential landlord with a tenant (of 4.5

Customer Question

I'm a California residential landlord with a tenant (of 4.5 years) disputing refund for his security deposit $3,000. I provided an itemized list of repairs for damages over $6,000. I didn't ask for the balance of damages, just informed tenant that I'm not refunding his deposit. He's threatening small claims/sue me unless I return some of his deposit back.
My questions in preparation of small claims court:
1. for itemized deductions; how do I put a cost figure to repair something that can't be repaired? For example custom garage closets were off the cabinets and gorilla glued onto the the cabinet with cracks near hinges (I'm worried they will fall off). Or brown floor grout applied around a white sink and white ceramic tile counter? Contractor tried to re-grout and then "stain" over it, didn't work; he said I have to replace the counter or leave it as is. Tenants never contacted me about any necessary repairs.
2. Am I supposed to apply a depreciation value for replacing cracked toilet seats, broken plantation shutters, cracked light rocker switches, ceiling fans missing hardware, etc?
3. If I file a counter small claims case, can I present new damages and amounts? For example I'm still waiting for the HOA bill to repair spray paint stains on porch stucco walls.
Any advice is appreciated.
Tina, first time landlord, and hopefully the last time...
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 2 years ago.
Hello, my name is ***** ***** I will try to help you. Please remember I just report or interpret the law, so the outcome may not be what you hoped for. Since your itemized list of costs exceeded the security deposit, both the landlord, you, and the tenant can take action. You can sue the tenants for the damages that exceed the $3,000 to repair. The tenants can challenge your deductions. In either case the parties have to file a lawsuit. So long as there is nothing in your letter setting forth the itemized list, that waives your right to recover all the damages you suffered, you can take no action and see if the tenant chooses to pursue the matter. If he does you can counterclaim for the additional amounts you claim are due. I assume your lease does not permit the tenant to make any changes to the premises without your prior approval. Based on that assumption, things that they improperly repaired you are entitled to recover the actual cost of repairing the item to its original condition. As for depreciation, the first standard is the cost of repair. If it cannot be repaired but must be replaced, then you would have to use a depreciated value of the item. As I said above, you would be able to file a counterclaim in a small claims case. If I have answered all your questions, please positively rate my answer as that is how I receive credit. If you have more questions, please let me know. If the answer was especially helpful you can provide a bonus.
Expert:  Richard - Bizlaw replied 2 years ago.
If you have question do not hesitate to ask. There is no additional charge for follow up questions.