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Lucy, Esq.
Lucy, Esq., Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 30382
Experience:  Attorney
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I rent rooms in my home. A girl came looked at the room and

Customer Question

I rent rooms in my home. A girl came looked at the room and gave a deposit. She told me she would be moving in in 3 days. Then she told me she wanted to clean the carpet herself after I told her I was going to have it cleaned. She changed her mind about moving in in 3 days and said it was going to be oct. I told her that wasn't our agreement but I allowed it bc I liked her. She said she wanted to wait to sign the rental agreement when she moved in with her husband. Then she started moving her stuff in, changed the locks on the bedroom door and started getting mail here. She called me at 10 pm telling me her husband got mad bc she said they would clean the carpet. I told her that she had not paid rent for this month and had locked the room and it needed to be unlocked and that I would clean the carpet, as I had stated before she moved her belongings in. And that in the future any calls to me needed to be done at a proper time and with the proper tone. I cleaned that carpet and then she came over with her sister and tried to intimidate me saying that she couldn't move in and wanted her deposit back. I told her that she had changed the locks on the door and locked the room and moved her stuff in and started getting mail here and needed to give me a 30 day notice. She blocked my drive way trying to keep me from leaving my home and I had to threaten to call 911. Then she filed a pay pal dispute saying that my home was filled with cockroaches, which is not true, I sent paypal pictures of my home and they closed the dispute in my favor. What are the rules and what do I have to give back according to the law? Thank you for your time and efforts
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.


I'm Lucy, and I'd be happy to answer your questions today. I'm sorry to hear that this happened.

A tenant does not have a legal right to change their mind about moving into a property one they agree to do so, because you relied upon that promise by not continuing to show the property to other people and holding it for her. This dispute about carpet cleaning is not a sufficient reason for her to change her mind and not move in, especially because she made it impossible for you to actually clean the carpets by locking you out of the room.

The rule is that when there's no written lease, the tenant must give 30 days written notice of intent to vacate. Without that notice, she's responsible for rent for 30 days or until you find a new tenant to move in, whichever is less. If you manage to find a new tenant to move in before the end of October, then you'd have to pro-rate the rent and give her a refund for the days you had someone else there. You are requires to make reasonable efforts to find someone else to move in.

Cal. Civ. Code, Section 1950.5 requires that you send her a written notice within 21 days of the day she leaves, explaining how much of her deposit is being withheld and why. You can actually charge her for the cost of getting a new key for the bedroom door if she doesn't leave you a key (or changing the locks back). That notice MUST be sent, even if she's not getting any money back. That's important, because when a landlord keeps a deposit in bad faith, the tenant can sue for three times the deposit plus attorney's fees. Not sending the notice is evidence of bad faith. You can try asking her to give you a forwarding address for the purposes of sending her a letter. If she refuses, then the letter is sent to the last known address. She'll hopefully have mail forwarded by then, but if she doesn't, keep the letter to prove you sent it. The judge can open the sealed letter in court if it gets that far.

If you have any questions or concerns about my response, please reply WITHOUT RATING. It's important that you are 100% satisfied with my courtesy and professionalism. Otherwise, please rate my service positively so I am paid for the time I spend answering questions. If you are on a mobile device, you may need to scroll to the right. There is no charge for follow-up questions. Thank you.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Can I mail it to her work, I do not have her home address, only mine where she is still getting mail
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I will definitely rate you high.
Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

What the statute says is "Any mailings to the tenant pursuant to this subdivision shall be sent to the address provided by the tenant. If the tenant does not provide an address, mailings pursuant to this subdivision shall be sent to the unit that has been vacated."

Since it sounds like she owes you more than the deposit, you can send a copy of her letter to her work and one to your house, if you want to be sure.

Expert:  Lucy, Esq. replied 2 years ago.

But if she gave you her work address as a place to send the deposit, yes, send the letter there.