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barristerinky
barristerinky, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 36971
Experience:  Attorney over 16 years, landlord 26 years
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I live in Los Angeles and rented to a tenant who had a dog

Customer Question

I live in Los Angeles and rented to a tenant who had a dog and paid a pet deposit for that animal stating for that pet only. Without my knowledge she brought in a cat. Ididnt find this out until a week before she was moving. I never rent to anyone with a cat because I am asthmatic. I had to rip out all the carpet which had urine spots on it. I sent her back something less than half her dep back. She wants it all back and said I went over the 21 days since she vacated the unit on the 3rd of Sept. and the envelope was post marked the Sept 26. I mailed it on the 21 of Sept. which was a Sat. but it obviously didn't get postmarked unit Monday the 26th She says now she will sue me for 2x the sec. dep. if I don't immediately give her back all the security dep. because I went over the 21 days.
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?
Customer: Calif.
JA: What are the terms of the lease? Any issues related to maintenance or upkeep?
Customer: When I saw the place a week before she was moving. I brought potential tenants and or buyers and they didn't even want to walk in. It was so dirty with clothes and pots and pans in the sink overflowing.
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: She did clean up the place when she moved but the carpet had urine on it and she had incense all over the place which I still can't get out of the unit. The carpet was not brand new about 4 yrs old and had a small stain in the Living room which she said was ok since her couch would cover it. That I don't feel gives her the right to stain the rest of the carpet and fell that it is ok to do that. She never even bothered to clean it. The cabinet under the sink was broken and there was a refrigerator which was left unclean and the kit. sink was all scratched from misuse.
Submitted: 9 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney who will try my very best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I research statutes or ordinances and type out an answer or reply, but rest assured, I am working on your question.

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I may be wrong here, but looking at the calendar Sept 21 was a Wednesday..

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Unfortunately the law is crystal clear in CA that if the landlord doesn't send an itemized list of damages within 21 days of the tenant returning the keys, then the landlord is in default and loses the right to retain any of the deposit. CA Civil Code Section 1950.5(g)(1)

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Further, the law also gives them the right to sue for up to three times the deposit as damages for the breach. See CA Civil Code Section 1950.5(l).

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So I hate to say it, but you are on the wrong side of the law on this issue and your cheapest way out of this is to refund the entire deposit immediately.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I do have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 9 months ago.
21 days would be Sept 24th which falls on a Sat. I sent it out that day but since Sunday there is no mail and Sat. it probably got to the post office after hours. the 26th was the next day it could be post marked
Customer: replied 9 months ago.
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call. Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Expert:  barristerinky replied 9 months ago.

Yes, unfortunately you would have to have it actually postmarked on the 24th or earlier in order to meet that deadline. If it wasn't postmarked by then, you can't prove that you mailed it then as it could also have been mailed Sunday or even early Monday if it was postmarked on the 26th..

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I mean, you can ignore the tenant and see if they actually sue you, but if they do, I would opine that they will win.

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And for what it is worth, the courts apply a 5 year depreciation schedule to carpets so if the carpet was 4 years old at the beginning of the tenancy and it was a year long tenancy, then it would be 5 years old at the end and would be fully depreciated under the guide the judges use so you wouldn't have been able to charge anything for the carpet...

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I am sorry the news isn't better because I hate to see a fellow landlord get stung by a tenant...

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thanks

Barrister

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