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Ask LADYLAWYER Your Own Question
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 6536
Experience:  Civil; Family; HOA; Landlord/Tenant; Real Estate; Probate; Insurance; Immigration; Wills & Trusts
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hi,i have had very good luck with your i need you

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hi,i have had very good luck with your i need you again.we just moved to a new rental,and now our ex landlord has kept $1,021.20 out of out of our $3,000.00 deposit.i am just livid.we lived there for 2 yrs.. our daughter passed away in her bedroom there,and i just had to leave there.we gave him a written 30 day notice.i have a copy of it.when we moved ,my husband told him he would paint the whole inside of the house to assure the full return of our deposit.the landlord promised we would get husband and son-in-law worked for 10 days painting and cleaning thoroughly through out that house.when we moved in he promised us new carpet,but never did it.the paint literally peeled off the wall.we had 2 bathrooms.the front bathroom had so much calking all around the edges and was already a nasty brown color all around it.we could never turn the water off completely and he refused to fix it,and now he is trying to charge us.the water system was working ------i need more room?



I am so, so sorry to hear about your daughter. I represent tenants like yourself and would very much like to hear the rest of your story. Please just hit "reply" and keep typing. You may be filling out the "already tried" section with more info at this time, and so if you see this post after that, just give me a few minutes to get back to you. Thanks.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
my husband is 65 yrs. old and worked extremely hard on that home.also he never gave us a rental agreement.we never signed one.i want to take this to small claims .he charged us so much money .this is what he charged us for,bathroom,stove,hood,oven, fridge,kitchen sink below amt.$100.00-a door stop $4.30-hood screen $14.00-replace filter hoses,connectors $236.20-and after he gave my husband to paint he had the nerve to charge 10 days rent in the ammount of $666.70 .my husband even laid the kitchen floor and he was supposed to pay him ,but did not.we degreased and pressure washed the driveway and all cemented areas of back yd.we have exceelent rental history and have letters from other i have good grounds for suing in small claims?this is my question. thank you so much,kay dias

Hello Kay,


Yes, you certainly do. He is charging you for normal wear and tear on things and that is not allowed under the law. Additionally, from everything you mentioned, he would not be entitled to the monies he withheld on other things as well. It never ceases to amaze me what landlords think they can get away with. When you sue, your husband should charge the landlord for the labor on the painting. Technically, paint only has a life of 2-3 years, so what your husband did was probably unnecessary. However, because he did it and the landlord approved it, you should ask for the cost of the materials and labor. Same with the kitchen floor (materials and labor), and the pressure washing and cementing. I do believe you should sue and I definitely think you are going to be able to get money back on this. Do not forget to ask for the cost of having to bring the small claims action in the first place.


Also, one last thing--I was wondering when you got the letter from the landlord stating what he was going to withhold? He has to follow the statutes on time frames and such or you automatically get your deposit back. Similarly, you also have a certain time from to dispute what he claims to be withholding, so did you send him back a letter telling him you were disputing everything?


Please click ACCEPT so I can get credit for helping you. We can continue our conversation after this at no additional charge. Thanks!



LADYLAWYER and other Legal Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
i don't know what you mean about i can still talk with you at no extra charge.please explain



Of course, I will continue to help you until you are satisfied. What I was asking is the date that the landlord mailed you the letter saying he was withholding money from your security deposit. Also, I was wondering if you had written the landlord a letter telling him you disputed everything he was withholding money for.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
you said after i hit the accept button ,we could continue our discussion at no extra charge .did i miss understand?i would love to ask a few more questions if possible. i want to know what happens ,since he did not have us sign any rental agreement.he would always show up and walk through my house unannounced and ask to use my bathroom.he never made one complaint about it ok to cash this one check we got today?we need to pay our rent here,but i made copies of this check.we need groceries for my grandchildren .we are broke. thank you.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
you said after i hit the accept button ,we could continue our discussion at no extra charge .did i miss understand?i would love to ask a few more questions if possible. i want to know what happens ,since he did not have us sign any rental agreement.he would always show up and walk through my house unannounced and ask to use my bathroom.he never made one complaint about it ok to cash this one check we got today?we need to pay our rent here,but i made copies of this check.we need groceries for my grandchildren .we are broke. thank you.



Are you not getting my replies? Please see my additional posts at: . I am happy to keep helping you for as long as you need it.


The landlord cannot come over to your house unannounced. He has to give you 24 hours advanced notice unless it is an emergency. You could have called the cops and reported him for trespassing. However, even though you would have a cause of action for civil trespass and conversion at this point, your damages would not amount to anything. He would only be liable to you for the time he was in your place, which really doesn't amount to much. Still, it would be good to bring this up in your small claims action to show his abuse of power.


As far as the check, if you choose to cash it, you should write "Cashed under protest" under your signature. This tells the court that you are disputing the amount and are not waiving your right to the rest of the money by cashing it.


Also, please let me know if the landlord sent you a letter saying he was withholding your rent and when that letter was sent. Thank you.

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
i'm so sorry!he never notified us in any way until my husband picked up the check thru a third party.there was a paper showing what he had taken out for and that check was the date of notification was 02/28/09.we were not given any before notice.i had called him this morning and told him "please we need our money,manny"he said"i told don(my husband) he would get the money on monday."then he hung up on me.what about no rental agreement.i am so curious why he did not give us one.when asked about it he said"ah,we don't need one".what could the reason be?



Don't even worry about it! The sever is kind of slow tonight so I was wondering if my responses were not coming through.


Not having a rental agreement is not going to affect your case. While I never recommend not having a written rental agreement, right now, we are just concentrating on the return of your deposit. Since you have a paper stating what your landlord took out of your deposit and a check for the remaining balance, that is all you need to bring your case. I am sure he did not give you one because he thought that if you didn't have one, it would protect him more than you.


So when did you leave the rental property? On January 31st? Or are you saying that you stayed for an extra 10 days to complete the painting?


Also, are you saying he told you this morning that you are going to get the rest of your money back on Monday?


I hope you don't mind, but I am on the east coast and I am going to have to go to bed pretty soon. I will be online after church tomorrow and will answer all your follow-up questions then, if that's okay.


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
i am sorry for keeping you up.we were already moved out before the end of the month.the 10 days is what he is charging for the painting etc.please rest well can i talk to you tomorrow if not, it's ok .you have been wonderful.can i ask for all the time when i need to ask questions and of course pay? thank you and again god bless!



You are the sweetest customer I have had in quite some time. Please know that I am serious about following up with you tomorrow so you can have everything you need in order by Monday. You can always ask for me, and I will always be glad to help you. We will work on this issue together and I will help you all the way up until you get the rest of your money or until this is otherwise resolved! I am going to pull all the necessary CA statutes for you tomorrow and will post just as soon as I am back from church. God bless you too! You and your family will be in my prayers this week! :)

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
hi,there!did you get some good rest?hope so.i just want to ask where i would go to file ?where can i get papers to start this action.?can i download them from online?i want to get this done tomorrow.once he is served,does it take long to get a courtdate?i have been upset and sick all day over this jerk.i feel better there a place on here to write something good about my experience in talking with you and your great help! thank you,kay



You may end up having to pay for the extra 10 days you were there. Even though you were painting, the judge will likely determine that you would have had to pay for shelter somewhere, so I don't know you can get out of that. If the landlord specifically told you you didn't have to pay rent for that time, then that may be a different story. But if you charge him for the materials and time you spent painting, you can probably make that money back.


Right now, you need to send your landlord a letter telling him you are disputing EVERY SINGLE THING he tells you that you owe him for. You are REQUIRED to send him this letter within 15 days of receiving notice of what he is withholding or you CANNOT sue to recover anything. The statutes are very specific about this. Send the letter certified mail, return receipt requested.


Before you can sue him, you have to wait until your claim is ripe. To make your claim ripe, you need to wait at least 15 days after you send the letter to file your claim. That is because you have to give him a chance to return your money to you. If he does not, them you can sue.


You would go to your local courthouse to file. You will want to talk to the small claims division. You can call the courthouse and ask if they have the forms available online--I am not sure about that since every jurisdiction is different. Most of them don't have online forms, but you may get lucky!


Customer: replied 8 years ago.
i have wrote the letter to him and i am getting ready to to the post office to send them certified and a signature request as you instructed me to do.question:what do i do if he does not accept it or reply to my demand letter?i awas very polite in the letter.thank you so much.!!!



You can send a copy regular US Mail as well. If he does not accept the certified one, you did your part and will not be penalized. Just keep the letter when/if it comes back to you to show the judge that it was sent, as required, and you will be fine! I recommend sending one regular mail too though. Also, not sure if your letter is already sealed up, but above the landlord's name and address at the beginning of the letter, I would put "Sent via Certified and US Mail". We attorneys do that and it will just help to show the judge what you did.


Also, sorry for not getting back to you on Sunday, for some reason I thought you had said this landlord was going to be paying you back on Monday!



Customer: replied 8 years ago.
hi lady,you are right.the first time i talked to you i said that because,i had just talked to him on the for the last time on that saturday 02/28/09.then later in the evening,the same realty company from which we rented this new house,contacted my husband,don, to come pick up the deposit from her.apparently,he hired them to now manage 539 gaynfair terrace house husband went down there thinking we got all of our $ 3,000.00 back, but guess what? she says to my husband "just take the money, don't have a leg to stand on".we did not live in that house since at least 2 days before the 1st of feb.,09.she handed don the check in the amount of $1,978.80,but all this was after he already told don to go ahead and paint.he had used him until he was satisfied,then is not even man enough to do this exchange face to face.the check and his papers for us ,to tell us we've just been screwed! were in the same envelpoe.he made no request for keys.he knew what he did!
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
hi,i put in more money.ladylaw are you ok?.never answered my last areply.

Hi Kay,


I am good! I guess I just did not see a question in your last reply so I thought you were just making a comment. But none of the new info changes anything I said before. Did you get the letter off okay?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.
yes,i did.i sent them just like you said 1 certified w/signature request and one regular mail.i just got the confirmation card back today.someone signed,but it wasn't i am wating my 15 days to file.even if i lose ,i feeli have to do this.he has called us liars.ido not glad you are ok.
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
is that what i am supposed to do?you have been so good to me and lifted my spirits.i respect your expertise.and you.
thank you & god bless
Yes, Kay, that is great so far. And if he does not give you back what you believe he owes you then the next step is going down to your local courthouse and getting the documents to file a small claims action against him. You are right on track! :)