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Attyadvisor, Attorney
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 6710
Experience:  29 years of experience in General Practice, Real Estate Law and Estate Law.
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I have a question on CA Security deposit refund law as reference

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I have a question on CA Security deposit refund law as reference here.

Today, is the 22nd day since move-out and I received a check for 8301 of my 15,000 deposit. They went crazy and charged me for everything, well over market value after thanking me for taking such great car of their home. I have received an itemized list of deductions, but no receipts. It's my belief they are either pocketing the money, or rolling it into improvements - ie. charging me for scratches on wood flooring that was already significantly sun damaged etc. Charged me for mechanical items that stopped working, holes that I never did etc.

Question - do I have any broad recourse because they did not provide receipts ? If not, what is my best path ?
Hello and thank you for your question. The landlord must send you receipts. You can only be charges for damages you caused and not ordinary wear and tear.

Have you responded back to the landlord disputing the amounts?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I plan on doing that today, via e-mail and registered mail.


Question, they have not sent receipts after 22 days now - as that's a violation am I entitled to the entire deposit ?


Here's the other issues:


> $1000 for wood floor scratches from furniture (all furniture had pads under it, the flooring was a soft walnut, and was significantly sun faded - I'm pretty sure they used my money to refinish them - home is 13 years old and I lived in it the last 2)


> charged me $350 for a bottom viking oven not baking - to me that is not damage, and is normal wear and tear. Tenant turns oven on, tenant turns oven off. If it breaks, landlord needs to be responsible.


> $800 to touch up paint. I had agreed to touchup nail holes as they had done before I moved in. This seems excessive - we stayed 25 months and the CA tenant web site recommends tenants not be held responsible for any painting after 24 months


> $720 for house cleaning - excessive again as I had it cleaned every two weeks and had the oven cleaned.


> $190 for a outdoor garage remote panel - the battery was corroded and it stopped working. Again, the is something breaking and not damage - they need to be responsible.


> a piece of stone "fell" off the outside bar surround due to being saturated with moisture - again, not damaged in any way, just broke


May biggest concern, and I know these people, is that they are taking my money and using it for improvements and not actually "fixing" anything. He's a general contractor so doubt highly, even if he hired people, he'd be able to provide receipts for this amount.

I can see why you are troubled by these charges.

He needed to send the receipts within the 21 days. This is a violation. He should be out of luck after the 21 days, however; under the law there is a next step. That being said, he will forfeit the money if he fails to respond to your request for invoices. This is when the 14-day period kicks in.

The courts have held that you would first request the receipts and if the landlord fails to do so the landlord loses the right to keep any of the security deposit and must return the entire deposit to you.

After making the request via certified mail return receipt requested (and email) if you do not receive the invoices or cannot come to an agreement within 14 days after the date you requested the documents, you can either contest the amount with third party assistance or sue the landlord in small claims court.

If no agreement ayes after you contest the amount you have the option of third party assistance (mediation)

OR file suit in small claims court for the return of your security deposit.

Wouldn't it be nice if landlords where required to have security deposits held by the court that would automatically be refunded if no receipts were provided within the 21-day period? Save us all so much hassle.

I hope that the information I provided has been helpful. Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have for me. It would be my pleasure to continue to assist you.

Thank you for using JA!

If you would be so kind as to rate my service I would be most appreciative.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.



Just so I'm understanding this clearly, they have 14 days to provide receipt of work performed during the original 21 day period, right ? They cannot have their contractor buddies write up receipts for work to be allegedly performed during the 14 day recourse period ?

Yes, they needed to have the receipts prior to requesting the repair amounts.
Attyadvisor and 4 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Thank you.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.



They responding to my request as I expected - claiming all sorts of additional damages and unwilling to refund any moneys.


Question - are they allowed to get estimates during the 14 day period ? That is what they are saying they are doing. Another week or so and the 14 day period will be over.

I am sorry to hear that your former landlord is causing you this grief. They needed to obtain the estimates within the 21 day period. You can file suit in small claims court against them and let the court know that you do not agree to the damages claimed or the charges.

If no agreement can be reached after you contest the amount you have the option of third party assistance (mediation)

OR file suit in small claims court for the return of your security deposit.

Please do not hesitate to ask me any additional questions that you may have with regard to this matter.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.



Last question, I hope.


During the follow-up 14 day period they replied with a list of receipts, some marked "estimate only" most not marked "paid". Some were alleged to have been completed during the first 21 day period, others within the 14 day period.


Do I have any recourse ? Unfortunately, I'll be moving to NJ next week and won't be here to pursue anything in small claims. Should I at least send them a "demand letter." They copied a tax attorney on their last reply so I can clearly see that they plan on not paying anything additional.


You can send a demand and file a complaint with the attorney general consumer protection division just to have a record of the situation.

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