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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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There. I am looking on how to handle the absurd

Customer Question

Hi there. I am looking for advise on how to handle the absurd letter my former landlords sent me with my drastically reduced deposit refund.
When I moved into the house in June 2012, I was charged first, last, and deposit. The house is located in San Diego. My final deposit letter arrived 33 days after my lease expiration and it states the following:
Last month's rent ($1625) + security deposit ($1500):
$3125.00 = March Rent ($1925x21/31 - 2016)
Balance: $1820.97
Late charges: March 2012 - Rcvd 6th ($70) + January 2012 - Rcvd 4th ($50) + October 2011 - Rcvd 4th ($50) + December 2011 - Rcvd 6th ($70) = $240.00
-Please notice that I didn't even live in their house until June 2012.-
Balance: $1580.97
Lawn - $150
Front Stairs & Sidewalks - $25
Floors & Ceiling Fans - $150
Windows & Screens - $150
Bathroom - $75
Refrigerator, Oven, and Kitchen - $100 of $175
Balance: $930.97
As you can see, there in no details or receipts explaining the charges and the dates are above are before I even lived there. Please advise me on the best way to handle these people in the most timely manner.
Melissa Jumper
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
Dear Customer,I am sorry to learn of this situation.There are 2 potential courses of action (really 3) that you can take here. Which one you decide to take really depends on how much time you are willing to invest in this.Least aggressive approach: write back a letter noting that the itemized letter is deficient, the demand clearly asks for damages that are outside of the time of the tenancy, and that you expect a refund in full within 10 days of the date of the letter. (You can use this link to the California Attorney General's article on security deposits and damage claims to give you citations to include if you believe that will make your letter more powerful: of filing a lawsuit, you can try to mediate the dispute with them - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.Finally, the most aggressive option (but really it isn't that hard to do), is to file a small claims lawsuit against the landlord for a wrongful withholding of your security deposit. This can take about 2-4 months from the date of filing, but the California Court website walks you through the process and has all of the forms you need to complete the process (most landlords will be willing to settle once they receive the demand letter, and if they do not, once you serve them with the complaint they are more compliant). See:

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