I'm from San Jose, CA. My ordeal started around Feb. 2014 when my family and I moved out of apartment
that we were renting at the time. To make a long story short, the unit was in really bad shape when we moved in. We did an initial inspection with the manager and pointed out the different physical conditions that were already present in the unit. The the window blinds, worn down balcony sliding door screen, appliances,etc. The manager said that she was already aware of the existing issues in the units but everything was verbal, nothing was written down nor provided to us in writing. We paid the security deposit
with the first month's rent and signed the lease agreement.
Once we moved out, we cleaned the unit and washed the carpet. We asked her to come by and do a visual inspection in there was anything that we could fix. She told us that everything was ok and that if there was anything wrong that they would let us know.
A few days later, they sent us a bill for repairs that were done about 2-3 years prior to our move in along with a letter saying that we were to pay those charges or we would all be sent to collections. A family member spoke with the manager and disputed the charges as invalid, and mentioned the old receipts that they sent to us as proof that they were simply trying to charge us for damage that was already there before we moved in. Several days later, they sent us a bill with a recent date stating that we were being charged for painting the unit and for all the window blinds, screens,etc.
I wrote a certified mail letter disputing the validity of all these charges and demanding our security deposit be refunded in full. The letter was never claimed and it was sent back to me.
We did not hear back from them for over 2 years until recently, 3 weeks ago. All occupants received a collection notice with the charges plus interest.
The neighborhood is low income and the majority is Hispanic and I wouldn't be surprised that we are not the only ones who have been charged for something that was already broken. My sisters lived in the same complex, different unit, and they were also sent to collection like us. They also received bills for old repairs and later received new bills when they disputed the charges.
I want to know what I can do to protect my rights and fix this wrongful situation.