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RealEstateAnswer, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 27626
Experience:  10+ years in handling Leases, Landlord-Tenant, Foreclosures,Mortgages, and Eviction cases
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I had a 1 yr lease and asked to get out of the lease early.

Customer Question

I had a 1 yr lease and asked to get out of the lease early. Landlord agreed to let me out of my 1 yr lease if it gets rented out. He used his Real Estate Agent to get it rented out and did not give me the opportunity to use my own agent. I have rented a place and lived in there for 5mos. I have kept the place in an imaculate condition. The exit walk with my landlord indicated that there were minor scratches, scuff marks on the walls, a mark on the carpet, 1 small hole on the wall made by the movers, and the house needed to be cleaned. He also charged me $1700 for real estate commission to get it rerented. The landlord charged me a total of $2800 to fix up the place and agent commission to get it rerented and deducted it from my $3500 deposit.
JA: OK. To minimize me, please click the down arrow at the top right corner of this box.
Customer: He did not provide to me the itemized cost of repairs within the 21days. He just emailed to me the list when the work was completed. I did not get a chance to get my own people to get it fixed up at a reasonable costs.
JA: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?
Customer: Aliso Viejo, Ca
JA: Has any paperwork been filed?
Customer: No not yet. I want to see what my options are before I take him out to court- maybe small claims court?
JA: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?
Customer: no
Submitted: 4 months ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.

Hi! I will be the professional that will be helping you today. I look forward to providing you with information to help with your question and concern

Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.

Good afternoon and please allow me a moment

Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.

As you are aware, under California law, 21 calendar days or less after you move, your landlord must either:

  • Send you a full refund of your security deposit, or
  • Mail or personally deliver to you an itemized statement that lists the amounts of any deductions from your security deposit and the reasons for the deductions, together with a refund of any amounts not deducted.

The landlord also must send you copies of receipts for the charges that the landlord incurred to repair or clean the rental unit and that the landlord deducted from your security deposit. The landlord must include the receipts with the itemized statement. The landlord must follow these rules:

  • If the landlord or the landlord's employees did the work - The itemized statement must describe the work performed, including the time spent and the hourly rate charged. The hourly rate must be reasonable.
  • If another person or business did the work - The landlord must provide you copies of the person's or business' invoice or receipt. The landlord must provide the person's or business' name, address, and telephone number on the invoice or receipt, or in the itemized statement.
  • If the landlord deducted for materials or supplies - The landlord must provide you a copy of the invoice or receipt. If the item used to repair or clean the unit is something that the landlord purchases regularly or in bulk, the landlord must reasonably document the item's cost (for example, by an invoice, a receipt or a vendor's price list)
  • If the landlord made a good faith estimate of charges - The landlord is allowed to make a good faith estimate of charges and include the estimate in the itemized statement in two situations: (1) the repair is being done by the landlord or an employee and cannot reasonably be completed within the 21 days, or (2) services or materials are being supplied by another person or business and the landlord does not have the invoice or receipt within the 21 days. In either situation, the landlord may deduct the estimated amount from your security deposit. In situation (2), the landlord must include the name, address and telephone number of the person or business that is supplying the services or materials.
    Within 14 calendar days after completing the repairs or receiving the invoice or receipt, the landlord must mail or deliver to you a correct itemized statement, the invoices and receipts described above, and any refund to which you are entitled

If you cannot successfully work out the problem with your landlord, you can file a lawsuit in small claims court for the amount of the security deposit plus court costs, and possibly also a penalty and interest, up to a maximum of $10,000 . If you prove to the court that the landlord acted in "bad faith" in refusing to return your security deposit, the court can order the landlord to pay you the amount of the improperly withheld deposit, plus up to twice the amount of the security deposit as a "bad faith" penalty.

Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Thank you. What about the Real Estate Agent commission? He used his RE Agent to relist it and did not give me the opportunity to get my own agent in to rent out the place. He did not provide to me any document that he is paying an agent - he charged me $1700 for agent commission. Am I obligated to pay the full commission and do i have the right to recieve documentation for the commission paid?
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.
It should have been discussed ahead of time as a condition to being released. Normally you would be liable to pay this as it was a cost incurred to find a new tenant but if they simply released you and did mention this you could have an argument to make.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Landlord did tell me that he has called his agent to get it released however assumed that I agreed to pay for commission. I worked with his agent by cooperating with allowing her to show the place so that the landlord would agree to let me out of my one year lease. We never discussed commission to be paid to his agent nor anything pertaining to how the costs will be allocated. Does he need to provide to me the listing agreement with the commission amount paid to the agent? Do I have a case here?
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.
To be honest, the fact that he was letting you out of your lease early should be something that does not happen often and he could have refused and held you to the lease term. Only asking that you pay the fee is very reasonable. Should this have been discussed and mentioned as a condition to being released ? Yes. If it was not you could argue that he just let you walk away
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Does he need to provide listing agreement to show he paid for commission? He charged me $1700 in which is should be $1650 (2.5% of 1yr lease as stated in MLS).Is there a time period of when I need to submit a small claim to the court in regards ***** ***** dispute/matter?
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.
I would ask for it and proof of commission paid. There is nothing wrong with asking for it. As far as you suing him do it sooner then later, since you do not want the statute of limitations to run. You do have time but no point in waiting.
Customer: replied 4 months ago.
Do you have the information of where i can file for the small claim n court?
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.
You would need to file in the county where the property was located. The clerk of court for small claims court would have the forms for you to fill out and file
Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.

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Expert:  RealEstateAnswer replied 4 months ago.

I just wanted to follow up and see if you had any other questions or needed me to clarify something. I am here to help, so please let me know. Thanks!