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I'm not exactly sure which of these categories this falls…

Hi, I'm not exactly...

Hi, I'm not exactly sure which of these categories this falls in. I recently moved out of a home in which I had been renting one room. The whole home is a rental property, but only 1 of the 4 tenants is on the lease- she sublets out the remaining rooms. When I moved in she told me there was no need to put me on the lease. I paid her a security deposit and monthly rent charges. I more recently learned that the management company was not OK with residents living in the home who were not on the lease, but still, I was not added. The tenant who was subletting the room to me is now attempting to withhold part of my security deposit for damages. I want to know what rights I have given that I don't have a lease and should not have been allowed to live there. She did not give me any notice of my right to request an initial inspection done before moving out (I only discovered this after moving out when she alerted me that there was cleaning required for which she intends to charge me).

Lawyer's Assistant: Because real estate law varies from place to place, can you tell me what state this is in?

California

Lawyer's Assistant: Has any paperwork been filed?

No, I am just looking into my options at this point.

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

She is trying to charge me for mold removal/clean up which she claims I caused. I do not see how that is possible and don't believe she can provide proof that I somehow caused it, so I don't believe I should be charged for this regardless.

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Answered in 2 minutes by:
3/8/2018
Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 42,555
Experience: 17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
Verified

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I am a licensed attorney and will try my best to help with your situation. There may be a slight delay in my responses as I type out an answer or reply.

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Did you cause the damages that she is trying to hold you liable for?

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How long ago did you move out and return the keys?

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Did the main tenant send you a written itemized list of any deductions/damages within 21 days of you moving?

.

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thanks

Barrister

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
She is trying to charge me for mold in my room. I don't believe I could have caused it. When the mold first surfaced (after we experienced abnormal heavy rains last spring), I alerted the main tenant who then alerted the management company. The management company sent someone out to clean it and also contracted a floor/carpeting company who pulled back the carpeting in several areas and found that it was very damp. They remarked that water seemed to have been seeping in under one of the windows for some time. They left fans on the affected areas for a couple days to dry it up then put the carpet back. The mold resurfaced shortly afterward and I alerted the main tenant. This time, she decided to clean it herself as it was raising suspicions with our management company that more people were living there than were on the lease. Again, it was not fully cleaned and I asked her to clean it more and treat it to prevent re-groowth but nothing else was ever done. It was minimal and I was very unaware of my rights at the time as a tenant, so rather than push it, I just left it and eventually decided to move. Now I have moved out and there is still mold in the room and the main tenant claims that I caused it, however I don't know how that could be or how it would be proved that it was my fault. She claimed that the management is not responsible for it because I caused it, yet the fact that they had previously come out to clean it clearly indicates that it is something they are responsible for. And as it came only after we got so much rain, I believe that caused significant spreading/growth of something that was already in the home long before I moved in. It is a very old house and has not been kept up very well.I moved out and returned the keys on 2/26, though my technical move out date was 2/28 based on the 30-day notice I provided of my intention to move.She has not provided an itemized list so far, but obviously still has time and I believe she plans on doing so.

Ok, unless you continually poured water on the floor, you didn't cause the mold...some defect in the property did..

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So she can't charge you anything for a property defect. She is your landlord and you are her tenant, so she has 21 days to send you a written itemized list of damages/deductions and any remainder of your deposit. If she doesn't, then she loses the right to keep anything AND you can sue her for 3X the deposit in small claims court under CA law.

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If she deducts improper charges, then you can sue her in small claims court and the burden is actually on her to prove the deductions were legitimate.

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As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...

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thanks

Barrister

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
OK, I am really hoping to talk to her now that I have a better understanding of my rights and am more confident, and resolve without having to escalate it. Just to clarify, as I have read up a bit on the Civil Code regarding security depost, does the fact that she did not inform me of my right to an initial inspection come into play here at all? Or can she still deduct any charges she wants? I had no knowledge at all of CA tenants laws prior to her indicating her intent to charge me for the mold damages, but definitely would have requested the inspection if I'd known I had that right. It states in the code that she is required to inform me of that right, so I'm wondering how that comes into play now.

does the fact that she did not inform me of my right to an initial inspection come into play here at all?

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You can argue that in court if you ended up suing her, but that typically wouldn't waive her rights to charge for legitimate things. The problem is that while the law says they have to give notice, it doesn't specifically state what happens if the landlord doesn't.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
OK, that would explain why I've been having such a hard time finding what the consequence of her not informing me would be. Thanks.So a sort of separate issue, but I believe it would play into the case here, is that there has not been working heat in the home since I moved in in August 2016. I was not informed prior to moving in that there was no working heat, and in fact discovered this in December when temperatures were down well into the 40s overnight and the main tenant was conveniently out of the country and unreachable. After several discussions, she talked with management about it and had them come out to look, but it will be a big repair because the house is so old and the current heating system is completely outdated. So she put off the repair and assured me that it would get taken care of by November before it got cold again (by the time it was looked at, we were well into spring so it was essentially a non-issue). I was OK with this solution, but made it very clear I was not OK with having no working heat in the winter. The heat still never got fixed. When I brought it up again and the fact that I knew enough to be aware that it's required by law to have working heat, she said it's not required if it's specified in the lease and that she thought it might be specified in her lease on the house (but wasn't sure).However, I don't even have a lease, was never informed of lack of working heat prior to moving in and made it clear that I was not OK with it. But again, I decided to find accomodations better suited to my needs rather than force the issue. Is she required to provide heat since myself and the other subletters do not have any sort of agreement to forego that right? And is there any action I can take in that regard now?
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Oh, and is there any implication of the fact that we did not do any sort of walk- through to document the condition of the residence at the time of my move-in? Or does that just make it more difficult to prove fault of damages?

Is she required to provide heat since myself and the other subletters do not have any sort of agreement to forego that right?

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Yes she has to provide a habitable dwelling and one with no heat is not habitable.

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And is there any action I can take in that regard now?

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No, the time to take action would have been when you were living there by having repairs made and deducting it from the rent..

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Oh, and is there any implication of the fact that we did not do any sort of walk- through to document the condition of the residence at the time of my move-in?

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No, that is not mandatory.

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Or does that just make it more difficult to prove fault of damages?

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Correct, she doesn't have a list or any record of how it was before you moved in, so you can claim everything was pre existing.

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It was my pleasure to work with you and help with your question. If you ever need me in the future, you can post a new question with "For Barrister" in the title and the JustAnswer employees will get it to me.

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If you feel I have answered all your questions, I would very much appreciate a 5 star rating by clicking on the rating scale on your screen as that is the only way I receive credit for my work.

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Thanks much

Barrister

Barrister
Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 42,555
Experience: 17 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
Verified
Barrister and 87 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Ask your own question now
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Great, thank you so much!!

Thank you very much for the positive rating and generous bonus, it is greatly appreciated!

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thank you for your help! I don't know if you saw my review, but my landlord backed off and agreed to return my full deposit when I told her that I'd consulted with a lawyer and was prepared to take it to court if she proceeded with the unfair charges.

Happy to help any time... and that is great news... I always like to hear the follow ups when I was able to help get a great result without actual legal action..

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DISCLAIMER: Answers from Experts on JustAnswer are not substitutes for the advice of an attorney. JustAnswer is a public forum and questions and responses are not private or confidential or protected by the attorney-client privilege. The Expert above is not your attorney, and the response above is not legal advice. You should not read this response to propose specific action or address specific circumstances, but only to give you a sense of general principles of law that might affect the situation you describe. Application of these general principles to particular circumstances must be done by a lawyer who has spoken with you in confidence, learned all relevant information, and explored various options. Before acting on these general principles, you should hire a lawyer licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction to which your question pertains.

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