February 06, 2004

I Wanna KILL (Grr...)

Anybody out there have experience with landlord-tenant law? Or with taking your ex-landlord to small claims court?

Remember my landlord story from a few days ago? Well, I got his final reckoning of costs via E-mail this morning ...

Kevin, the summary is as follows

Painting spots on walls, doors, fixing window screen living room, fixing
kitchen door, etc = 250
Dry cleaning 4 curtains living room and dining room = 204
Alma as per your note below (incl. washing anther 4 curtains which don't
need dry clean) = 120
Gardener as per your note below = 80
Replacing carpet (there are stains and dirty areas even after your
machine cleaning which can not be removed) = 1,750
TOTAL = 2,404
Minus Rent pay back 3 days in Jan = 184


Your deposit is 1899, therefore there is a deficit of 321, which I am ok
not claiming

There is also sprint mail. Let me know if you want me to open or send
somewhere to you.
I hope you are settling in Hamburg well

I'm so mad I can hardly speak. To begin with, our deposit was $3798, not $1899. Thankfully, this is clearly noted in our original contract, and I brought my copy with me to Germany. And if he wasn't totally profiteering, and we really owed him $321, would he be "ok not claiming" that?

It seems that we're pretty much screwed (beyond his obvious "mistake" in the amount of our initial deposit), as we didn't document the condition of the carpet on our initial move-in walkthrough. Nor, unfortunately, did we discuss the condition of the carpet at move-out -- we did our final walkthrough with the understanding that the last thing I'd do before moving out would be to steam-clean the carpet. It wasn't completely pristine when we left, but it wasn't completely pristine when we moved in, either -- the carpet in one room had areas with a noticeable yellow tinge, and the entire carpet was wet from being steam-cleaned on the morning of the day we moved in.

As God is my witness, I'll never rent again!

Posted by at February 6, 2004 01:46 PM

Kevin, you might check out this link:
If it doesn't work, go to www.renterswoescentral.com and look around. This gives you a list of Housing Organizations that may be able to help you. I know that, at least in Los Angeles, mediation is an option outside of court that will allow you to have a third party evaluate the amount he is charging you (which is OUTRAGEOUS). I tried mediation with a landlord though, and all they had to do was never sign for the certified letter they were sent and the mediation fell through. If nothing else, at least post a warning at this site about that landlord. Good luck! I feel your pain.

Posted by: Sherri at February 11, 2004 05:01 AM

A new state law (SB 2330, which went into effect January 1, 2003, mandates that a landlord notify a tenant of the option of having an initial inspection two weeks before terminating a premises in order to identify problems (and possible deductions from the security deposit) and be given a chance to rectify them and avoid the deduction.

A practical example of this: Tenant Juan gives landlord Jill a 30-day notice that he is leaving March 1. Within a reasonable time after receiving the notice, Jill should contact Juan in writing and schedule an initial inspection at which Juan can be present. If Juan agrees, the inspection happens (no earlier than two weeks before the end of the tenancy and with a 48-hour notice) and Jill gives Juan an itemized list of what problems exist. Juan then has time to fix the problems and avoid deductions.

Also, if it goes so far...
If your deposit is not returned to you within 21 days, if you do not agree with the amount that has been withheld, or if your landlord has not paid you interest: Send a letter to your landlord requesting the money and refer to the security deposit law California Civil Code 1950.5. (San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 49 for non-payment of interest). Keep a copy of all correspondence. If your landlord does not respond within a reasonable time, you can sue in Small Claims Court. Small Claims Court is informal and no lawyers are allowed. You and your landlord will both have an opportunity to tell your story. Therefore, prepare all written documentation, inspection reports, rental agreements, receipts for deposits paid, and photos which will help prove your case.You can sue your landlord for the deposit plus $600 for punitive damages (California Civil Code 1950.5 (k). In certain circumstances, the court can now award up to twice the amount of deposit for bad-faith retention of the deposit. The maximum you can sue for in Small Claims Court is $5,000. For more information call Small Claims Court hotline at (415) 291-2124.
Note that in the State of California, Landlords are technically required to pay interest on money that is held....something to consider when calculating what your deposit really is.

Posted by: Sherri at February 11, 2004 05:24 AM

I live in california and my mother went to small claims court and lost as a renter even though we had alot of evidence .Let me tell you what happend first we lived at the same house for 4 yrs. then this landlord says the day we're moving out after we cleaned the whole house that we never gave him a deposit .so since we have two different recipts and pictures we took him to small claims then he showed the judge pictures of our house completly trashed saying thats how we left it and even though you aren't supposed to have any kind of legal representation he had a legal adviser there with him and said he was a translator because he didn't speak english so the judge let it slide and then said that even though he kept the deposit in bad faith the judge said he didn't have to pay us and we didn't have to pay him.now we are fileing to vacate the judgement so I was wondering if you have any advice on how to fill it out.

Posted by: celi at June 3, 2004 11:37 PM

I'm also going to small claims court. We also live in CA and our ex-landlord has taken so many deductions that our final return was going to be $147.00. Well, he currently holding a deposit of just under $700. PLUS, we sold him the chain link fence (we had to buy and put in ourselves) and he's crediting us $100. for the excess water bill due to a broken pipe. Now, we've lived in this house for 10 years! Lived with leaks in the roof (had to buy tarps to cover roof during rainy season). We sent letters about the leaks over the years and when we decided to leave, he decided to fix it! Now, all of the deductions are items that WE took care, he didn't do a walk through as required. I responded to his itemized deductions, (certified mail) he wouldn't sign for it.
Bottom line is I tried to settle this several ways, finally going to the District Attorney's office to try Mediation, he responded with a revised document totally $427. due back to us. Well, I decided to file a claim, the day he was served he decided to coutersue - He's now going to try to countersue me claiming that we owe him a total of $1078.00 and I have NO idea where he's pulling that figure out of. If he's already submitted an itemized list of deductions, can he just decide to change it? HELP

Posted by: becky at July 1, 2004 06:21 AM
Sadly, Further Comments Have Been Disabled ...

Due to a never-ending flood of comment spam, we've decided to disable comments for all blog entries past a certain age. If you'd like to comment on a closed blog entry, say something in one of the newer entries or E-mail the author.

-- Apologies, The happybeagle.com Management