How do we know if we have enough evidence to sue our property management?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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How do we know if we have enough evidence to sue our property management?

We had a 2 year contract with a property management and fulfilled our lease and moved out at the end of it. We had the pre-move out inspection with only one issue which they told us at the pre-move out inspection they would not charge us for. Then 22 days after we moved out they sent us our statement with our entire deposit being taken. We have talked with the previous tenants who have the same exact experience. We have video of move in and move out and they have made up ridiculous charges about the carpets. They charged us for a clogged toilet that was serviced 2 weeks after we moved out and they had invoices that show other people were in the home in between that time. They charged us for fixing something that wasn’t properly done that we asked them to fix but they told us to do it, in fact the item was dangerous to our children and the refused to fix it or contact us about for over a month. They are charging us for a front door paint that we painted and the forged move in sheet even states it was chipped anyway. They charged us for so many other things that they knew but are now saying they didnt. The issue I feel we have is that the move in sheet isn’t very detailed, for example, the move in sheet says there were 2 closet doors off the hinges. We did take it upon ourselves to see what was wrong and it had to do with the wheels we rearranged the wheels so at least one closet door was working then we emailed about fixing the other and had no response so we left it and now they are charging to fix it. They also had an agreement with us at move in to remove all the owners property and they didn’t. They left behind curtains that got packed up with us and are now holding what little deposit is left until we return it or they will charge us to replace it. Lastly, tried to contact some businesses on the invoices because they seemed odd and very few have responded and the larger fees are the companies who haven’t responded. One company doesn’t appear to exist and the other has a wrong number and no way to contact. Property management also scratched out an amount on an invoice and wrote another amount next to and deducted that from our deposit as well. Is any of this substantial or what evidence do we need to provide for this to be worth our time and money or do we just move on?

Asked on March 28, 2019 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Based on what you write, you most likely have enough evidence to successfully sue the landlord for your deposit. A video showing the condition of the unit when you moved out is powerful evidence in my experience (I practice landlord-tenant law in NJ). That plus the irregularities on the invoices plus your own testimony should be sufficient for a security deposit return case.

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