What to do if my I was charged from my security deposit for cleaning and painting after living there for 3 years and leaving the unit clean with normal wear and tear?

UPDATED: Dec 2, 2011

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What to do if my I was charged from my security deposit for cleaning and painting after living there for 3 years and leaving the unit clean with normal wear and tear?

I was deducted $48 for a general cleaning fee, $24 for carpet cleaning and $106 for painting from my security deposit. My understanding is that these fees are illegal if I returned the apartment in clean condition and any changes to the unit were within the normal wear and tear of having lived there for 3 years. Unfortunately, I have closely reviewed my lease and these fees were actually written in the contract which I signed. Do I have any recourse or case?

Asked on December 2, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

If those fees are spelled out in the written lease agreement that you signed for your former rental, then the landlord was contractually able to charge you those fees assuming they were warranted and debit them from your security deposit.

The issue is were they? Did the landlord send you invoices and receipts showing what was actually debited in terms of dollars and cents from your security deposit?

If not, I would write your former landlord a detailed letter setting forth your position and request the return of your unpaid security deposit by a certain date. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference and need. If not paid within the time requested, your option is small claims court.

Note, painting of a unit is typically normal wear and tear if there was no damage to the walls which the landlord typically absorbs as a cost of doing business.

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