Security Deposit Refund and additional money

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Security Deposit Refund and additional money

We moved out of our house on 02/24. We paid to have the carpets and house professionally cleaned upon move out. We did the final walk-through about 02/28. We did not receive the check from our landlord until 03/28. We cashed it a few days later. On 03/30 we got another email stating that apparently now there is a pet odor in our old home that the landlord is now requesting that we pay for. Is this legal after we already paid for the professional services and they already signed the security deposit refund form with the details of what all additional fees they took out?

Asked on April 7, 2018 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It is legal in the sense that sometimes, damage or other issues are only discoved later and when they are, the landlord is allowed to pursue them. Signing the security deposit form, etc. does not prevent the landlord seeking reimbursement or compensation for a later-discovered problem.
But if you refuse to pay voluntarily, the landlord would have to sue you if he wants the money. And to get it, he'd have to prove in court, by a "preponderance of the evidence" (or that it is "more likely than not") that you caused the pet odor. If he can't do that, he can't win; and he may choose to not do this, given what he is seeking back vs. the time and cost of litigation.

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