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MRM MRM is online now
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Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Palm Beach, Florida, USA
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I actually happen to know a bit of California landlord tenant law. Here's a good link to an overview.

California Tenants - California Department of Consumer Affairs

As everyone knows, the landlord can't deduct for regular cleaning or normal wear and tear. Most of the stuff they've itemized is pretty typical ordinary wear and tear. If you want I can look up some cases quickly to establish the standard for ordinary wear and tear. I'm sure there are some cases on point for drawing on walls, etc.

I can't tell whether the itemization issued by the landlord meets the requirements. If not, it isn't effective and you win on that procedural issue without even getting to the merits of the case. You should look into that more closely. If the itemization isn't effective he has no defense.

You should file a small claims court action and ask for all your money back. The next question is whether you can get additional damages if the landlord wrongfully withheld the security deposit. I am happy to report that the answer is yes. From the article in the link:

"If you prove to the court that the landlord acted in "bad faith" in refusing to return your security deposit, the court can order the landlord to pay you the amount of the improperly withheld deposit, plus up to twice the amount of the security deposit as a "bad faith" penalty. The court can award a bad faith penalty in addition to actual damages whenever the facts of the case warrant—even if the tenant has not requested the penalty."

A thousand bucks is a thousand bucks. No one is sitting around waiting to give you a thousand bucks, so it's probably worth your while to get it back. I'd say you'll win about $750 of it back and you should have a good argument that amount was kept back in bad faith because any landlord should have known it was an improper deduction. I'd argue that he deducted $1,000specifically because it was the most he thought he could get away with without being obviously in bad faith and it was little enough that you might not fight him. Frankly, I think the landlord withheld the amount as a deliberate strategy. But I'm cynical that way. Let me know if you'd like the cases.
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Old 05-14-2015, 01:22 PM
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