Can landlord charge $200 in cleaning fees even if the place was left clean?

Asked almost 2 years ago - North Hollywood, CA

I was living in a 2 bdrm apt for 3 yrs. Due to financial restraints, I needed to downsize. to a 1 bdrm. They rolled over my security deposit to the new place but are deducting $200 for cleaning. I lived in the 2 bdrm for just over 3 yrs. and left the place cleaned and undamaged. I even paid someone to clean it because I was busy with everything else. I feel $200 is excessive. I don't think they should charge me since I resided for more than 3 yrs. especially since I left it clean & with absolutely nothing left behind. The only thing was the carpet that showed quite the wear and tear but I was told I wasn't going to be charged for the carpet (which they didn't) because they were going to be putting down hardwood flooring for the new tenants. I'm awaiting to talk with the management company

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Thomas Anthony Schaeffer

    Contributor Level 14


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . They should have provided you with an itemized list of the repairs/cleaning that they had to do. $200 is pretty standard for a cleaning, but if you turned it over cleaned then they should not have kept that portion. In the end it may all depend on if you want to make waves with your property managers...

    Thomas A. Schaeffer, Esq. Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216, San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 www.... more
  2. Frank Wei-Hong Chen

    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Best Answer
    chosen by asker

    Answered . The $200 cleaning fee seems excessive based upon your description of the facts. Since you are still a tenant in another unit, hopefully, you will be able to talk to the management company about this.

    Under California Civil Code section 1950.5, within 21 calendar days after a tenant moves out, the landlord must either send a full refund of the security deposit, or mail or personally deliver to the tenant an itemized statement that lists the amounts of any deductions from the security deposit and the reasons for the deductions, together with a refund of any amounts not deducted.

    Pursuant to Civil Code section 1950.5, the landlord may only use the tenant's security deposit for four purposes:

    1) For unpaid rent;

    2) For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out (but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in);

    3) For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant's guests; and

    4) If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property other than because of normal wear and tear.

    A tenant who does not receive a return of the security deposit from the landlord will often need to sue the landlord in small claims court to get the security deposit back. However, the risk is that the landlord will likely countersue the tenant for damages above and beyond what the security deposit covered.

    According to the California Supreme Court decision in the case of Granberry v. Islay Investments (1995) 9 Cal.4th 738, 745, after the 21 days have transpired, the landlord loses the right to keep any of the security deposit and must return the entire deposit to the tenant.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is... more
  3. Erin Patricia Farley

    Contributor Level 15


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . My colleague's advice is excellent. Your good relationship with your landlord is worth its weight in gold. You are entitled to an itemized list of charges, and you can certainly try and talk to them about reducing the charge.

    Landlords often automatically have a cleaning service come in to clean - I haven't seen a successful dispute of the service. In the end, if you wanted to fight the charge you would have to prepare a claim, pay to file in small claims, take a day off work to show up to a hearing... it's just not worth it for you.

Related Topics

Landlord-tenant law

Landlord-tenant law is governed mostly by state laws, and covers issues like security deposit limits and deadlines, evictions, and the right to withhold rent.

Renting property

Rentals are houses, apartments, or similar where the resident pays the building's owner for the right to live there, usually under the terms of a written lease.

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