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Landlord overcharging for cleaning?

San Jose, CA |

i recently moved out of an apartment(California), our security deposit was $2990, the landlord wants to charge us $2800 in cleaning/damages. about $2000 for cleaning(he says he did it himself, no receipt. is it legal for a landlord to clean the place himself and charge us labor? he quoted about $60/hr) and 250 for carpet cleaning(no receipt). we cleaned the place when we moved out, upon inspection, he said that everything was not clean.(intially he quoted us about $1100-1400 to clean the place. Now he says he will be keeping $2800. i feel that it is fishy and wanted legal advice on how i can get my security deposit back. thanks

Attorney Answers 3


  1. you can take the landlord to court and if he does not have receipts he may have a problem. the amount charged also seems unreasonable and excessive.


  2. Sounds excessive. How long was your tenancy? The longer you lived there, the more "reasonable wear and tear" is expected.

    If the landlord refuses to refund the full deposit, you will have to sue in small claims court.

    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.

    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.

    The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author (who is only admitted to practice law in the State of California). For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.


  3. Hopefully you took photos before you left. Write the landlord a letter confirming no receipts and that he did the cleaning himself. Demand a refund of the deposit with a deadline. You need to make the demand before you file your small claims action. If he does not pay, file a small claims actionj.