Return of security deposit for wear and tear?

i recently moved out of a three bedroom house i'd rented for the past two years. for our returned security deposit we received only $600 of our original $2750 deposit and my question is on the validity of the following: $350 to reseed and repair the lawn (it had died due to summer water restrictions, our landlord hired a gardener who did a horrible job--which i'd repeatedly told her about over our residency) $1000 to buff and finish the entire hardwood living room floor (there were 2 scratches she said were our fault, which we deny) $500 bleach scrub/acid wash of both the kitchen laminate floor and bathroom grout - over time both naturally stained even though we kept them as clean as possible while living there should we be charged for such excessive cleaning and repairs?

Los Angeles, CA -

Attorney Answers (2)

Ann Penners Bergen

Ann Penners Bergen

Business Attorney - Pasadena, CA
Answered

No, a landlord can only deduct for extraordinary repairs, not ordinary wear and tear. Also, you have a right to an inspection BEFORE you move out, so the landlord can identify problems and give you the right to fix them.

Given the dollar amount, you could (and, in fact, your only resources is there) bring a small claims action.

Legal Disclaimer: You should remember that this answer does not constitute legal advice, and should not be relied on. This is because each state has different laws and each situation is fact specific. That is why a lawyer can't evaluate a legal problem without a consultation and a chance to review every fact and document at issue.

Also, this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship between us.

Kenny Kean Tan

Kenny Kean Tan

Real Estate Attorney - Pomona, CA
Answered

Landlords have to live with normal wears and tears of the rental unit. Security deposit is tenant's money. The law permits security deposit to be made part of the lease to protect landlords against excessive wears and tears.

1. $350 to reseed and repair the lawn. This may or may not be chargeable to the tenants. If the reason for it has to do with the neglect of the gardener. Then this charge is not permitted. It's a question of whether you damaged it. You should look it the lease to see if it is your responsibility to maintain the lawn. If it is, then there may an issue.
2. $1,000 to rebuff the and finish the hardwood floor. It they are not deep scratches, I would say the finishing should not be chargeable against the security deposit.
3. $500 bleach scrub/acid wash of kitchen laminate floor and bathroom grout. I would say that's normal wear and tear.

It sounds like they can all be challenged.

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