I recently moved out after my lease ended on an apartment(located in a 4 unit building). I left the apartment very clean and now the landlord wants to keep a part of my deposit for a repainting and cleaning fee. However, when I had moved in to the apartment initially, I had taken pictures of the apartment and I had left it in the same condition as when I had moved in. Are they able to keep part of my deposit for this? In addition to that, I had found out(while living there) that the tenant downstairs was forced to temporarily move out due to mold in the walls(the same walls that are shared with my apartment). The property management company I was leasing the apartment from failed to bring this to my attention. Is that something that they can be held liable for(not letting me know of the possible health risk)? I am almost certain the mold from downstairs had spread into the walls of my apartment.
Regarding the security deposit.
The law states that you must return the apartment in the same condition as you rented it, "reasonable wear and tear excepted".
If you have photos of the before and after, and they are substantially the same, you should get all of your deposit back.
The landlord cannot have any part of the security as a non-refundable fee, but usually a landlord is permitted to hire a professional cleaning company for up to $125, show receipts and that is usually acceptable, but anything more than that has to be because of some damage or beyond reasonable wear and tear.
I don't think you have a claim on the mold unless you have actual medical issues and bills to prove it. If you get sick within a reasonable time (which I hope never happens), then you can revisit this. So are you sick now?
This is general legal advice intended for informational purposes only and does not create and attorney/client relationship. If you wish further advice, please contact an attorney of your own choosing or you may contact me for further advice and make other arrangements including retaining my services.
If the apartment is in the exact same condition it was before you moved in and you cleaned it, they cannot take anything from the deposit. You can sue them for it in small claims court if they do not return it in full.
In addition, based on the facts, it’s unclear whether the landlord properly notified you of your option to: 1) request an initial inspection (and right to be present); and 2) remedy the alleged repainting and cleaning defects (prior to having each defect deducted from the security deposit).
In relevant part, according to California Civil Code § 1950.5(f)(1), “Within a reasonable time after notification of either party’s intention to terminate the tenancy, or before the end of the lease term, the landlord shall notify the tenant in writing of his or her option to request an initial inspection and of his or her right to be present at the inspection.”
The statute further states, “The purpose of the initial inspection shall be to allow the tenant an opportunity to remedy identified deficiencies…in order to avoid deductions from the security.”
This answer does not constitute legal advice. This answer does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
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