Hello. I'm very interested to learn how to get the cleaning fee back from my last landlord. She returned certain amount of my security deposit back to me within 3 weeks after I moved out, but kept a certain amount as a cleaning fee. My lease doesn't state cleaning fee charges. I took a video and pictures of my apartment upon moving in, and pictures upon moving out. My building manager made an inspection upon moving in and I signed the papers stating everything was in order. The move out inspection was without a papers, just walk through. I did ask my building manager to text me that the apartment was in a good shape. She did. The pictures I took ( move in and move out) show the apartment being clean on both dates.I wrote an email to the building management after I received my partial security deposit back( I got a written invoice stating the cleaning fee for the amount the withheld). I attached some of the pictures showing my apartment being clean upon moving out ( I attached enough pictures to compare move in and move out cleanliness state), and I asked for the withheld fee to be returned on my forward address. The respond I got states they charge cleaning fee to everybody.
"Everyone gets charged a cleaning fee" is not a proper response nor a valid reason to deduct from your security deposit. 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.
If you do not receive your entire security deposit back within 21 days after you moved out, you can file your small claims lawsuit. 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.
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended nor should be construed as legal advice for any particular case or client. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney. This posting is not intended to constitute an advertisement nor a solicitation.
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