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Landlord taking Tenant to Small Claims court for damages plus 14 days from Loss of Rental Income. Can this be argued and won?

La Jolla, CA |

Tenants denying all damages. Consonantly threatening lawsuits even before 21 day notice was given. Landlords tried to mitigate damages and losses above deposit amount. However, ultimately damaged item must be fully replaced, cannot be corrected back to rent-able condition.

If Tenants were upfront about damages Landlord could have taken swifter action to replace damaged item right away instead of incremental steps to mitigate damages.

How would this be argued to the court and could this Loss Of Rental Income be awarded to landlord?

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Attorney answers 3


Truth be told, you didn't post much info other than something was damaged and LL was not notified.

You did not indicate what the LL did with the security deposit, whether the damages were properly documented and invoiced in writing to the tenant within the proper timeline as outlined in CA statutes. The situation you describe is exactly the kind of scenario a secruity deposit is designed to cover and I suspect the court will take that perspective (FYI, I am NOT a CA attorney).

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as to the security deposit accounting, please see the guide at
As to loss of rental income, not so much. It takes time to put a unit back into rentable condition. That's part of the cost of being a landlord and most judges with whom I have dealt will not award speculative damages like that.

A proper response would require a thorough investigation into the history and background of this relationship. The information provided above is just that, information, to be used as you see fit.


Ok. If you are the landlord (LL) and suing the tenant for damages, make sure that you can backup the claim that your property was damaged (photos, receipts, invoices, etc.) Also, make sure that theses were provided to the tenants (T) within 21 days of them vacating. If not, then you MUST return all of the deposit and sue to collect all of the damages.

Now, if you are the T, then make sure that you left the property in good condition and have photos to prove condition upon leaving. If you hired a professional cleaning crew or carpet cleaner, make sure you bring these receipts. If you had problems during the tenancy, make sure you bring the letters that establish that the garbage disposal broke, or the garage door had not worked since you moved in, or whatever; of course making sure that the information you bring matches what the LL is claiming.

If mitigation of damages is an issue, then clearly the T will need to argue that they did not mitigate. Vice-versa, the T did their best to mitigate the damages. Further, if there were damages DURING the tenancy, and it is normal wear-and-tear, then the landlord is obligated to fix the problem and NOT charge you for it.

As for loss of income, the property would need to be so damaged that is was off the market for several months due to the damages before a judge would allow these kinds of damages.

If you have further questions, be sure to speak with a lawyer that knows about Small Claims.

-Adam Jaffe Law Office of Adam Jay Jaffe PO Box 2437 Camarillo, CA 93011-2437 (805) 504-2223 This posting is provided for “information purposes” only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice". Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principles discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different states.