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We found more damage after the final walk through, can we charge the tenant for it? what can we charge?

San Francisco, CA |

After the final walk through and the carpet is cleaned, we realize that those stains on the carpet is not stain, it is burns. We phone the tenant right away the same day of the walk through and told her that we have to replace the carpet due to the damage, and she said get an estimate first and don't do anything yet. After I got the estimate and gave her the itemized deduction form and the estimate. She claiming that there was no mention of replacing the carpets during the final walk through. Because the carpet have burn marks in the living room and it is all connected to the dinning area; thus, I got estimate for both area and then charge the remaining life of the old carpet. Is this proper? The tenant only want to pay the burn repair, can you repair a burned carpet?

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Best Answer

The general rule is yes, you can still charge a former tenant for additional damages discovered after the final walkthrough, provided you otherwise comply with Civil Code section 1950.5. However, the amount that you can charge may be somewhat limited. First of all, repair might be possible. (You'll need to consult with a flooring/carpet contractor.) Even if not, the typical method of calculating the deduction for replacement prorates the total cost of replacement so that the tenant pays only for the remaining useful life of the carpet that the tenant has damaged or destroyed.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


You should check with a flooring contractor to make sure it is your property. Under California law within 21 days landlord should provide a list of repairs caused by tenant ( not wear and tear ) and return of remaining security deposit if any. You should have had a prep move in inspection which outlines the condition of the premises as well as a move out inspection. The fact that burn vs stain was discovered later than the move out inspection is not so much an issue than the timely report and counting and demand for additional costs under the 21 day mandate.
You can file small claim action if damages caused by tenant and not enough security deposit to cover. Good luck.

In addition to AVVO's disclaimer, please note that by this answer no attorney client relationship is intended and unless there is a signed retainer agreement in place, neither me nor anyone in our office has intended to solicit clients. The answers are general in nature and without weighing specifics of particular query. No answer should be relied on in whole or in part, directly or otherwise to act or not to act in pursue of any of your potential claims in law or equity. You should consult with and obtain advise or representation of an attorney to protect your rights.

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