What can my CA landlord legally take out of my security deposit?

Hi All!

I am moving out this week and the landlord mentioned that they will subtract about $200-$250 for cleaning the carpet and touching up the paint. I thought that sounded drastic considering the deposit is only $750 and the apartment is in good shape.

Somebody told me that a landlord is not legally allowed to deduct from the deposit for normal wear and tear (in California), but I wanted an answer with somebody who has knowledge on this subject (and I can't find an answer through Google).

Please help!

5 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The CA Department of Consumer's affairs has an excellent book summarizing tenant and landlord rights on their website (http://www.dca.ca.gov/legal/landlordbook/).

    The landlord is only allowed to deduct the actual charge of any cleaning/repairs and upon your request must provide receipts for that work.

    You're allowed to have a walk-through of the property, where the landlord will notify you of all the items that would be charges when you move out, and while you're still the tenant you have the option to cure those items yourself.

    Another question would be were the carpets professionally cleaned and the unit freshly painted when you moved in? Per CA Civil Code 1950.5(b)(3) the landlord can only charge to restore the cleanliness to the same condition as when you moved in.

    Normal wear & tear DOES include moderate dirt & spotting and a landlord cannot as an arbitrary matter of policy charge tenants for carpet cleaning and painting (see page 57 of the booklet).

    Clean up as best you can, touch up any paint you need to, and tell your landlord that you spoke to a tenant's rights attorney and expect to get your full deposit back.

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  • 5 years ago

    They can charge to re-paint depending on how many years you lived there.

    Length of stay:

    Less than 6 months...full cost

    6 months to 1 year...2/3 cost

    1 year to 2 years....1/3 cost

    2 or more years...no deduction

    As for cleaning the carpets: they cannot charge for moderate dirt and spotting as this is considered normal wear & tear. They can charge for rips in the carpet, pet stains, large excessive staining.

    As for general cleaning: they can charge you to have the apt cleaned to get it to look the way it did before you moved in. This one is very arguable. Many landlords charge to have the place professionally cleaned as a matter of routine so even if you cleaned it very well yourself, they will still charge you. This is not legal under CA law yet is widely practiced by landlords. If you clean the place and it looks as clean as when you moved in they are not allowed to charge you. But they probably will. Its up to you to threaten them and take them to small claims court. I would be sure to take pictures of the cleaned apt.

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  • 1 decade ago

    the amount they are taking out is excessive. when i moved out of my last apt in california, i was indeed asked to have my carpet cleaned (it was in my signed contract), but the cost of that was only $100. you should not have to pay $250 for this routine procedure. check your rental contract. if they didn't inform you beforehand, you are being taken advantage of.

    also, next time you rent, when you fill out the rental condition sheet, note every single mark, tear or stain in the apartment so that they cannot charge you for wear and tear that you did not cause.

    edit: i didn't notice what you mentioned previously about part of the $250 being for the paint. i still think you are being taken advantage of. i am quite sure that what your friend stated about the normal wear and tear is correct - you weren't poking dozens of holes in the walls, were you?

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    they cant charge you for the paint. It is their responsibilty to repaint between tenants. The carpet cleaning I am going to look up....make sure you get an itemized bill from them in the end. and they have two weeks from your final day to get your money or a letter explaining why you arent getting anything back. Gosh Everyone in CA that rents needs a tenants rights book. Email me at fort_bragg_girl@yahoo.com and i will get you this book free

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  • 1 decade ago

    they can deduct a reasonable amount. but they have to be able to demonstrate on paper where those exact costs went if it went to court.

    i'd say here are a few options.

    tell them u will get your own carpet cleaner that will clean to their standards etc.

    and or if u let them do it, ask for a itemized invoice prior to him and after the service being done.

    if he's shady, threaten that u will expose him for the slumlord he is!!! lol lol jk. but if shady tell him $100 is fair for cleaning period. and if he disagrees take him to arbitration (whatever is in contract, i doubt its court.)

    and btw like u said wear and tear is not your responsibility i believe the wording is "leave in a reasonable and clean manner" that is general in most contracts i have used.

    Source(s): i used to have a bunch of houses i rented out. now i only flip houses i don't wanna fix toilets or answer the phone about how somethin doesn't work or find everything alll broke by lousy tenants! btw i can help u own your home....... not a sales pitch. i buy/sell 3-4 houses a month. and thats 30k each. once every 5months i buy a luxury house here in southern california and make over 200k just on one sale! have a nice day
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