Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

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MrJones
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Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby MrJones » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:35 pm

So upon moving out, I got charged a hefty sum from my rental deposit. There are at least three parts that I find very unreasonable.

1) Painting: I can see no difference in paint, but the apartment management claims they need to paint several walls of the apartment, and will thus charge me for it. What they claim needs paint doesn't even show up in photos. I suspect if there's anything at all, it's a part of normal wear and tear, and nothing to do with me

2) Cleaning: I cleaned thoroughly, though I wouldn't fight perhaps 30mins of work (to be generous). But the amount they want to charge is say 2x-3x what it should cost

3) "Commerical" carpet cleaning: they insist commercial cleaning is required of everyone upon move out. The carpeted area is small and I left it pristine, and well vacuumed. Is it even legal to demand commercial cleaning just because?

The problem is, they got a painter to give an estimate, and so he's incentivized to maximize the bill, while the management doesn't care because they plan to simply take it out of my deposit. This setup seems fundamentally flawed as there is no incentive for those two parties to be reasonable.

This is in CA. They've gotten back with amounts. Ideally, I should pay say $40 for cleaning, and that's it. Unfortunately, it's way higher. To be pragmatic, I'm willing to just let go of (3) if that's what it takes. (2) should be halved, and I shouldn't have to pay anything for (1).

Arguing with the managers is hard, as they seem uneducated on basics (eg: normal wear and tear cannot be billed to the tenant, all charges should be reasonable, etc.).

How should I approach this?
Last edited by MrJones on Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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knpstr
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby knpstr » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:39 pm

If you ask them for more back because you think it's unreasonable and they refuse... sounds like you'll have to take them to small claims court.

:beer

Also leaving things dirty isn't normal wear and tear. If it isn't left as clean as you found it, then they can charge for cleaning.
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endospies
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby endospies » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:42 pm

I learned my lesson after the same happening to me.

Take a look at this site and see if there is anything that can steer you in the proper direction.

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/land ... osit.shtml

clutchied
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby clutchied » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:43 pm

MrJones wrote:So upon moving out, I got charged a hefty sum from my rental deposit. There are at least three parts that I find very unreasonable.

1) Painting: I can see no difference in paint, but the apartment management claims they need to paint several walls of the apartment, and will thus charge me for it. What they claim needs paint doesn't even show up in photos. I suspect if there's anything at all, it's a part of normal wear and tear, and nothing to do with me

2) Cleaning: though perhaps 30mins of work is warranted, the amount they want to charge is say 2x-3x what it should cost

3) "Commerical" carpet cleaning: they insist commercial cleaning is required of everyone upon move out. The carpeted area is small and I left it pristine, and well vacuumed. Is it even legal to demand commercial cleaning just because?

The problem is, they got a painter to give an estimate, and so he's incentivized to maximize the bill, while the management doesn't care because they plan to simply take it out of my deposit. This setup seems fundamentally flawed as there is no incentive for those two parties to be reasonable.

This is in CA. They've gotten back with amounts. Ideally, I should pay say $40 for cleaning, and that's it. Unfortunately, it's way higher. To be pragmatic, I'm willing to just let go of (3) if that's what it takes. (2) should be halved, and I shouldn't have to pay anything for (1).

Arguing with the managers is hard, as they seem uneducated on basics (eg: normal wear and tear cannot be billed to the tenant, all charges should be reasonable, etc.).

How should I approach this?


None of that falls into an area you would be responsible for.

They are responsible for normal wear and tear. They are responsible for cleaning carpets unless you stained them. You are responsible for cleaning but it sounds like this is a standard tactic they are using.

Most people just go with it. These charges are completely inappropriate if you've represented the condition appropriately.

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Pajamas
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Pajamas » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:54 pm

Check the terms of your lease carefully and your state and local laws. Usually tenants rights sites have information about this for urban areas. Often there are even legal or regulatory requirements about about frequency of painting for rental properties and similar and specific requirements including time limits for returning security deposits. Don't hesitate to report any violations.

Light wear and soiling of painted surfaces and floor coverings and even small nail holes in walls are generally considered normal wear and tear and cleaning and renewal of wall, ceiling, and floor surfaces are expected expenses for landlords.

I have had landlords thank me for leaving apartments in good condition when all I did was not cause damage and leave the apartment clean. (Wiping down bathroom and kitchen, sweeping and vacuuming or mopping.)

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Cobra Commander » Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:59 pm

I would start by looking at your lease, particularly with respect to the carpets. Your lease may have a provision that requires you to have the carpets professionally cleaned upon move out.

I would probably let the cleaning go. There's probably a minimum charge just to get someone out there to do the cleaning and you admit some cleaning needed to be done.

Painting sounds like normal wear and tear so I would fight them on that one.

In the future, you should take pictures of the unit upon moving out so you have your own evidence and do not need to rely upon the LL. Obviously, the burden of proof is on them to prove damages but it's nice to have your own pics to show that the place looked fine when you moved out.

You should also consider whether there are any special state-specific tenant protections. You said you're out in CA so I suspect there are since CA is generally a consumer-friendly state.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby downshiftme » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:00 pm

Despite much cleaning and no damage, I have had landlords that quickly returned the entire security deposit and landlords that had a long list of items that consumed most or all of my security deposit. It never seemed to matter what I did or how much care I took. My options for contesting those landlords who seemed to be using confiscating security deposits as another source of profit never seemed adequate and I never got any of those contested deposits. To me it was just another of the reasons why I wanted to own instead of rent. As a renter, I was more or less powerless to get my deposit back and bringing lawyers and courts into it seemed like more effort (and possibly expense) than what I could gain. I'm sure the unscrupulous landlords with confiscatory deposit policies knew that.

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8foot7
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby 8foot7 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:04 pm

Small claims. These are pretty open and shut and generally a very well regulated area. Most likely once they receive the summons they will simply refund your money and be done with it.

MrJones
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby MrJones » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:07 pm

Thanks everyone for the responses so far.

clutchied wrote:They are responsible for normal wear and tear. They are responsible for cleaning carpets unless you stained them. You are responsible for cleaning but it sounds like this is a standard tactic they are using.

Most people just go with it. These charges are completely inappropriate if you've represented the condition appropriately.


Yes, this seems to exactly be the crux of the problem. The link endospies sent spells things out well. The management seems to basically ignore aspects of that, and it seems to because most people just go with it. As an example, the carpet has not a single stain or even a speck of dirt on it. They don't disagree with that, but insist that they "charge everyone for commercial cleaning," and therefore that is somehow okay.

So if I go with what the law says, that makes them angry because it goes against their standard practice. I don't think I can go all out and pursue this for months, but there's still reasonably at least a 6x difference between what I perceive as reasonable and what they took out of the deposit. This makes it hard to swallow.

What is the most effective thing I can do that will at least cause them to give back some significant part of the amount so I can just put this behind and move on? Whom should I talk to? Any tips on how to avoid unproductively escalating this?

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Pajamas
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Pajamas » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:13 pm

Make it clear in writing that you left the apartment clean and in good condition and that you expect the full refund that you are entitled to as specified in your lease and by law. Ask to inspect the apartment with someone from the management company and take photos or video if they disagree. Ask for assistance from a tenant's rights association or government office if they don't cooperate. If you have evidence to prove your case, you can go to small claims court as a last resort.

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8foot7
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby 8foot7 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:22 pm

MrJones wrote:What is the most effective thing I can do that will at least cause them to give back some significant part of the amount so I can just put this behind and move on? Whom should I talk to? Any tips on how to avoid unproductively escalating this?


The most bang for the buck: tell them to refund in 14 days or you're going to file in small claims. That's it. And then, like I said, file in small claims on the 15th day. It's easy, doesn't cost much, and better than 50% chance they just cave. You'll likely win anyway if you are correctly representing the condition of the apartment when you left. I wouldn't mess around with rights groups or advocates or whatever. Give the landlord a chance to refund your at your stern insistence, and then if they don't, take them to court.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby SurferLife » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:27 pm

We are approaching a move-out and expect to find ourselves in a similar situation. We were advised by a local attorney friend to use the property managements references in getting the place cleaned, lawn taken care of, etc..., prior to moving out. We have hired our own cleaners and lawn care folks, but prior to moving out, we will use their folks to ensure it's cleaned to their standards. I know that doesn't help you now, but perhaps it'll help you and others in the future.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Bogle826 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 4:52 pm

if you tell them that you'll stay for the additional month and maybe longer if they want to drag this out in court if no deposit is returned, i'm sure they'll consider giving you back the deposit asap.

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Pajamas
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Pajamas » Tue Apr 04, 2017 5:02 pm

8foot7 wrote:
MrJones wrote:What is the most effective thing I can do that will at least cause them to give back some significant part of the amount so I can just put this behind and move on? Whom should I talk to? Any tips on how to avoid unproductively escalating this?


The most bang for the buck: tell them to refund in 14 days or you're going to file in small claims. That's it. And then, like I said, file in small claims on the 15th day. It's easy, doesn't cost much, and better than 50% chance they just cave. You'll likely win anyway if you are correctly representing the condition of the apartment when you left. I wouldn't mess around with rights groups or advocates or whatever. Give the landlord a chance to refund your at your stern insistence, and then if they don't, take them to court.


The problem with your approach is that there are costs involved with small claims court plus it may require time off from work to go to court, and also delays. A carefully-worded letter asserting rights or one from a lawyer with a tenant's rights organization IS "stern insistence" and may be much faster and cheaper than going to small claims court. Most lawyers will tell you that court should be a last resort for practical reasons.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby clutchied » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:24 pm

guys I think something is getting lost here.

You are required to leave the unit clean. It doesn't matter what their standards are. It doesn't matter what their policy is. If you cleaned the unit and the items have not been destroyed, damaged or stained you are due your deposit back.

They cannot charge you for wear and use items. They cannot charge you for carpet cleaning unless you stained it.


I say this as a landlord, you are entitled to your deposit back. They are withholding it inappropriately and attempting to take advantage of you. This is standard practice for many of these companies and they make a killing on it because people don't know their rights. It's CA for God's sake... you could probably file and request damages for double the deposit citing a willful flaunting of state law...

Send them a demand letter return receipt requested. Cite the appropriate laws and wait for you deposit. It will magically appear.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby dm200 » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:33 pm

No direct experience, but I would check the applicable laws and regulations on the painting issue. I was under the impression that (in most jurisdictions) a landlord must repaint an apartment at a certain frequency and/or when tenant turnover. It is not reasonable to charge tenants for what should be the expense of being a landlord.

Some jurisdictions have "tenant landlord commissions" -

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby denovo » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:36 pm

How many years did you occupy the unit and yes it matters.
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby JonnyDVM » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:37 pm

8foot7 wrote:
MrJones wrote:What is the most effective thing I can do that will at least cause them to give back some significant part of the amount so I can just put this behind and move on? Whom should I talk to? Any tips on how to avoid unproductively escalating this?


The most bang for the buck: tell them to refund in 14 days or you're going to file in small claims. That's it. And then, like I said, file in small claims on the 15th day. It's easy, doesn't cost much, and better than 50% chance they just cave. You'll likely win anyway if you are correctly representing the condition of the apartment when you left. I wouldn't mess around with rights groups or advocates or whatever. Give the landlord a chance to refund your at your stern insistence, and then if they don't, take them to court.


Good advice IMO. Not sure of your specific state's situation but a lot of states put the onus on the landlord to prove abnormal damage was done and the retention of deposit was justified. What you're describing is normal wear and tear. Send a certified letter explaining that you disagree with the charges and will take them to small claims court if they don't refund your deposit. Then actually DO it. They'll give in. They're in the wrong. I had a security deposit taken from me wrongly in college and knowing what I know now, it would have been super easy to get it back by doing this. Most people don't contest it.

As a landlord I never retained a deposit ever. Painting and carpet cleaning is standard when changing tenants.
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MrJones
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby MrJones » Tue Apr 04, 2017 8:47 pm

Thank you all. I'm definitely going to send a letter citing the appropriate laws as clutchied said.

One important thing I didn't mention is, I moved to a larger apartment within the same set of apartments. Ironic because one would think this would be an advantage, but it isn't. I'm wondering if the relationship with them will get messy if I hint at taking legal action, arbitration, etc.

The manager sent me photos that don't even show paint issues because that's how light they are. They said I couldn't possibly live for even a month without those very basic paint issues (extremely minor scuffs on shelves and such) coming up. I tried to point out that that's the very definition of "wear and tear," but they couldn't quite grasp that.

For reference, the last time I moved and left an apartment in this condition, I got charged $15 from my deposit, which I was more than happy to part with. These folks want like 30x that much.

I also found out the management, and perhaps the owner is a megacorp. Unfortunately, this seems to be their standard tactic, and I assume I'll be up against their lawyers and so on. The managers here are but pawns. I'll send a polite, factual letter to the higher ups citing the laws, and see what happens. The good thing is, I took a decent number of photos when moving out after cleaning. I'm assuming I should include these when I write the letter.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby denovo » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:00 pm

denovo wrote:How many years did you occupy the unit and yes it matters.
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MrJones
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby MrJones » Thu Apr 06, 2017 11:15 am

denovo wrote:
denovo wrote:How many years did you occupy the unit and yes it matters.


A year and two months.

MrJones
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby MrJones » Tue Apr 18, 2017 10:38 am

OP here. Update: I wrote a detailed letter. On (1), I carefully documented the painting issues, which show that they were all wear and tear, and cited the law on this. On (2), I sent a reasonable estimated backed up by photos. I didn't push on (3).

I promptly got back a 100% refund for (1) (which had been completely refused until that point). I got back nothing for (2). Funnily, this is very reflective of how carefully I documented these issues in the letter. I decided to not push further just so my relationship with them does not get strained. I'm still annoyed on principle.

Given how this has turned out, I'm quite positive, as some of you mentioned, that if I got more detailed on (2) (eg: got an estimate from a cleaner), and cited the law on (3), I'd have had a very good chance of getting back most of the money on those. And if not, and if I'd taken this to small claims court, it most likely would have succeeded.

Lessons learned (many of you already covered this):
- they follow a standard procedure (unethical and probably illegal) which no one questions. Please question these things to avoid getting exploited!
- the time spent in documenting and writing was more than worth it financially. Documenting is quite easy and quick these days
- patient, polite, but determined follow up probably helped a lot

Thank you so much to everyone for sharing your views, articulations, experience, and advice!
Last edited by MrJones on Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:43 am, edited 1 time in total.

2015
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby 2015 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:29 am

Wow, this brings back memories.

Years and years and years ago when I first moved to Los Angeles, I rented in a building owned by a man who must have been practicing to be a slumlord. I moved out and bought a place after living there just 6 months, but just knew I was going to have hard time getting my security deposit back. I worked in law at the time, and thus had knowledge of all things wicked, unethical and immoral, LA Law style. I sent the landlord a three page letter crammed with "legalese", and even "served" the letter on his building property manager "by personal service". I cc'd an "esq." (who was actually a friend who was a paralegal working in a sole practitioner attorney's office). In the letter, I cited the landlord's failure to correct numerous issues wrong with the unit, the building, and the rental situation, and claimed my rights and protections under at least 7 or 8 agencies (including the Environmental Protection Agency!).

His lawyer called me, probably in an effort to intimidate me. I still recall him starting with "I know what you're trying to pull here..." Having worked in law for years, I knew how unscrupulous these people were/are/can be, and let him talk about about 5 minutes. When he finished, I replied, "I don't know what you think I'm trying to pull, but let me tell you of the violations this landlord has engaged in." I surprised him, because it was obvious he knew nothing of this. He cut me off after a minute and said, "alright, what do you want?" I knew there I had him, and so said I wanted to meet with the landlord in person for a walk through, at which time I wanted my total security deposit back (in cash because I didn't trust the guy).

I brought a friend with me as a witness, met the landlord, walked through the unit (which was clean and in excellent condition), and got all of the security deposit back. In cash.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby 2comma » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:23 pm

8foot7 wrote:Small claims. These are pretty open and shut and generally a very well regulated area. Most likely once they receive the summons they will simply refund your money and be done with it.


Many years ago a friend left his apartment spotless and the management refused to return the deposit. He called the State Attorney's Office, this was in Virginia. They recommended he file in small claims court. No lawyer needed and a small fee to initiate. He did and they promptly refunded his deposit.

This was in a military area where I suspect many were moving to far flung regions of the world and wouldn't bother to fight back. I suspect this was a ploy and once they received a summons to appear in court they knew they had been outsmarted.
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby reriodan » Tue Apr 18, 2017 12:42 pm

This is why many people leave without paying the last months rent.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Double_A » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:25 pm

MrJones wrote:OP here. Update:

I decided to not push further just so my relationship with them does not get strained. I'm still annoyed on principle.

Given how this has turned out, I'm quite positive, as some of you mentioned, that if I got more detailed on (2) (eg: got an estimate from a cleaner), and cited the law on (3), I'd have had a very good chance of getting back most of the money on those. And if not, and if I'd taken this to small claims court, it most likely would have succeeded.


Why are you worried about your "relationship" with the management or owner so much? You are engaging in a business transaction, so unless you are getting some additional "perks" from them that other people without a good relationship aren't getting, you should look out for your best interest only. They have clearly tried to screw you over without regard for you or your rights under the law, and will likely do it again the next chance they get no matter what good will you think you have with them now that you could have have exercised your rights to get more of your security deposit back but did not.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby jalbert » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:35 pm

This won't help the OP with the current situation, but a useful strategy is to schedule a walkthrough with the landlord or property manager when surrendering the apartment, and any issues may be discussed at that time. A good landlord should be willing to do this and write the refund check during the walkthrough if everything is in order. If there are issues, a resolution may be negotiated during the walkthrough. When signing the rental agreement at movein, it even might be worth writing into the agreement that the landlord agrees to do such a moveout walkthrough.
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby BHUser27 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:39 pm

This issue is best dealt with pro-actively when you initially sign the lease.

In my experience, the "required" items (usually carpet cleaning and paint) are usually called out in the lease itself, or the deposit agreement. I always try to get permission to hire or DIY these two items myself and put it in writing with initials on the original lease.

At move-out I make sure the place is spotless and that every light bulb works. I document this with a dated line-list of completed move-out work and numerous photos - then I submit a deposit refund request letter along with copies of the documented work and/or any receipts if I hire someone. This usually results in 100% refund.
Last edited by BHUser27 on Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby jalbert » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:40 pm

reriodan wrote:This is why many people leave without paying the last months rent.

This is usually a bad idea (unless the rental agreement specifies that month's rent is paid at movein) because 30 days of late fees as well as a month's rent may be deducted from your deposit. It also precludes using the landlord as a reference.
Risk is not a guarantor of return.

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reriodan
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby reriodan » Tue Apr 18, 2017 1:52 pm

jalbert wrote:
reriodan wrote:This is why many people leave without paying the last months rent.

This is usually a bad idea (unless the rental agreement specifies that month's rent is paid at movein) because 30 days of late fees as well as a month's rent may be deducted from your deposit. It also precludes using the landlord as a reference.


Normally the security deposit is one months rent, right? So it's basically a wash. You are right though, you won't be able to use them as a reference.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby jalbert » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:05 pm

reriodan wrote:Normally the security deposit is one months rent, right? So it's basically a wash. You are right though, you won't be able to use them as a reference.


I don't think it is unusual for deposits to be more than one month's rent, as the landlord will want to protect against the proposed strategy. If the apartment is also not clean, cleaning costs will be deducted as well, and you may end up with a net liability instead of partial refund. This is not particularly desirable even if the landlord chooses not to pursue it.
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Liberty1100 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 2:16 pm

Ugh, I have had my own renting nightmares. I am glad the OP is happy with his outcome.

I think this should serve as a reminder for everyone to know your rights, don't sign anything until you read it (Terms & Conditions included (but quickly, probably), and get everything in writing (photos). Also, the law wins over whatever is in your lease. In the OPs situation, the law (his rights) should first be looked at.

I also want to reiterate that when it comes to renting, it can be a very personal relationship between the renter and the landlord/manager. However, it is actually a professional relationship and should always be one.

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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby 8foot7 » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:41 pm

Double_A wrote:
MrJones wrote:OP here. Update:

I decided to not push further just so my relationship with them does not get strained. I'm still annoyed on principle.

Given how this has turned out, I'm quite positive, as some of you mentioned, that if I got more detailed on (2) (eg: got an estimate from a cleaner), and cited the law on (3), I'd have had a very good chance of getting back most of the money on those. And if not, and if I'd taken this to small claims court, it most likely would have succeeded.


Why are you worried about your "relationship" with the management or owner so much? You are engaging in a business transaction, so unless you are getting some additional "perks" from them that other people without a good relationship aren't getting, you should look out for your best interest only. They have clearly tried to screw you over without regard for you or your rights under the law, and will likely do it again the next chance they get no matter what good will you think you have with them now that you could have have exercised your rights to get more of your security deposit back but did not.


I agree with this. You no longer have a relationship worth valuing if they already tried to pull one over on you. You are protected in your current lease, yeah? So go after the rest.

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Cobra Commander
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Cobra Commander » Tue Apr 18, 2017 3:58 pm

reriodan wrote:
jalbert wrote:
reriodan wrote:This is why many people leave without paying the last months rent.

This is usually a bad idea (unless the rental agreement specifies that month's rent is paid at movein) because 30 days of late fees as well as a month's rent may be deducted from your deposit. It also precludes using the landlord as a reference.


Normally the security deposit is one months rent, right? So it's basically a wash. You are right though, you won't be able to use them as a reference.


This is a terrible idea, especially with an apartment complex and no its not a wash. After you are one week late they will serve you with a pay or quit notice and charge you a fee for the pleasure. After the time period in the pay or quit has expired they will promptly commence eviction proceedings. Every apartment complex I have lived in and gone up against as an attorney has included attorney fees as "additional rent" under the lease which, in at least several states that I know of, allows them to collect these fees as a judgment in an eviction proceeding. The only place I know of where you can probably get away with this is NYC which is very tenant friendly although obviously the law will vary by state and there may be a few states that prohibit tacking attorney fees onto the judgment but I'm not aware of any. Just in case the forgoing isn't enough to convince you that this is a terrible idea, even if they only do a non-payment proceeding you'll have a judgment against you and you'll have to hope that the LL files a notice of satisfaction of judgment based upon them seizing the security deposit or else you'll have a judgment against you.

You can roll the dice and hope they don't try to evict you if you don't pay but quite frankly you would have to be a really stupid landlord to let a tenant go a month without paying and not start the eviction process.

Katietsu
Posts: 526
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Katietsu » Tue Apr 18, 2017 4:10 pm

The apartment complex where I rented many years ago required commercial cleaning and painting upon move out in the original lease. Not a matter of staining or excessive wear and tear but a matter of contract.

McCharley
Posts: 268
Joined: Tue Apr 12, 2011 5:45 pm

Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby McCharley » Tue Apr 18, 2017 11:38 pm

Cobra Commander wrote:
reriodan wrote:
jalbert wrote:
reriodan wrote:This is why many people leave without paying the last months rent.

This is usually a bad idea (unless the rental agreement specifies that month's rent is paid at movein) because 30 days of late fees as well as a month's rent may be deducted from your deposit. It also precludes using the landlord as a reference.


Normally the security deposit is one months rent, right? So it's basically a wash. You are right though, you won't be able to use them as a reference.


This is a terrible idea, especially with an apartment complex and no its not a wash. After you are one week late they will serve you with a pay or quit notice and charge you a fee for the pleasure. After the time period in the pay or quit has expired they will promptly commence eviction proceedings. Every apartment complex I have lived in and gone up against as an attorney has included attorney fees as "additional rent" under the lease which, in at least several states that I know of, allows them to collect these fees as a judgment in an eviction proceeding. The only place I know of where you can probably get away with this is NYC which is very tenant friendly although obviously the law will vary by state and there may be a few states that prohibit tacking attorney fees onto the judgment but I'm not aware of any. Just in case the forgoing isn't enough to convince you that this is a terrible idea, even if they only do a non-payment proceeding you'll have a judgment against you and you'll have to hope that the LL files a notice of satisfaction of judgment based upon them seizing the security deposit or else you'll have a judgment against you.

You can roll the dice and hope they don't try to evict you if you don't pay but quite frankly you would have to be a really stupid landlord to let a tenant go a month without paying and not start the eviction process.


I have always just subtracted the amount of security deposit from the last months of rent. (This has never been in a large apartment complex, though.) One place I had been at sent me a letter stating all the (totally bogus) reasons they would not return my deposit -- they must not have noticed that lack of a rent check for the last two months. :greedy My policy has always been to make them come to me. I have never known anyone to get their deposit back except in big apartment buildings. Judges tend to split the difference in small claims court -- you may win half your deposit back. :annoyed

Mudpuppy
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Location: Sunny California

Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Mudpuppy » Thu Apr 20, 2017 12:32 am

The next time you move out of a rental in California, take advantage of your right to request a pre move out inspection, which is called the "Initial Inspection" in this CA renter's rights link: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/land ... osit.shtml

The last rental I moved out of, I scheduled this inspection and the property manager never showed. I scheduled again, and the property manager never showed. I documented both missed appointments. When the property manager then tried their standard shady practice (in their case, it was claiming the carpet was ruined and needed to be replaced... for every unit that moved out of that complex while I lived there), I hit them back with this law. The complex had also recently changed management firms, but kept the same property manager, so I called the new management firm instead of dealing with the shady property manager. I got my deposit back pretty quickly after that.

So just remember this for when you move out of your current apartment. Take advantage of your right to request an inspection.

michaeljc70
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Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby michaeljc70 » Thu Apr 20, 2017 9:40 am

Glad I no longer have to deal with this. There are always some landlords that look at the deposit as a profit maker, which isn't its intent.

Unfortunately, your options are limited. Photograph everything obviously. Suing is typically not worth the trouble/hassle, but threatening to can work. If you have a friend or acquaintance that is an attorney, have them write a letter to the landlord/management company including photos. I would threaten to write reviews on Yelp (or elsewhere) telling your story if they don't refund your money.

Going into a lease, you can push for a clause to use the sec deposit as the last months rent with an inspection before. Doesn't usually work, but has worked.

panhead
Posts: 117
Joined: Fri Feb 22, 2013 10:53 am

Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby panhead » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:41 am

If California is anything like Mass then this is completely illegal. I'm a landlord in Mass and actually stopped collecting security deposits because they have to be treated differently than other deposits, and if not treated properly the tenant can get up to triple damages. Add to this that keeping security deposits for the kind of stuff that you are talking about is completely illegal (ie, normal wear and tear). Place has to be "broom clean" not spotless as well. If a tenant does real damage to a unit, the one months rent of the security deposit will be of little help anyway, they are just not worth the trouble for small landlords.

Research the California tenant law, google it with respect to security deposits and you will quickly find out what the law expects and what damages you can go after. Then I would very much suggest what has been mentioned: A respectful letter that clearly states that you expect your full security deposit back in (xx) days or you will pursue the matter in court. The (xx) days will be spelled out in the law, as in how many days they have to return it to you. If you are still in the unit (it wasn't clear) be sure you take pictures of everything before you leave to show how it was left. If they do not comply, you will almost certainly win in court, and they should be responsible for your court costs as well.

Just my $.02, but its what I would do.

Edited to add: If this is a large management company, they won't care about going to court as they do it all the time, so be prepared to do what you threaten.

Carefreeap
Posts: 1710
Joined: Tue Jan 13, 2015 7:36 pm
Location: SF Bay Area

Re: Security deposit issues upon rental move-out. Or, how do I not get ripped off?

Postby Carefreeap » Thu Apr 20, 2017 10:47 am

Mudpuppy wrote:The next time you move out of a rental in California, take advantage of your right to request a pre move out inspection, which is called the "Initial Inspection" in this CA renter's rights link: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/land ... osit.shtml

The last rental I moved out of, I scheduled this inspection and the property manager never showed. I scheduled again, and the property manager never showed. I documented both missed appointments. When the property manager then tried their standard shady practice (in their case, it was claiming the carpet was ruined and needed to be replaced... for every unit that moved out of that complex while I lived there), I hit them back with this law. The complex had also recently changed management firms, but kept the same property manager, so I called the new management firm instead of dealing with the shady property manager. I got my deposit back pretty quickly after that.

So just remember this for when you move out of your current apartment. Take advantage of your right to request an inspection.


:thumbsup

I used to do this BEFORE it became law. And I do in AZ where it is not required. Not all landlords are jerks.

As I explain to people who rent from me, I DON'T want your deposit. What I want is a clean rentable property less ordinary wear and tear. If I have to hire someone to clean or repair items which are your responsibility then that WILL come out of your deposit. I take pride in refunding full deposits because that means we had good communication.

Some people treat the LL-tenant relationship as a war between two sides trying to take advantage of each other. I try to treat as the mutually beneficial arrangement that it's supposed to be.

I'd say this strategy has worked about 85% of the time.


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