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Friday, 6-Jul-2012 15:44 Email | Share | Bookmark
The Security Behind The Deposit: How to Acquire It Back

Lanlord/Tenant Law is not one of my general elements of practice, nevertheless like each attorney, I have friends who frequently ask my advice regarding legal problems with that they are confronted. Recently, a friend asked for my help in similar with her previous landlord regarding charges taken out of her leasing safety deposit she felt were unwarranted.As landlord/tenant problems are amidst the most commonly known legal concerns I receive from friends, I'd like to talk about rights and responsibilities regarding safety deposits inside this article. At the finish I will include a test letter we can submit to a landlord for return of the deposit.Please note all info inside this article is certain to California statute. The regulations of the say or jurisdiction will differ. Many states offer renter's handbooks that might include significant regulations, or you really need to contact an attorney accredited inside a jurisdiction for assistance.- L.J.-----The most commonly known argumentbetween landlords and tenants is the return of the safety deposit. A safety deposit is money paid ahead of time of a tenancy by the tenant to protect the landlord against any spoil that will occur to the property when the tenant inhabits it. Section 1950.5 of the California civil code addresses safety deposits as well as a tenant's rights regarding return of the deposit.Security DepositsThe maximum safety deposit a landlord will charge is equal to two months' hire if the unit is unfurnished, or 3 months' hire for a furnished unit. The safety deposit is simply that - a deposit for the safety of the unit. It is no fee or last month's hire.When we move from the unit, you're entitled to a walk through inspection of the unit with all the landlord. Always request one. At the walk through you have the chance to argument any claims of spoil or depreciation asserted by a landlord should you disagree with these claims. You also will then have the chance to correct any issues.If there is indeedharm to the unit, the landlord may deduct the price for cleaning and treatments from a safety deposit and may return the unused part of the deposit to we. A landlord might not charge we for traditional cleaning or treatments caused by average wear and tear. As an example, over the years carpets tire from average foot traffic - when they didn't we might not have to replace them. Carpets typically have a life expectancy of 5-10 years, with 7 years being the most commonly known expectancy. Your landlord might not deduct the price of the ordinary wear and tear from a safety deposit. However, should you invited 300 of the closest friends over to walk about inside their dirty shoes and a formerly white clean carpet has become black, a landlord can charge we for the cleaning or for depreciation to the carpet.Your landlord should include an itemized list of every treatments as well as the cost of such treatments when returning a deposit. Any treatments made by a 3rd party (cleaning company, painter, contractor, etc.) should include a copy of the invoice. The landlord should include a description, total cost, hourly charge and time it took for any treatments made by the landlord or his/her staff. All charges should be reasonable.DepreciationA landlord will also deduct any charges for depreciation from a tenant's safety deposit. Depreciation is the decrease inside value due to use. Many items depreciate over a certain life expectancy, nevertheless heavy use will decrease its practical life. Examples of items inside a leasing unit that will depreciate include the carpets, tile or alternative floors, cabinets, products, doors, etc. Let's consider the example of a dishwasher.Terry Tenant used the dishwasher at her leasing unit inside ways inside that it wasn't meant, including giving her car system a thorough cleaning through the "pots and pans" cycle. The oil, grease and dirt residue, too as the heavy system caused irreversible harm to the dishwasher. Terry Tenant is mobile away and Larry Landlord discovers he'll should buy a unique dishwasher inside order to hire the unit. He desires to charge Terry for being forced to replace the dishwasher, nevertheless it happens to be not fair to charge Terry the whole cost, as future tenants may enjoy the unique dishwasher, and earlier tenants used the older dishwasher. Thus, depreciation is determined using the life expectancy, practical life and cost, and Terry is merely responsible for this cost.The IRS depreciation schedule for dishwashers is 5 years. Let's say Terry resided inside the unit for 1 yr, as well as the dishwasher was already two years older when Terry moved inside. So, the dishwasher must be replaced at 3 years of age, nevertheless it should have survived 5 years. Thus, the dishwasher should have survived for 2 more years (5-3), nevertheless due to Terry's use today must be replaced. Terry are responsible merely for the lost life of the dishwasher, or 2/5 of the price. If the dishwasher cost $1,000.00,Terry is responsible for $400.00 (2/5 x $1,000.00).What Should We Do?If we think a landlord has over billed we for certain treatments or has withheld part (or all) of the safety deposit without justification, you really need to first write a letter to a landlord explaining that charges we find unreasonable and why. You can wish to discuss the situation over the phone with a landlord, nevertheless be sure to also submit a letter through licensed mail, return receipt required. Keep the letter on aim and respectful. Visit the test letter under.If a landlord refuses to reply or refuses to return a deposit, you might want to file a suit inside California little claims court for the return of the deposit, court fees and maybe a penalty. Should you believe a landlord is acting inside bad trust inside refusing to return a deposit, California statute entitles we to recover twice the amount of the safety deposit. Just like any legal thing, you really need to contact a knowledgeable lawyer should you have concerns or concerns.However, before we file a suit inside little claims court, you really need to stop and analyze the landlord's claims of spoil. Did we leave the unit inside the same condition as when we moved inside? Are you certain the unit would not require any more cleaning, painting, carpentry, etc.? Occasionally tenants are unlikely regarding the problem of the unit and end up losing money going to court.Real World ApplicationBelow is a sample letter requesting the return of portions of the deposit withheld for carpet treatments. Please note the info inside the letter is merely an illustration for a certain situation. Be sure to incorporate the relevant details inside a situation inside the letter we submit.-----------DateSent Via Certified Mail - Return Receipt RequestedLarry LandlordLandlord Properties123 Main StreetAnytown, USA Re: Return of Security DepositDear Mr. Landlord:I am inside receipt of the check we brought to me for Three Hundred Fifty Dollars($350.00) for the return of my safety deposit ("Deposit Return") inside connection with my rental of the property found at _______[a address]__________________________________ (the "Property"). I dispute the Check Out Report and Statement of Charges ("Check Out Report") we included with all the Deposit Return.As we learn, we performed a Residential Lease ("Lease"), for rental of the Property starting ____[starting date]_____________ and terminating _[end date]_____________. In accordance with Section 4 of the Lease, I consented to pay a safety deposit of 8 Hundred Fifty Dollars ($850.00) ("Deposit") and made these payment found on the date the Lease was performed. In accordance with all the terms of the Lease, the Deposit was to be returned to me, less any costs or sums due, inside twenty-one (21) days of my vacating the Property. I vacated the Property on _______________ and completed a thorough cleaning of the Property before my departure. There were no damages to the Property beyondaverage wear and tear.The Check Out Report we transferred indicated the total spoil, cleaning and repair charges amounted to 5 Hundred Dollars ($500.00) which had been subtracted within the Deposit. However, the charges indicated found on the Check Out Report are unwarranted and unreasonable and should not have been deducted.The Check Out Report included the following charges:Pre-treat and deodorize carpet before steam clean $50Carpet Steam clean XYZ Carpet Cleaning Invoice $150California statute allows a landlord to retain any part of the safety deposit to bring back the premises to the same condition at the commencement of the tenancy, excluding any average wear and tear. Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.5(b). I frequently kept the carpets of the Property clean by [weekly vacuuming, normal steam cleaning, etc.]I realize that landlords systematically steam clean the carpets of a condo before a unique tenancy commences. However, California statute merely needs me to leave the Property inside the same amount of cleanliness as it was when I moved inside. Whatever repair needed at the time was due to normal wear and tear and cannot withheld within the safety deposit. Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.5(b).Additionally, the Check Out Report included a Three Hundred Dollar ($300.00) charge for "Depreciation of carpet." As these write states, the carpets were cleaned regularly rather than continued any spoil. [Should you took photographs or have alternative proof of the say of the carpets, mention it here]. There is nothing to indicate the charge for depreciation was anything more than reduction inside value due to normal wear and tear over the life expectancy of the carpet. Moreover, the Check Out Report would not include the formula employed in calculating the price of depreciation. Carpet depreciation should be determined using the price of repair, life of the carpet and size of the tenancy. You will need to offer these info, including a depreciation schedule with all the Internal Money Service (IRS) to justify the depreciation charge.Further, charging costs for cleaning the carpet as well as for depreciation to the carpet is conflicting and cannot reconciled. As a landlord might not charge for average wear and tear or traditional cleaning before a unique tenant assumes the premises, the costs we imposed for cleaning the carpets of the Property recommend we believed there were harm to the carpet beyond average wear which can be resolved through cleaning. However, charging for carpet depreciation means the harm to the carpet would never be resolved through carpet cleaning and therefore had resulted in a reduced value of the carpet. Furthermore, there is no purpose costs for carpet cleaning or carpet depreciation are warranted as the carpet was inside the same condition as when I moved inside.While I think it is inside your interests to solve this amicably, I am willing to follow this thing [inside negotiation inside accordance with all the Lease, and] insideSmall Claims Court, if necessary. You need to be aware that unreasonable charges by a landlord, like those included found on the Check Out Report, are determined to be in bad trust and can result in a penalty of twice the safety deposit too as any amounts improperly withheld. Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.5(l). Also, California statute allows the honor of attorney's costs, should this thing go to court.I argument all charges found in the Check Our Report as they are caused by average wear and tear and therefore are unreasonable below California statute. I need we return the rest of my Deposit which had been unreasonably withheld, 5 Hundred Dollars ($500.00) inside 10 (10) days to the address under. If I do not receive response from we inside now frame I will be forced to take further action.Please be advised that I reserve all rights and solutions accessible to me not clearly stated herein.Very Truly Yours,Terry TenantDisclaimer: This article is provided for informational purposes merely and ought not to be construed as legal advice. Your reviews are welcome at legaljunck@gmail.com, nevertheless contacting me, commenting under and/or reading this article refuses to create an attorney/client relationship. Should you require legal assistance you really need to contact an attorney accredited to practice statute inside a jurisdiction.Landlord Tenant\n

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