T-to-the-A

Everybody Wants a Piece

In The Daily Drool on May 6, 2010 at 3:45 pm

I just got my security deposit back… well, I got PART of it back, because everybody wants a piece and no one wants to pay for it.

Basically the situation is this, I lived in my apartment for 5 years… that’s a damn long time.  And by the time I left, it looked a bit as though someone had lived there for 5 years.  I’m not saying they can’t make some reasonable charges, but they kept almost half of the deposit, as though I had been some kind of miscreant just trashing the place.

I’m very upset.

So I wrote a letter… a very well mannered and articulate letter.  And I’d like your opinion.

Dear (Name Withheld… for now),


Thank you for the partial return of my security deposit for (my address).  I am, however writing to inform you that I believe several of the deductions were improper, and I look forward to resolving the issue with you as quickly as possible.

First let me note that according to a California supreme Court decision, if the landlord doesn’t provide a full refund, or a statement of deductions and a refund of amounts not deducted, by the end of the 21-day period as required by law the landlord loses the right to keep any of the security deposit and must return the entire deposit to you.  As such, I should have received my security deposit/list of deductions by the 21st of April.  Instead, I had to call you on Monday, May 3rd and then again on Wednesday May 5th before you called me back to notify me that the check was on its way.  It was mailed May 4th and received by me today, May 6, 2010 (15 days past due) with an itemized list of deductions but without the proper receipts or proof of expenses.

In regards to the deductions, my objections are thus:

CLEANING- You have listed a $160 cleaning charge, but I spent the entire move-out day cleaning the apartment.  I scrubbed and scoured both bathrooms, the kitchen and vacuumed the apartment and left it as clean as when I moved in (exception, the carpets – see below)

PATCHING WALLS- $50 charge – I also spent time patching and painting over the holes left by the artwork I had hung on the walls.  I am willing to concede that I may have missed a few, however, so I ask that you please provide proof of expense to make these patches.

REPLACEMENT (unreadable) DRAPE L/R – I am unable to read what this charge is in relation to, please provide explanation and receipt.

WINDOW SCREEN MASTER BEDROOM MISSING- $60 – This screen was in place when I moved out.  I know this because I had a fan in the window previously, a fan that attracted a lot of dust.  When I removed the fan, I dusted the screen behind it and then shut the window.  It is true that this screen was loose and had fallen out previously, hence my attention to it, but it was in place when I left the apartment.

CARPET DAMAGE/CATS- $250 – I have a strong objection to this charge listed as carpet damage when, upon moving into the apartment, we had neither new carpet nor new padding in the apartment.  As most tenants in the (name omitted) complex, the carpeting in the apartment was an almost immediate eyesore – stains from the padding beneath made themselves visible within months of our move-in.  An additional 5 years residency in the apartment would most certainly require it’s replacement in any circumstance.   Additionally, you have been replacing all apartment carpets with hard-wood flooring – even my neighbors who had neither pets nor had been living in the apartment as long as I have (name omitted)- upon their vacancies.   I don’t think I should be penalized for the carpets when they were stained not from cats, but from normal wear and tear and the previous tenant’s use.

DISPOSAL OF ITEMS LEFT IN APT. AND OUTSIDE- $75 – I fail to understand how you could possible make this charge when all that was left in the apartment were some cleaning supplies, hangars, and the plastic chair and terracotta pot outside.  I left the cleaning supplies in case you wanted them (felt wasteful to simply toss) and had forgotten about the other items until already gone.   This is obviously an unreasonable charge, especially when, if someone did charge an hourly rate to carry it down to the dumpster, it most certainly wouldn’t have taken very long to do.

All said, I have every hope of clearing this matter up as quickly as possible, and to our mutual satisfaction.  In summary-

Due to being 15 days late, I am technically due a complete refund of the security deposit for (address omitted).   That being said, in the interest of an expedient resolution to this matter, I am more than willing to discuss any charges you believe are fair deductions from the deposit, providing receipts and due explanation are delivered to me at the address posted on the first page of this letter.

Thank you for your time and prompt response.


What do you think?

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  1. I think you’re brilliant and that you possibly missed a calling to be a lawyer. 🙂

  2. Oh, thank you! Maybe I will go back to school for law… haha… I’ve been trying to find somewhere to hide from Sallie Mae… 😉

  3. You certainly have a case if you have pictures. I see this on People’s court all the time.

  4. Here’s the kicker, I have pics from move out, but have apparently lost ALL pictures from when I moved in (about two months worth that year gone missing? Stupid data transfer BS…) How’s the case with only one set of pics? GAH!

  5. I think if you can show how you left the place, you should be fine in small claims court. I don’t think they’ll give you back the cleaning fee, that’s pretty standard. re: the carpets, can you get one of the neighbors to see if they put in wood floors? the fact that they didn’t send you the proper itemized list with receipts will help you, but most likely they’ll make you take them to court. DON’T CASH THE CHECK THEY SENT if you are planning to go to court.

  6. You DEFINITELY have a case – the deadline alone means they owe you all of it. Why’s everyone have to be a criminal!?

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