Can landlord withhold part of a deposit for pest control costs?

We moved into a rental house and discovered a roach problem 3 months ago. We notified the landlord at that time and she only gave us bait traps. I also used a roach spray. She never had a pest control come out to inspect or treat. Then 2 months ago we were served a 30-day Notice to Quit (over dispute our landlord was entering dwelling without permission while we weren’t home) and we moved out at the end of last month. The landlord is now withholding part of our deposit for 1) having to hire an exterminator and 2) to clean and sanitize.

Asked on July 18, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

The landlord may only withhold from a security deposit for damage or cleaning which exceeds normal "wear and tear" and which the tenants (or their families, guests, pets) caused. So--

1) Exterminator: if you did something to cause the infestation (e.g. did not dispose of garbage properly; left unsecured food out), then potentially the landlord could seek this cost from you.

2) Clean and sanitize: the landlord can't charge you for normal, end-of-lease cleaning; but if  you left a more-than-normal mess (e.g. rotted or spoiled food; grease on counters,appliances, or walls; heavily stained carpets; old furniture or clothing or matresses to be hauled way), then the landlord may be able to charge you.

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