What can I do if I think that my landlord is wrongfully taking my security deposit?

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What can I do if I think that my landlord is wrongfully taking my security deposit?

I have a clean record for vacating lease agreements and getting some or most of my deposit back. I am fair and pay what I should every time. For my most recent lease agreement I moved out of the area – so now it is more difficult for me to dispute claims the apartment complex is making. They have decided that I should pay for a full carpet replacement and also replacement of a screen door. The carpet was seriously not a problem in the 2 bedrooms, but needed shampooed in the living room. As for the screen door – there was nothing wrong with it and we used it up until the last day when we moved. I need to know who or how do I go about disputing their claim. It kind of feels like a fraudulent claim on the part of the apartment complex.

Asked on June 25, 2015 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

The only way to dispute the landlord's claim about the damage allegedly done during your tenancy and the amount(s) you owe from your security deposit would be to sue the landlord (possibly in small claims court) to recover the money. You would have to prove in court, by your testimony, the testimony of anyone else familiar with your apartment, and any photographs you may have, by a "preponderance of the evidence" (that it is more likely than not) that you did not do the damage that the landlord claimed (and/or that it costs less to repair than the landlord says) and that the landlord improperly took your deposit.


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