Should I respond to my ex-landlord’s itemized list if it seems like he wants us to pay nearly $4k in damages fo a rental that we left in fine condition?

He also wants our $500 security deposit. The main thrust of his letter is that there is water or chemical damage on the granite countertops. Honestly, the countertops were less shiny when we moved out but we didn’t actively damage them. In hindsight perhaps they should have been resealed every 6 months or so but it was never discussed. The thing is, I’ve moved overseas now and have been advised to ignore his letter. I feel that the security deposit remaining is adequate to cover the cleaning and repair in light of our 8 year tenancy. As for the countertops, perhaps some preventative maintenance would’ve been the ticket.

Asked on June 8, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


Janet Martin / Janet Martin Attorney at Law

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Sounds like the counter tops must be really damaged, and since you only have a $500 security deposit, the Landlord would actually have to sue you for the difference and prove you IN FACT damaged the countertops (and defend his failure to maintain them, or require you to maintain them), IF you were around to sue. That's a tall order even if you are around, but since you are not he can not actually serve you properly. He must know this. I wouldn't necessarily ignore the letter since you may someday move back in the state, only to find a big judgment against you with 10% interest running. (although that it would have been improperly served). I would write back, deny any damage, point out your lease did not require countertop particular maintenance and as such that was his obligation as the owner, if in fact it was just a maintenance issue. You might ask for proof of his claim that is it other than ordinary wear and tear. Just the fact you replied and denied it is better than ignoring it. and then I would demand your $500 back since this was ordinary wear and tear, which a Landlord can not charge for. The security deposit is for damage.

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