What can we do if out apartment charged us for a missing gate card but we have original document showing that we turned it in?

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What can we do if out apartment charged us for a missing gate card but we have original document showing that we turned it in?

Last month, we moved out and received a move out document stating that we turned in all of our keys. It is signed by their employee and us and is dated. Now, they have sent us a letter saying they are withholding our deposit, plus charging us an additional fee for various charges. We disputed it and told them we turned it in, gave the employee’s name to say that they signed off on our turning in the key. We have the original document; they made a copy. We asked them to provide us with the document to show that we didn’t turn it in. When they gave us the document they had modified it and now are saying that the key was not returned. Is this legal? Can we demand that they take off the $100 fee and the rest of the fees that we feel are not justified?

Asked on June 26, 2019 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 1 year ago | Contributor

They cannot charge you for things they cannot prove you did or costs they cannot prove you caused them, so if you turned in the keycard, they can't charge you for it. If they will not voluntarily return the money to you, your recourse would be to sue them (such as in small claims court, as your own attorney or "pro se") for the money back; in court, you'd look to prove that you returned the card and could use the document to describe for that. The same principle applies to other charges: they can't charge you unless you actually incurred them, and if they try to charge you when they should not, you could sue them for the money back.


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