Can you be charged for damages not noted on your move-out report?

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Can you be charged for damages not noted on your move-out report?

We lived in a 1285 ft townhouse for 1 year and the management’s refurbishing deductions were: Partial paint – $225; Heavy clean – $225; Carpet cleaning: replace due to heavy pet urine Replacements: Carpet – $1800. Carpet (product life cycle was 60 months but they say it lost 60 months of life) was washed very well before moving out. There were no stains/odors/changes in texture. Also, on our move out report, the carpet condition’s noted as good and in the comments, it says “overall clean (light cleaning)”. Is this fair?

Asked on October 8, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If damage is later discovered, after the move-out report, or if known damage (shown on the report) is later found to be more expensive or extensive than thought, the landlord can look to recover that money. If you disagree, however, you don't need to necessarily take the landlord's word for it, if you think they are lying, exaggerating, etc. You can refuse to pay, in which case the landlord would have to sue you to get the money (and you could in court present evidence that the damage was less); or if they take money from your security deposit, you could sue to recover it. The isssue comes down to what do you believe, agree, or can live with; what evidence do you and the landlord each have; and is it worth the cost and trouble of a lawsuit--either bringing one or defending--if you and the landlord can't work matters out.


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