Can my former landlord charge me for things after we did a move-out inspection and signed off on it?

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Can my former landlord charge me for things after we did a move-out inspection and signed off on it?

I recently did a move-out inspection with my landlord. She noted that some light bulbs need replacing and some touch up paint was needed on some of the walls. She gave us a sign inspection stating what needed to be fixed. Keep in mind the house was empty and we moved all of our belongings out prior to this inspection. 2 days after the inspection she emails us and saying there are all these problems with the carpet and refrigerator and she is going to charge us for these problems. I’m pretty sure she cannot charge us for these issues. We have a signed document stating everything was fine except normal wear and tear.

Asked on June 30, 2015 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Legally, she may charge you for any damage, beyond normal wear and tear, which she discovers you (or your family, guests, pets, etc.) did to the unit, even if such was not found during the walk-through or move out inspection, and even if there was a signed document indicating everything was ok. For example, if some damage was discoved later, the landlord may seek to charge you for it. Practically, however, it may be very difficult to do so: if you refuse to pay, she'd have to sue you for the money; or if she withholds it from your security deposit, you could sue her for its return; in either event, in court, she'd have to prove that the damage existed and was done by you, and the signed document and the fact that she did not cite you for� the damage earlier would be powerful evidence that the damage did not exist and/or was not done by you.


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