What to do if my landlord is asking for money for apartment cleaning and is threatening a lawsuit if I don’t pay?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What to do if my landlord is asking for money for apartment cleaning and is threatening a lawsuit if I don’t pay?

My landlord is threatening a lawsuit over money he believes that I owe him for damages to the apartment after I vacated. He wants to charge me $300 for patching nail holes and cleaning the oven and refrigerator.

I used my deposit for last month rent so paid him the difference in that monies but he’s refusing to send receipts for the cleaning and I believe he is overcharging me. I no longer live in the state. Can he really bring a lawsuit for this little money? His daughter is a lawyer and is threatening to file a suit. I don’t have the money to pay and feel like he is extorting money since he gut renovated the apt so he could substantially raise the rent. What should I do? They won’t produce receipts for the work done. Do they have to?

Asked on January 8, 2019 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

Yes, a landlord or any person can sue for $300--even for $1. It may be stupid to do and not cost effective, but they are allowed to do so.
You have to decide if it's worth it to you to pay rather than litigate, or whether you'd rather litigate, try to show in court that you did not cause damage (and/or already paid for it) and take the chance that you still could lose and be ordered to pay him.

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