Can my landlord charge me for cleaningand replacing the carpet if they were illegally subletting to me?

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Can my landlord charge me for cleaningand replacing the carpet if they were illegally subletting to me?

I am moving out of my place and my landlord is trying to take $300 of my deposit to clean and replace the carpet. She says that she doesn’t want to replace it until the new tenants move out but that she wants to clean it before they move in. I also found out today that she has been illegally subletting the room to me and that property management didn’t know I was living there. What can I do to fight her on this and get my deposit back? I signed a lease with her and have a receipt for the deposit but have been paying rent in cash and do not have receipts for that.

Asked on August 31, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The lease is good.  No receipts are bad.  But at least you can prove that the tenancy existed.  Is the amount for the security listed in the lease?  California law is very specific as to what conditions must exist to allow a landlord to keep some or part of a security deposit. The term you hear everywhere is other than "normal wear and tear" of the apartment or its furnishings.  The place has to be made "as clean" as when you moved in, absent normal wear and tear.  A deposit can never be "non refundable" in California.  There are also time limitations for return of the deposit and documentation - like receipts - that you need to be given for the work done.  Visit the website for the California Department of Consumer Affairs - dca.gov - for starters and to figure out your next move, which will most likely be to sue her.  Good luck.


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