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My landlady asks $1400 for one room carpet replacement in ordinary house of Concord CA Security Deposit

Discussion in 'Commercial Landlord & Tenant Issues' started by dejaneiro, Jan 9, 2017.

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  1. dejaneiro

    dejaneiro Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hello, Sr. / Madam

    I am an international female student from Japan, who went one of colleges in Bay Area CA for 4 years and I just terminated my rental contract to come back to my country on 12/29 but I think my landlady is overcharging me for carpet installation. The house in dispute is located in a quiet area of Concord, CA.

    I paid $700 for security deposit on July 1st 2016 with my first rent. It is same amount as my monthly rent.

    I lived in there for about half a year (7/1 - 12/29) and I paid all my rents on time and she told me before my moving out that if I ever change my mind and decide to stay in the US she is very welcome to have me in her house.

    Everything went well and at least I thought I had a very pleasant relationship with my landlady.. Until now.

    During my stay I made some wine stain on the carpet and before moving out I tried to clean them with bleach which resulted in leaving minor white dots on carpet in my room. Upon moving out she mentioned about those white dots and I believe she has right to deduct reasonable sum of money for carpet replacement.

    Things got strange when my boyfriend showed up to her house as she agreed that he would go to pick up my bicycle and rest of security deposit. We asked prior on which day it will be good to come and she said 12/31 6pm. In that morning I asked via email how much I can get for security deposit and then she told me very later that she cannot give me estimate yet since all carpet companies are closed for holiday season so I have to wait till next week. I said OK thinking then today my boyfriend can just pick up my bike and he can revisit for my security deposit some other time. He showed up there, and she basically slapped the door in his face with a very cold tone of voice saying my boyfriend can't be here or she has to go. It's unclear where she had to go, without any explanation she kicked him out from her property. I am very surprised by this because she never behaved such impolitely before and, what does it takes for her to just open the garage so he can get my bike anyways? Then she sent me email saying it's very inappropriate for my boyfriend to visit her on unscheduled time. But,, she never said we can't go get bike and first of all it is her who set the schedule!

    Anyhow, I have been asking her for the rest of my deposit and she demands me for additional $700 because carpet replacement for small single room costs $1400.

    The carpet looked quite ordinary and she never mentioned that the carpet is of high value.
    Now I am asking her for further details such as the carpet company she asked estimate, carpet material, the room size. She hasn't replied yet.

    I know some of international students who paid for entire apartment in our area (carpet and wallpaper replacement of 1 single room, 1 master room, hallway, 1 living room, and also replacement kitchen floor) and it costs around $2000, and it's very hard to convince me and my boyfriend that carpet installation of one room costs $1400, but I am not sure. I know in Bay Area everything is expensive, but is it that much? On the internet some people say around it could cost around $300. The room was small and it never exceeds 15 square meters. The house is not new either.

    She is teaching art history in community college and I can't believe that a woman of such a respectful status would trick me into a scam. She was so nice with me and my boyfriend too. But now, she has changed and become very bland/emotionless and almost threatens me.

    I am already outside of the US and I am wondering what my situation is in legal terms.
    Does it ever happen that in a normal house single room carpet replacement costs $1400?
    I honestly don't care much of money (doesn't mean I am ultra rich!!) but I can't tolerate that she attempts to put the blame on me or that she thinks she can get easy few hundred bucks if she scares me with extra charge.

    I seek for opinions and advice. I only lived in the US for 4 years by myself and I am not in the know of this sort of issues. Please help me. Thank you.
     
  2. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    If you've left the USA, you can forget this unpleasant episode.
    Move on with your life.
    There's nothing a US landlord can do to a foreign national now living in another sovereign nation.
    Good life, good luck.
     
  3. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Agreed.
    Having left the country already it would be more expensive for you to pursue anything here.
    If you were still here then we could look at whether the landlord complied with legal requirements regarding your deposit and whether you wanted to go through small claims court to try to recover it.
    The $1400 is certainly inflated. You expected you would likely lose around half of your deposit, maybe even slightly more is reasonable. In the end you are probably out a couple hundred dollars at most, plus a bike.
    The landlord won't pursue you out of country. Put this behind you. Maybe in the future try not to leave loose ends before you leave the country.
     
  4. Commenting-Commenter

    Commenting-Commenter New Member

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    If you ever wind up in CA again, here's what the law is:

    "Carpets and drapes - "useful life" rule

    Normal wear and tear to carpets, drapes and other furnishings cannot be charged against a tenant's security deposit. Normal wear and tear includes simple wearing down of carpet and drapes because of normal use or aging, and includes moderate dirt or spotting. In contrast, large rips or indelible stains justify a deduction from the tenant's security deposit for repairing the carpet or drapes, or replacing them if that is reasonably necessary.

    One common method of calculating the deduction for replacement prorates the total cost of replacement so that the tenant pays only for the remaining useful life of the item that the tenant has damaged or destroyed. For example, suppose a tenant has damaged beyond repair an eight-year-old carpet that had a life expectancy of ten years, and that a replacement carpet of similar quality would cost $1,000. The landlord could properly charge only $200 for the two years' worth of life (use) that would have remained if the tenant had not damaged the carpet."

    Source: California Tenants - California Department of Consumer Affairs / 243 Civil Code Section 1950.5(e).
     
  5. zddoodah

    zddoodah Well-Known Member

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    With the exception of the statement that "Normal wear and tear . . . cannot [legally] be charged against a tenant's security deposit," what you quoted is not the law in California. The document to which you provided a link is a publication of the California Department of Consumer Affairs (which is not a lawmaking body). Much of what is written in that document summarizes California statutes, and the document contains copious footnotes to the actual law. However, other than the one statement mentioned, the part you quoted is not based on either Civil Code 1950.5(e) or any other statute. While this statement about carpets and drapes might be persuasive to a court, it is not the law.
     
  6. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    While depreciation (if that's what you're referring to) is not addressed in the landlord tenant statutes it is almost certainly addressed by California appellate decisions as well as the Restatement (2d) of Contracts in that:

    1 - An aggrieved party cannot profit from the breach so replacing new for old would not be awarded.

    2 - Measure of damages is meant to put the aggrieved party in the position he was prior to the breach. Used carpet and drapes for used carpet and drapes.
     
  7. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You've been warned about commenting on OLD threads.

    Please STOP doing it, thank you.

    There are many recent threads (within the last week) about which your comments are encouraged.

    Thank you.
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    You've been warned about commenting on OLD threads.

    Please STOP doing it, thank you.

    There are many recent threads (within the last week) about which your comments are encouraged.

    Thank you.
     

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