Legal Question in Civil Litigation in California

I rented condo for one year lease and we found snakes at the house so we called the owner and we ended the contract we lived there for 2 weeks now she wants to deduct amount from the deposit with no right .. what can we do?

Asked on 10/03/13, 8:42 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

Joel Selik

If they won't comply, small claims court is probably your best bet.

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Answered on 10/03/13, 10:16 pm

Anthony Roach Law Office of Anthony A. Roach

It sounds as though you did enter into a landlord tenant relationship, but it is not clear from your post whether the amounts deducted were for appropriate items or not. Civil Code section 1950.5., subdivisions (b) and (e) set forth the legal standards of what may be deducted from a tenant's security deposit.

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Answered on 10/04/13, 9:14 am
Edward Hoffman Law Offices of Edward A. Hoffman

Does your lease say you can cancel if you find snakes on the property? Naturally, I'm not saying it should be that specific. But is there language in it that implicitly says you had the right to back out? My guess is that there isn't.

I'm also not sure why you think the landlord has "no right" to keep your deposit. Most lease agreements allow landlords to do that. It's one of the reasons landlords insist on getting deposits. Perhaps your contract doesn't give the landlord this right, but that would be unusual.

The ZIP code attached to your question is an an area where snakes must be relatively common. They don't respect boundary lines. People often find them in their gardens, on their lawns, etc. It's to be expected in rural areas, and even in many suburbs.

It would be more upsetting to find snakes inside the house. Your question doesn't say that's what happened, but maybe it is. Even then, it wouldn't necessarily mean the landlord breached the lease or that you were entitled to cancel. If the snakes got in due to a problem with the house, your remedy was to have the landlord fix the problem.

If you didn't have the right to back out of your deal, then the landlord is entitled to make you pay rent until she finds new tenants (as long as she is making reasonable efforts to do so). If she's merely keeping your deposit instead, you're probably in a better position already than you're entitled to.

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Answered on 10/04/13, 10:47 am

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