I live in California. I signed a month-to-month, 8-month lease with a woman renting out a room, starting June 5. Rent was $850 per mo. When I signed the lease I gave her 1st and last mos' rent, plus a $350 sec deposit.
She flipped out over a neighbor's baseless noise complaint about a friend of mine playing an acoustic guitar and, 2 months into my tenancy, gave me a 30-day notice to vacate. In her written notice, which was dated July 25, she said I do not owe her rent for August (since I already paid last mos' at lease signing), and said she would in fact return to me my pro-rated rent from August 25, my move-out date, to Sept. 5th (when the lease month I paid for ended.) I assumed this meant I did not owe her any more rent, nor did she state then that I owed her any more rent under the lease.
When I moved out, she returned to me my pro-rated rent, stating that she did not see any damage to my room, therefore I would not owe her any money above and beyond the last month's bills (electricity and cable TV/DSL).
A month and a half later, I had not heard anything from her about my security deposit or bills, so I emailed her. She indicated she was not giving me any money back. I then researched Ca. landlord-tenant law and found out the landlord is obligated to return the deposit w/in 3 wks of tenant moving out. I moved out August 7th. She did not even return my money or send me bills 3 weeks after the date she gave me to be moved out by!
According to Ca. law, if a landlord does not return your deposit w/in 3 wks nor give you an accounting of the money, you are entitled to your full deposit back.
I then sent her a certified letter and an email citing the California law and demanding my security deposit back or I would take her to court. After receiving my email, she then sent me a bill for $184, making all kinds of ridiculous baseless claims--she claimed I damaged her carpet and she also included a charge for $75 to remove leftover food she claimed I left!! First off, she had already told me in an email that there was NO damage to my room. Secondly, I didn't leave food in her kitchen and even if I had, I don't think she can charge for that!!
The certified letter was returned to me as unclaimed. I then filed suit--the small claims case is due to go to court 12/20.
I'm not too worried about my case. I have everything documented in writing. I also have witnesses--former tenants of hers who did not get their deposits back nor an accounting of what she used the money for. This is a pattern with her that I believe proves she acts in bad faith, so I am claiming damages above and beyond my deposit, as I'm entitled to do by California law.
Yesterday, I received a letter from her stating that I owe her $3000!!! She said she is going to claim at court that I owe her rent from August 25th until now!! Is she crazy???
This seems like a retaliatory act or a letter intended to fluster me before the court date.
I am pretty sure, but I just want to make sure that she does not have any legal ground to stand on here.
Thanks for any advice.