My question involves a security deposit in the State of California.
We recently rented a vacation property in Medocino County, and after we returned back to the SF Bay Area, we were contacted by the owners claiming that we damaged the pool table.
We strongly objected that we did not damage anything, and that we only played pool on the pool table. The owners then sent us pictures of scratches that could not possibly have been caused by our use of the pool table, so we asked if we could return to the property and see these scratches first-hand. The owners have yet to enable us to view the claimed damage.
The owners are still claiming that they will withhold $500 of our $1000 deposit to cover the damage. Our position is the following:
- We absolutely did not damage the pool table
- We have not been given an opportunity to view the damage we are supposed to have created
- The owners contacted a repair company and received a blind estimate based only on their description, no-one in the company has seen any of the damage, either first-hand or via photographs
- We have yet to be given a written estimate detailing the charges
I am very concerned that this is a scam, and that all renters are being asked to pay damages for the scratches on the pool table. The scratches on the table that we saw in photographs looked pretty old, and we are convinced that they existed before we rented the property (hence maybe the reason why we are not given access to view the damage ourselves).
I have two questions...
1. Does the property owner have good legal standing to claim out deposit?
2. Do we have a good case to go to small claims court, assuming that our deposit is withheld?
Many thanks for all help and advice.