My question involves a security deposit in the State of: CA
This was my first time renting, please don't point out all the things I should have done, I have already learned my lessons.
8/30 - I gave move out notice.
9/22 - Called office and gave forwarding address. At this time I also asked if I could do a walkthrough before I moved out. I was told that walkthroughs were not performed until all of my belongings were out of the apartment and I had vacated the unit.
9/27 - Move out day. After the truck was loaded and gone, I called the office and asked if I could do the walkthrough now that my things were gone. At first I was told no one was there that had the authority to do that. Then I was told someone was coming, then that they were too busy. Finally, the Asst. Manager came out, spent like 2 minutes looking at the apartment, said it was fine and that I would probably get most of my deposit back. I asked for this is writing and she refused. It occured to me that I should take pictures at this moment but my camera was in the truck and gone. I do have 3 people that can testify to the condition of the apartment when I left it.
10/18 - I get a letter saying I owe a debt of $417. They included the checklist they go through the apartment with. But it isn't filled out correctly, they have codes to indicate work done/needed that weren't used. And the areas where they were supposed to write in costs was left blank. So basically I have something that says: living room - carpet clean, kitchen floor - torn, walls - paint, bathtub - dirty, toilet - dirty, etc. And the handwriting is terrible so I couldn't sort out everything it said until I showed it to other people. This letter was not sent to the address I gave them and was delayed in the mail 10 days.
10/21 - I sent a letter saying that I wasn't going pay anything until I was sent some kind of itemized list showing what exactly I was being charged for, plus receipts, and proof that the work was actually necessary. It was certified and I received the signed return receipt on 10/25.
11/5 - Having received no response I sent a second letter demanding the return of my $425 deposit no later than 11/14 since they have not furnished me with any further information about this bill. This was also certified and I received the signed card on 11/10.
11/7 - I receive a letter from the collections department of the development company saying that my file is being sent to an outside collection agency. It obviously isn't a response to either of the letters I've sent. I also received a refund from the water company for my final bill because apparently the apt. complex paid this out of my deposit. This was nowhere in the first letter which makes me suspicious of what else they are charging me for.
11/15 - I have received no response and still do not know what this bill is actually for.
I understand that I'm going to have to take them to court to resolve this but I have a few questions. Am I allowed to sue for the costs of travelling back to take care of this; I have moved over 400 miles away and it's probably going to cost me about $200 to get back there for a court case. I am currently unemployed and this cost alone makes suing prohibitive, especially if I have trouble collecting on a judgement.
Also, what happens if they suddenly come up with receipts in court. Can I still be held responsible? The unit was in excellent condition when I left but I do admit to small things like not cleaning the oven, mopping the kitchen floor (I certainly didn't rip it though). Or did they forfeit this when they didn't offer me an initial inspection and then didn't provide me with information about the bill within 21 days of my moving out.
Thanks for your help.