As moving day approaches, there tend to be plenty of posts on the wiki and on the UCDavis Livejournal about unscrupulous landlords illegally retaining security deposits. While this practice serves to inform other tenants of potential problems, it is biased against property management firms and landlords because we only see complaints, and never hear the positive stories. Is there a mass conspiracy against tenants in Davis, or are people just bitter that they didn't get their deposits back? This is an empirical question that the wiki community can answer— you can answer!
For the benefit of your fellow citizens, please document below (1) the name of each place you've moved out of, (2) if you asked for your legally entitled pre-inspection (3) how long you lived in the apt. and how clean you viewed it to be, (4) how much you initially received from your security deposit, and (5) any shady deductions from your landlord, and (6) whether and how you were able to recover those deductions. At the end of September, this page will be summarized to identify the landlords with the best and worst ratings, and individual comments will be moved to the appropriate wiki page. Please publicize this page to everyone you know, as the results may help residents save thousands of dollars, and help acknowledge pro-tenant landlords for their acts of good faith.
Common complaints on the wiki tend to be (1) being charged for normal wear and tear, (2) the landlord charging the same amount for cleaning and painting on all apartments, regardless of the actual status, or (3) charging unreasonable rates for services, sometimes without itemized receipts. These violations are illegal according to various laws, and the tenants who are smart enough to know their rights tend to get their deposits back with or without a lot of fighting. It is generally believed, but not empirically documented, that Davis tenants routinely get ripped off because they either don't know that tenants have rights, or are too busy or intimidated to stand up for themselves.
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2007-03-26 11:15:31 When I moved out in 2003, i had not asked for a pre-inspection, and Sterling Pointe Apartments initially kept about $300 of my security deposit, including about $150 for cleaning and money for completely repainting the apartment. I lived there for two years, and the walls were in immaculate condition— we had never even hung a picture, suggesting they routinely repaint and charge the tenants. It took me months of phone tag and direct quoting from a legal brochures before I could convince them to give me my entire deposit back. In September 2006, Greystone Apartments tried to pull the same kind of thing. They told me at the pre-inspection that I would not have to pay for paint. Then, despite not having repainted the apartment for ten years, they charged me for paint. And by charge, they asked me for more money than was in my security deposit! I threatened them with legal action and they eventually caved. —CraigBrozinsky
My girlfriend is going through the exact same thing with Sterling Pointe Apartments. However, they did not charge her for any cleaning, so she should be getting her full deposit back. She moved out at the end of March and still has not gotten a cent back. JimSchwab
2006-08-16 18:24:01 I moved out of Pinon apartments in 2005, I did not ask for a pre-inspection but had a final inspection before moving out. I lived in Pinon for a year and the place was clean. I received all of my deposit back within a month. My suggestion to getting the deposit back is keeping the place clean and tidy. —SimonFung
2006-08-16 19:21:24 Check the page on Renter's Rights for questions. Taking a case to small claims court is not as difficult as one may think. The county offers free legal advice for those taking cases to small claims. —JamesSchwab
2006-09-16 19:13:31 I just moved out of Casitas Apartments where I lived with two others for a year. We did not ask for pre-insepection. Our apartment was reasonably clean, certainly at least as clean as it was when we moved in. Our deposit was $713. We had $275 deducted as an unitemized cleaning charge. No other information was given in our security deposit letter. I would feel a lot better if the cleaning charges were itemized, and I hope to follow up with Casitas to ask them about it. —PhilipNeustrom
Page 50-51 of the document in the "various laws" link above spells out the landlord's responsibilities regarding cleaning charges. Years ago, a building manager threw a conniption fit every time I called for my itemized list of charges. After about a month, the building owner sent me a check for my entire deposit...with no itemized list or explanation. Found out later from the manager's daughter that building owner would give his kids a few bucks to clean and spackle the apts before new tenants arrived, and he kept the entire deposit. —DukeMcAdow
2006-09-16 20:57:01 When my room-mates and I moved out of J-Street Apartments in 2004, we did not ask for a pre-inspection. We cleaned for two days, and received our entire deposit back about a month after we moved. I think, in part, the reason we got the whole amount back is that we wrote down every little thing we could think of on the pre-movein state-of-the-apartment sheet. —AnnaJones
2006-09-22 06:43:38 I just moved out of Pacifico. No pre-inspection, but I didn't ask for one. I lived there for three months and my room was pretty clean. I received my security deposit back in full and relatively promptly at that. —ArianaBrill
2006-09-25 00:53:20 2 years at Heritage House/University Court. I'm a pretty neat and clean person and gave the place a scrub down except for the stove/oven. Two years of baked on grease and everything else was too tough for me to handle. No pre-inspection. Had the final inspection the day I moved out. Couple of weeks later, only had $50 deducted for the stove/oven which I believe was reasonable. But I did make it clear earlier that year that I knew my tenant rights when I had to bust out some codes so they would repair stuff in my apt. Possibly why there were no extra/mysterious charges for me. —JoAnnaRich
2006-09-25 22:29:37 left fountain circle apartments on aug 31, received security deposit sept 25. itemization was generous, received 76% of total deposit. —HuiChen
2006-09-26 13:06:23 Lived in Pinon Apartments 2005-2006. Cleaned up everything nicely before moving out. No real 'inspection' except on move-out day. Recieved full deposit ($300) back with interest maybe a month later. —TravisGrathwell
2006-10-01 09:21:53 Moved from Chateau Apts (230 J Street); we did ask for and receive a pre-inspection; rented for 2.5 years, and we left it extremely clean; we received our entire deposit back, postmarked on the 21st. I am somewhat suprised, since this is King Properties, but I'm glad they did the right thing. Our pre-inspector said that our apt looked great, but stressed that the final decision was not up to her. Krissy does all the final inspections. My wife was present for the final walkthrough, and Krissy seemed annoyed that she was there. She wouldn't discuss her findings at all—just said "Thanks; you'll hear from us." But it turned out OK in the end. We did have our carpets professionally cleaned, as was required by our lease. That made a big difference. —MattJurach
2006-10-24 12:11:13 I moved out of Greystone and had only been living there for a year. Our apartment was definitely clean when we moved out, and definitely cleaner than when we moved in. Our total deposit was $1225; they only gave us back $675. They charged us $200 for "touch-up" painting, $155 for carpets that had no spots or stains, and $145 for "light cleaning". They also tacked on a $55 parking charge, which came out of nowhere! We sent managment a letter and were able to recover it all back except for $155 for carpets, because they claimed that they charged ALL residents for carpet cleaning when they moved out. I know that is bullsh*t, but I was already too tired of waiting for my money (it took about a month after sending the letter and going in to the office to "clarify some issues"), so I just took the money. —GraceTang
2007-02-02 09:02:41 I lived in The Colleges at La Rue for a year (Sept. 2005-Aug. 2006). We got a pre-inspection and they gave us some advice - clean out the tile grout on the floor and the window sills. We did so and even rented a carpet cleaner to get the stains out. I was there when they did the final inspection, and the woman told me on the spot we'd get a 100% refund. We got the refund a couple months later. My advice is to get the pre-inspection and follow their advice. It was worth the extra time on our parts. —ElleWeber
2007-07-10 09:55:53 We lived in Cambridge House in 2001-2002, and on move-out we cleaned up everything and went to the office to tell them we were ready for the move-out inspection. The agent in the office told us that they were going to be cleaning all the apartments and replacing all the carpet anyway, so not to worry about it. Unfortunately we didn't think to get this in writing, and discovered later that they had revoked our entire damage deposit, claiming cigarette burns on the carpet despite the fact that (a) none of us smoked, (b) there weren't any burns on the carpet, and (c) they were replacing all the carpets anyway, thus conveniently removing all evidence.
2002-2003 we lived in Chestnut Place, which was much better about the damage deposit. We got it back in full, minus a small charge ($25, I think?) for leaving large pieces of furniture out by the dumpster (and he had warned us about this in advance anyway). —BarnabasTruman (and Matt and Yev)
2007-08-24 22:49:05 In Regards to Grace Tang's comment about greystone - they have a bad filing system and have charged us for another apartment's parking multiple times. They actually wrote out a parking lease with some other people's names on it for our spots later on and cite that they have not paid. They don't keep track of how payments happen or have any formal accounting system, so if it wasn't too late, I definitely would have disputed that parking charge. They have tried to do this to us twice now, and the first time, I showed them our apartment and parking leases and thats when they realized that it was a mistake. They never bothered to CORRECT that mistake, though, and now we've received the same notice that we owe them for parking. —RohiniJasavala
2007-08-26 21:22:49 We recently moved out of The Arbors. We lived there for two years, part of that time with two cats. Upon moving in, we completed a very thorough move-in inspection checklist, including notes of how the apartment was not clean when we moved in (side note: The Arbors had a different (neglectful) manager then, Karen, the manager now, would never have let that happen). When we moved out, we spent two hard days cleaning everything listed (and more) on the manager's move-out cleaning checklist. At the move-out inspection, Karen (the manager) was very happy with the job we'd done and said we'd get a full deposit refund, minus $95 for carpet cleaning which we knew about in advance because we decided not to clean the carpet ourselves. The check arrived in the mail by the end of the week and it was indeed for the full deposit minus the carpet cleaning fee. My advice: make sure to clean the little things too (tops of doors, baseboards, shelves, etc). —MonicaWilliams
2007-09-01 19:27:35 Just a general question, if you get a move out inspection and they don't give you the form or write anything down, what happens? —RohiniJasavala
That's not good. Did they write stuff down and not give you a copy, or did they not write anything down at all? Without you signing something, it would be very easy for them just to make stuff up, and you'd have no proof with which to defend yourself. —CraigBrozinsky
2007-09-03 10:28:11 A little Hint...As you walk through your new place,take a video cam or take a camera with you and make pics or video of the place as you walk through it.Also write down anything you see to be wrong,needs fixed ect..Have two cpies made up and sign both,you keep one and give landlord one.When its time to move take pics or video again just so you have proof incase you have problems and need to go to court,Remember pics and videos time marked speak thousands of words in court..Good Luck and make sure your place is clean.. —Bobble
2007-09-12 20:39:09 I think the most important thing to have read is: California Civil Code 1950.5 Security Deposits. It's 2 or 3 pages long, and is very informative! There's all sorts of things they're supposed to do. You should have a pre-move out inspection, to be given time to fix anything that may need it. With your deposit, they have to be more informative than "Cleaning: $50". They are required, by law, to give you a copy of the invoice if they used a cleaning service. Or if the maintanence crew did it, they are required to tell you how long it took, and what the hourly rate is, etc. And if you didn't get this info, and you asked for it, they only have 14 days to provide it. Your security deposit...should be sent to you within 21 days! Gah. I wish I could go back in time to when I first moved out of the dorms. So many years, so many places, blah. —EdWins
2007-09-22 17:27:46 I moved out of Greystone apartments and it is now the 22nd and I haven't received anything from them. It was strange, during my move out inspection, the manager only told us to clean blinds and windowsills, our fridge,oven,microwave grate, etc. Then I wasn't even given a written copy.
I will say that when I moved out of Arlington a few years ago, they did give us thorough receipts that had hours worked, who was hired, etc. They still took a good chunk out of the deposit, though. —RohiniJasavala
2007-09-27 18:14:47 I just moved out of Tanglewood Apartments. We cleaned like hell. My dad is a profession carpet cleaner (and since they required professional carpet cleaning —we had to present an invoice—we got that done for free. Thtey still took $115 out of the $600 security deposit to do "light cleaning" on the kitchen and bathroom. The bath tub had permanent damage that we hadn't documented, so they said they had to clean that, and then in the kitchen we didn't clean our oven, so that all together was, according to Tanglewood, $115. I'm just happy to get something back regardless, as Tanglewood (I guess by that I mean the management) has always struck me as a place that wouldn't mind taking advantage of students.
I don't if it's legal or not, but their "security deposit brochure" lists all sorts of "flat fees" for cleaning apartments. They don't seem to take into account any sort of difference. If you get a light cleaning (no matter what that means) its $115. So, there you have it, my Tanglewood experience. —ZackFrederick
2008-02-03 14:20:29 I moved out of a duplex managed by King Properties. We lived there 2 years, and they tried to keep $1,000 of the security deposit. They charged for EVERYTHING, including painting (although the place had not been painted in 6+ years), and also charged $500 for cleaning. When we moved in, the place had not been cleaned (the carpet hadn't even been cleaned), and we had a cockroach, rat, and bee infestation (the yard maintenance crew would not do any work for a month until the bees were taken care of). We had to clean the entire place upon move-in, and I took before and after pictures and noted everything on our move-in checklist.
When we moved out, I requested a move-out inspection, which they scheduled a month before we moved. I pointed out that we wouldn't have anything moved out yet, and they said that was ok. Their move-out inspection consisted of a lady coming over (a half hour late), and handing me a move-out inspection checklist. Then she left, without looking at anything. The checklist said basic things: clean your place, clean the oven, mop the floors, etc.
When we moved, we had been living without a heater for a year (they kept trying to fix it, but it never worked), I had to have my treadmill motor replaced because a rat had peed on it, and we also made a lot of upgrades to the place (my fault for not documenting the repairs, although we did document everything else). We were very clean, we didn't smoke, we hung about 3 things on the wall, and we left the place in great condition.
I disputed the charges, and got around $500 of the $1000 back, but after the initial refund they stopped responding to all further correspondence. I just let it go because I had graduated and started working, and I was too busy to keep at it. I still feel pretty ripped off, and as a Davis homeowner, I will never hire that company to manage any of my properties. I firmly believe they take advantage of students, who are unaware of their rights. —AmyG
2008-09-08 11:07:35 Does anyone have any information on "passing down" apartments? We recently moved into one that was really dirty. The landlords I believe are not returning the deposit to the previous folks - but we have already paid our deposit (before finding out the place was in bad shape). So not sure now what will happen to our money - landlords aren't cleaning /fixing the place so we are... —johnsonpad
2008-10-06 18:50:01 Cambridge House tried to charge me the pet security deposit I paid as a "pet fee" which is illegal. They also didn't post-mark my deposit within the legally required twenty-one days. After politely explaining why I deserved my full deposit back, I stated that I would take the case to small claims court immediately, if I did not get the full deposit back. Long story short, they sent my full security deposit back within a week. I highly recommend resorting to small claims court if you were treated wrongly by your past apartment as most places do this. See my full post on Cambridge House's wiki page for the full story. —DaveCar
2008-10-06 19:14:39 Place: The Willows
Asked for pre-inspection - was told that there was very little that I had to do
Lived there 1 year
Received 100% of it back without any problems
No deductions to recover, so did not recover anything
I was described as having the apartment in the best condition that the managers had ever seen... :-)
2010-09-29 13:50:06 I lived for one year with two roommates at 1352 Drake Drive, Apartment #C, managed by Sindy Cagley of Cagley Enterprises. We received the apartment in an unclean condition, carpets needed to be vacuumed and walls washed. We did a walk through with Sindy when we arrived. Upon our leave from the apartment, Sindy deducted $120 from our $500 security deposit for carpet cleaning (even though we had vacuumed 3 hours earlier!), a "dirty" patio (even though our lease determines that outdoor facilities are the owner's responsibility), and "crumbs" under the microwave and in the kitchen drawers. We believe these charges were entirely inappropriate. —TylerRobinson
2011-06-12 08:25:35 Last year, I transferred to a larger apartment in Casitas. I got my full deposit back from the first apartment without any deductions. I lived there for a little over a year. It was a lot of real elbow grease and great attention to detail that probably got my deposit back in full. It was very nice to see hours of work pay off. The inspector was very impressed. —RyanMikulovsky
2011-08-31 10:39:13 i got a question: i got my full security deposit back, because it was my second year in the complex. How can they charge for cleaning the aprt if i got the deposit back alreay? can they take it straight from my bank ? —Alekhine
In general, no. You'd have to give them a check or some other method of payment for them to take money from your bank (otherwise you could go around taking money from other people's bank accounts too). That is why they took the deposit. They can bill you if there is more than normal wear and tear to the apartment (usually mentioned in your lease). After a certain amount of time, it is assumed they will simply repaint the walls and replace the carpet (generally the latter after more than just two years). Basically, you've been there long enough and been inspected so that they will only go after you if you violate the contract (big holes in the wall, etc). At that point, they are collecting for damage, and it would apply beyond the security deposit anyway: if you trashed the place, doing more than the deposit in damage, they'd keep the whole deposit and also bill you or take you to court for the excess cost. —Evan 'JabberWokky' Edwards