Suppose a tenant T sues their landlord L because of unlawful withholding of T's deposit - the landlord did not follow procedures in charging T the cleaning fee, and deducted $125 without any explanation even upon T's request. T has a case here.

After winning this, can the landlord sue T for the cleaning fee again? He is threatening to counterclaim saying that he has evidence (only after pictures, no before pictures) and roommates' testimonies (but they are also co-responsible for the cleaning) but they are all groundless and he can't prove that they were committed by me. Also, at this point if L files a counterclaim, it will be 30 days after T's move-out. So the question is, if L did not provide an explanation or an itemized list for the charges, can he counterclaim about cleaning?

  • 1
    Of course he can make a claim or file suit. Whether he succeeds is not something we can or will attempt to help you with.
    – user4657
    Apr 2, 2017 at 6:09
  • We don't give legal advice on this site, so you have to revise your question to make it a request for general information on a hypothetical. I've done so, but I have no idea about your circumstances or Californian cleaning fee law so you will probably need to make further edits. You make reference to '30 days' as if that's significant; I wonder why that is; if you know of a relevant law then perhaps cite it to help people understand your question and give you answers. Apr 2, 2017 at 10:01

1 Answer 1


This is not a counterclaim - it is a defence. You say he is not entitled to withhold the fee, his defence is that he is and he has evidence to support this. He is completely entitled to mount a defence.

He is also entitled to make a counterclaim - a counterclaim has noting to do with the cleaning fee. A counterclaim is where he says, for example, "And the tenant owes me $1,200 for damage to the hot water heater." He would need to prove this just as he would need to prove that your owe the cleaning fee.

Typically, these would need to be raised in response to your suit and resolved at the same time. The landlord cannot wait to see if your suit is successful before filing his - that would be an abuse of process.

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