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I'm in California and my tenant just moved out. We found them never clean the premises and found mold in kitchen sink area and bath sink. Am I allowed to charge the tenant for mold cleaning?

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Am I allowed to charge the tenant for mold cleaning?

tl;dr:

It depends :-). You may be able to charge your tenant, but it is unclear whether you will prevail. Do not proceed without specific expert advice.


In general, a tenant has to look after the premises, and if they don't, they are responsible for the damage.

Tenants are required by law to take reasonable care of their rental units, as well as common areas such as hallways and outside areas. Tenants must act to keep those areas clean and undamaged.

Tenants also are responsible for repair of all damage that results from their neglect or abuse, and for repair of damage caused by anyone for whom they are responsible, such as family, guests, or pets.

Landlords' And Tenants' Responsibilities For Habitability And Repairs: Legal Guide LT-8, California Department of Consumer Affairs

So if the mold was caused by "neglect or abuse", then in principle you can charge for the repair.

However: If your tenant does not agree to pay, you will have to sue them, and prove this neglect in court. This can be quite tricky in practice, particularly for mold, because mold can also be attributed to problems with the building, such as a leaking roof or improper building insulation.

You will probably have to obtain an assessment by a building expert, which you will have to pay out of your own pocket (though you can sue to reclaim the cost). The assessment may or may not agree the mold was caused by the tenant's behavior. Even if it does, the tenant may obtain another assessment that disagrees, then a judge will have to decide.

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