As a tenant, you have certain rights that are guaranteed by law. Unfortunately, some landlords may try to take advantage of tenants by, for example, making unfair deductions from security deposits, charging excessive late fees, or engaging in other questionable practices. If you find yourself in such a situation, it is important to know that you have options. The best way to protect your rights is to speak with an experienced real estate attorney who specializes in tenant’s rights so they can help you navigate the complex legal landscape and ensure that you are treated fairly.
There are many qualified real estate attorneys in San Diego who can provide the assistance you need. However, it is essential to do your research and choose an attorney who is well-versed in landlord/tenant law and has a proven track record of success on behalf of tenants. There are many resources available that can help you find the right attorney for your case. Once you have found an experienced and reputable real estate lawyer, you can rest assured knowing that you have someone on your side who is fighting for your rights.
Read this guide on picking the best real estate attorney in San Diego to determine the best course of action today. If you are ready to hire the best real estate attorney team in San Diego, contact us today.
How the Best Real Estate Attorney in San Diego Can Help
At the law office of Hogue & Belong, we are dedicated to protecting tenants’ rights. We understand the frustration and inconvenience caused by unfair deductions from security deposits or excessive late fees. We also know that landlord/tenant disputes can be complex and challenging to navigate. That’s why we represent tenants in all aspects of their disputes with their landlords. As the premier tenant rights and real estate attorney in San Diego, we are experienced in fighting for tenants’ rights – especially when landlords have taken advantage of hundreds or thousands of tenants in the same manner. We will fight for your rights in order to make sure that you are treated fairly. If you are facing a problem with your landlord, don’t hesitate to contact us for help right away.
Security Deposit Fraud
Many apartment complexes try to withhold and deny returning all or a portion of tenants’ security deposits. While there are certainly lawful types of deductions landlords are legally permitted to make, there are many types of deductions landlords are not legally entitled to make from the security deposit. And, any deductions made by the landlord must be substantiated with documentary evidence expressly required by the California Civil Code (Section 1950.5). Currently, Hogue & Belong, APC is pursuing several class-action lawsuits against large landlords in California based on allegations of the landlords’ wrongly withheld security deposits. Some of the landlords and corporate property management firms against whom Hogue & Belong has brought these class actions for recovery of wrongly withheld security deposits include: Apartment Management Consultants, LLC; Investment Concepts, Inc.; Essex Property Trust, Inc.; Essex Portfolio, L.P.; and Gleiberman Properties Inc., dba MG Properties Group.
Apartment security deposit fraud is a growing problem in many cities across the country. In most cases, landlords require tenants to pay a security deposit when they move in. This deposit is intended to cover any damages beyond normal wear and tear the tenant may cause during their tenure. However, some landlords fraudulently keep most or all of this deposit, even if the tenant leaves the apartment in good condition. In other cases, landlords may charge exorbitant “cleaning fees” or “repair fees.” This type of fraud not only cheats tenants out of their hard-earned money but also makes it difficult for them to find another place to live. And, even where there is not outright fraud or excessive and unlawful charges, some landlords may cut corners by failing to provide their tenants with the documentation (e.g., move-out statements, vendor receipts and invoices) to substantiate the lender’s deductions as required by California law.
California rental law determines what landlords can remove from security deposits. These can include repairs, cleaning, and other expenses necessary to repair the unit beyond normal wear and tear. It also defines how soon they’ll need to return some or all of your security deposit.
Some reasons for deduction could include such items as:
- Physical damage to walls, floors, ceilings, or appliances
- Cleaning charges
However, none of the deductions may be made unless the work was actually done and the landlord provides proof of the work by supplying the tenant with actual vendor invoices and a move-out statement detailing the itemized deductions. (Cal. Civil Cod. 1950.5). If you believe you have been taken advantage of, reach out today for a free consultation.
Excessive Late Fees
Landlords are legally allowed to charge late fees for late rental payments if local and state tenant laws allow this. In California, thanks to Civil Code 1671, late fees are generally defined as liquidated damages, thus are generally illegal, and should be void, unless the landlord can prove that the late fee was reasonable and based on the reasonable amount incurred because the rent payment was late. If a landlord wishes to give you a late fee, they must prove that the late fee provision isn’t void.
If a landlord would like to charge a late fee, the landlord needs to clearly disclose the late fee in the signed rental agreement or other notice at time of executing the lease. It must also state the amount charged and when it will take place. And, the amount to be charged for late fees must be substantiated by a prior study or investigation by the landlord (or someone on the landlord’s behalf), proving that the amount charged for the late fee is reasonable based on the amount actually incurred by the landlord for processing late rental payments.
How do I choose the right tenant’s rights and real estate and tenants’ rights attorney in San Diego for my case?
A good real estate lawyer must have knowledge of local real estate law – particularly those pertaining to tenants’ rights. Choosing a knowledgeable lawyer is important as real estate law varies from county to county and even within a city.
Choose a real estate lawyer with a good reputation and who can communicate effectively with clients. You may also ask them for references or ask about the real estate cases they have helped win. Those are indications of how skilled they are. Hogue & Belong has a vast track record of winning their cases.
It is equally important to choose an attorney with trial experience – that is, experience litigating cases and taking them to trial and winning against large corporate defendants. At Hogue & Belong, our trial attorneys have litigated hundreds of cases and have an extensive track record of taking cases to trial and obtaining jury verdicts for multiple millions of dollars. You can read more about Hogue & Belong’s results at their Verdicts and Settlements page.
Do you offer free consultations?
Yes, we offer consultations to all our clients. If you need help with residential or commercial real estate transactions in San Diego, please don't hesitate to get in touch with us today.
How to Find the Best Real Estate Attorney in San Diego
After exploring this guide, you should have a better understanding of how to find the best real estate attorney in San Diego. Whether you have boundary disputes or unfair rent increases from your landlord, we can help.
Contact us today to find out your options and the next best course of action. We’re happy to answer any questions that you may have along the way. Increase your odds of winning in court by working with an attorney today!