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Probe: Jan. 25, 2002

January 25, 2002

QUESTION: When we leased an apartment in Brawley, we knew it was over the apartment complex laundry. What we didn't know was the laundry was open 24 hours, seven days a week. People washed at all hours and brought their kids with them.

Long after midnight, kids would be yelling and banging on the washing machines. After many complaints to the manager, and phone calls to the police, the kids found out it was us.

We had many run-ins with kids on their scooters and bikes. They climbed the wall to peer into our apartment. Our complaints were ignored.

Around Jan. 15 we found the names of two of the kids carved on the hood of our car. The kids' parents denied their children had defaced our car.


We had had enough! We called the complex manager's supervisor and told her we were moving out. We would have moved out sooner but we waited until the lease expired.

We asked for our security deposit back but the supervisor refused. She said the law requires 30-days notice to get our deposit refund. We understand that, but why won't she give us our money back for the remaining days of January?

What should we do? — Suffered, Brawley

The law does not say you have to give notice to get back your deposit. It says you have to give 30-days notice or pay for the 30 days. If you gave 15-days notice, you have to pay only for the remaining two weeks.

In any case, the landlord cannot deduct more than 30 days rent from your security deposit.

We don't know the terms of your lease or when it expired, but it may be enough notification to get you off the hook. After all, you agreed to keep the place for a year. You put in your time, and hard time, it was.

Send your landlord a letter demanding your refund (keep a copy). If you don't get it, take your claim to small claims court. Do it now!

QUESTION: Recently I was in the process of buying a house. I deposited $2,500 in escrow. Before it closed, I lost my job and the mortgage company canceled my loan.

I canceled the escrow. When the deal fell through, I expected to get my money back, but no, the seller said he is charging me a $1,000 cancellation fee!

With no job and no income, I need the money. I am a single parent. Help! — Disappointed, Brawley

The seller says he had to pay two or three mortgage payments because you had the place tied up in escrow. He will not waive his cancellation fee, although the title company and the mortgage company waived their fees.

Since you don't agree with the seller's demand for $1,000 of your deposit, don't sign the cancellation agreement.

GASOLINE FOR JUAREZ FAMILY — I am the man who set up the gasoline account for the little girl with leukemia. I set up the account at Sellers Petroleum. The family got a card that's like a credit or automatic teller machine card.

If the people out in Seeley set up the account for the Juarez family, I will donate 100 gallons of gasoline. — Good Samaritan, West Valley

Thank you.

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