In California your landlord can only make deductions to your security deposit(or beyond the amount of the deposit) if the damages extend beyond what is considered normal wear and tear. This assumes there is no unpaid rent and the rental unit does not require extensive cleaning. The law in California stipulates that a landlord refund a security deposit within 21 days of the tenant's move out date, or show an itemized list of the deductions. This deduction list must also be provided within that 21 day timeframe.
If something is worn down or has broken from normal use then your landlord should not be assessing these damages against a tenant. If a tenant did not cause these damages and they are not the result of normal usage them they entitled to a refund in full. Things like peeling paint or old and worn carpeting are not the tenant's responsibility. What tenants are accountable for are damages like holes in walls, broken windows, or burns to furniture. Basically obvious damages that were not there when the tenant moved in to the rental property.
If you disagree with the damages your landlord is claiming or if the costs of repairs seem excessive, there are several options available for disputing these deductions from your deposit. Your first option however should always be a well written and detailed letter to your landlord that responds to these damage claims. The letter should acknowledge the receipt of the damages claimed itemization, inform your landlord of the specific charges that you are disputing, the amount of the charges, and why they are in dispute. Even if you dispute the charges via a phone call or in person it is always best to communicate in written form. Whenever money or liability are involved, having a written record(a formal letter) is essential to protect yourself from any future liabilities. Documenting as much as you can is crucial. Also having pictures of the damages in question and of the apartment in general is a good idea if you do end up in court and need records to back up your case.
The HomeTitan Damages Claim Dispute Letter refers to the actual California landlord/tenant law within the body of the letter in order to let your landlord know you aware of your rights, the timeframes, and the potential liability to your landlord (which is extensive in California) as penalty for not returning a deposit in bad faith.
Usually this well written and clear letter disputing a landlord's damage charges is all it takes and a speedy settlement can be reached with no further steps or actions needed.
Always save a copy of the letter(and any correspondences from your landlord) and send it via certified mail in order to possess proof that your landlord has received it and the date it was received.