Dita Von Teese Sues Landlord in Security Deposit Dispute

Burlesque revivalist Dita Von Teese on Monday filed a lawsuit against her former landlord, whom she says "went on Mel Gibson-like anti-Semitic tangents, personally attacking [Von Teese's] Jewish managers and business partners" when she sought the return of her $5,000 security deposit.

Von Teese, who lived for four years in the nearly 1,600 square foot, three-bedroom, three-bath single-family residence a block off Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, claimed in the lawsuit that she followed move-out procedure, complete with a final walk-through with landlord Lallubhai N. Patel.

She claims that Patel initially agreed to return the security deposit during the walk-through attended on her behalf by her business manager Eric Foumberg, but later reneged, saying thsome walls needed repainting and all the woodwork needed to be refinished (The floors do look very shiny in the listing photos).

It is very common for landlords to keep all or part of the deposit to repair items that are damaged beyond "normal wear and tear." If you think you haven't caused excessive damage to your rental, see steps that you can take in "Six Ways to Make Sure You Get Back Your Security Deposit."
Von Teese, whose birth name is Heather Sweet, admits that during the lease period she had painted certain walls a different color and wallpapered others but that when she gave her timely, advance move-out notice in April, she offered to restore the walls to their original condition. She claims that Patel initially told her that this was not necessary because he planned to market the home as having been decorated personally by Von Teese. Patel subsequently changed his mind, her suit claims, and asked her to restore the walls to their original condition, which she says she did at her own expense of approximately $4,150. All in all, she says, she left the unit clean and gave all proper notifications.

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She also claims that at one point Patel said that he would return the $5,000 after he found a new tenant, and she said that was not acceptable.

After her deposit was not returned within the 21 days required by California law, she directly, as well as through her managers, made further requests for the money. That was when Patel retaliated with the anti-Semitic rants, Von Teese says.

Two months after the law required the return of the money, and after she had her attorneys contact him, she claims that he finally sent her a list of his costs for repairs, which also included the purchase of a $25 soap dish from Home Depot.

The Craftsman-style house on a private cul-de-sac at 6520 Leland Way appears to still be listed for rent for $3,200 a month, down from $3,600, with the lines: "Completely remodeled" and "Owner very motivated, price negotiable!!"

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