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Ask Curbed: How Much Does It Cost To Paint My Old Place?

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Another day, another question on how much a landlord can deduct from a security deposit. We've covered carpet cleaning in the past, now we address painting the place. "Hi, I just moved out of my apartment in Hollywood and when I received my deposit back, I was shocked. They deducted $450 for "Paint & Plaster". I never painted the unit from it's original color, and I had only hung 10 pictures and 3 curtain rods in the 1 bedroom 1920's apartment that was under 600 square feet. I emailed the company and stated that I felt that $450 was way too much and if they didn't provide me with receipts that I would resort to legal action to get my money back. The reply I got was:

"Please be advised that we are allowed to charge for re-painting the unit since your tenancy was less than 3 years. It would be unlawful for us to deduct painting expenses if your tenancy was at least 36 months. This, however, was not the case. When you received your unit, it was in pristine condition. When you vacated the unit there were several scuffs on the wall and holes everywhere you had hung pictures, art, etc. The unit had to be painted and the price you were charged is very reasonable."

Since they charged me a $150 cleaning fee, wouldn't the scuffs in the wall be washable or treated with touch-up paint? And the 16 holes from my artwork & curtain rods, would that fall under reasonable wear and tear or is a hole in the plaster from a picture hanger considered damage? I want to take them to small claims but I want to make sure I have a case. I have no photos and my manager never returned any of my calls when I wanted to do a walk-through or hand in my keys (a big part of the reason I moved was because they were slumlords).

Help! What do I do? Can I take them to small claims?
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