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Landlord not returning deposit 60+ days

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  • Landlord not returning deposit 60+ days

    CA renter. Moved out 60 days ago. Left home immaculate. Owner came for inspection when we returned keys. After 3 weeks, and no return of deposit, I emailed owner. Deposit owed is over $3000.00. Owner says via email that check is now in the mail, but it is way past reasonable time for mail delivery. 60 days and counting since we moved out. I want something much stronger than a victory in small claims court. We took photos of how good we left the home. Can we put a lien on owner's property for money owed + legal fees? I think a victory in small claims court will yield us no real money. Thank you.

  • #2
    Re: Landlord not returning deposit 60+ days

    Small claims is best; you will be able to collect.

    See also]...court judgment

    It helped me.


    • #3
      Re: Landlord not returning deposit 60+ days

      I would locate his home address, go visit him at dinner time and ask him to put a check in your hands. Videotape it. Be very polite and tell him that obviously it got lost in the mail so he needs to write you a check right then and there. His reaction on videotape will be great in court.


      • #4
        Re: Landlord not returning deposit 60+ days

        Do not go to his home! This is asking for trouble. Especially since all you have are e-mail requests for the money. (Not proof in a court of law that you ever asked for the deposit back!) And a videotape of ambushing a former LL at his home could backfire if used in court. You don't need that since CA courts are already tenant friendly. Don't do anything that could upset a judge.

        Send him a written demand letter for all money due you. Send it by certified mail, return receipt requested, and keep a copy of the letter and the postcard that comes back showing he received it. In the letter, demand a refund of the funds within 14 days. State when you moved out and when was the final inspection. This will give you proof that you asked for the money and that you sent him a forwarding address. If he fails to send you the check within 14 days of receipt of your letter, file in small claims court for the deposit and the legal penalties of wrongful withholding (normally 2-3 times the deposit, check on your state's law statutes to see how much it is there). Once you have the judgement against him, have it recorded by the clerk of court. This will affect his credit report greatly. Then file to garmish his wages or place a lien against his personal property. Good luck.


        • #5
          Re: Landlord not returning deposit 60+ days

          Originally posted by aiza View Post
          Have you checked your lease? There are usually clear terms stated in the lease regarding the security deposit. In the States, my places have "Landlord/Tenant" offices that help tenants in situations like this. Check on that in your area. In the U.S. some places to have a time limit and others do not.
          CA law requires return of any unused portion of the security deposit, along with an itemized list of deductions (along with receipts/invoices showing payment) within 21 days following move-out. What tenant should have done at the 60-day mark is file suit in Small Claims court to demand the security deposit, along with statutory penalties. (See California Tenants - California Department of Consumer Affairs for more information on how security deposits are handled for CA tenants.)
          "If it ain't in writing, it never happened."
          "A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part."
          "You can never make the same mistake twice, because the second time you make it, it's not a mistake, but a CHOICE."


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