How to get a deposit back if a roommate is staying after terminating month-to-month tenancy?

I gave my 30 day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy because my landlord told us (verbally) that he was requiring a new lease to be signed at the end of the month. I didn’t want to stay another 6 months so I put in my notice. However, my roommate decided to stay at the apartment. The landlord now is not making her sign a new lease and says that I can’t get my deposit back unless she feels like giving it to me. I would have to wait until she either signed a new lease there or moved out. She is making unreasonable demands to give back the deposit. What can I do? don’t want to wait forever to get it from the landlord.

Asked on July 21, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

In California, there is no such thing as a “non-refundable” security deposit. No matter what it’s called. 

 Within 2 weeks of your moving out the landlord must advise you, in writing, of the right to be present at a walk-through with the landlord. The purpose of the inspection is to allow you an opportunity to repair damage pointed out by the landlord.

After you move out, a landlord has 3 weeks to return the security deposit or send a list of how much each of the damages cost including all receipts.  A landlord can only charge a tenant for unpaid rent and for fixing damage, not normal wear. The landlord has to prove that the repairs are necessary and reasonable and must provide you with receipts for those repairs.

So if all this has passed and there is no return, you can sue the landlord in small claims court for the security.  The tenant is NOT responsible so ignore the demands. Good luck.

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