If I’m suing a former landlord for late return of a security deposit but the lease was as joint tenants with my now ex-husband, must we sue jointly or can I sue on my own?

My former landlord returned some of the security deposit without any accounting and well beyond the statutory 21 day period for return of the deposit. I have asked for an accounting and the remainder of the deposit as I am allowed to do, and put them on warning I will sue if these are not sent to me within 10 days. They weren’t, and now I’m getting ready to sue. However, the original lease was signed by both my ex and me. My ex is happy to sue jointly with me, but I’d rather sue in my individual capacity, since I lived on my own for most of the lease. Do we need to sue together?

Asked on November 8, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the landlord failed to return your security deposit in a timely manner and did not return the full amount with a proper accounting and receipts for such debits, you can sue the landlord on your own in small claims court without the need for your ex husband to join in as a plaintiff for your damages.

As a pre-caution, I would have your former husband assign to you in writing all rights he may have had to the security deposit that you wish to bring a legal action upon. Good luck.

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