If my landlord has not returned my security deposit and it’s been almost 6 months, will he automatically lose in court?

In my state a landlord has 21 days to return your security deposit. It has been 4 months. I’ve sent 3 emails asking for it and gave him my new address. I’ve decided to file in small claims court. Will he automatically lose because he has made no attempt to return it? I don’t think he could even deduct anything from my deposit as I left the place spotless and was there for over 2 years. Also, he made me move without a proper 60 day written notice because he decided to rent the house to a friend of his son. My question is will he automatically lose?

Asked on July 30, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

No one can tell you that you will 100% successful in any litigation, even when it appears to be so based upon a state statute.  There can be "mitigating" circumstances in every situation.  Whether or not a Judge wishes to use the circumstances in weighing their decision is another story.  And instead of sending e-mails I would send a letter by certified mail and by regular mail as well.  How do you know that the e-mails were received or were received by him?  I am just playing devil's advocate here.  And I am really unsure that you can do anything now about the improper notice to move since you technically consented to an alteration of the notice provision by moving. Hopefully you have pictures of the apartment the way you left it or witnesses or did a walk through with the landlord and had him sign something indicating that everything was ok absent normal wear and tear (an exit agreement of sorts).  Good luck.

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