How canI get my full deposit back from my landlord?

I recently moved out of my apartment. My original lease had a deposit of $2950 but I signed a second lease, and didn’t notice that my landlord changed my deposit to $2250. I never got the difference. I didn’t realize this until I moved out and found the original lease. He says that the second lease is what the law with deal with. Can he really do this?

Asked on September 17, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is free to reduce the amount of the deposit when a lease is changed or renewed--but he MUST return the additional or excess money unless he had one of the two valid grouds for keep it:

1) There were repairs which were made which he applied the security deposit to

2) There was unpaid rent at the termination or end of a lease, to which he applied the security deposit.

Those are the only grounds for keeping money from a security deposit. If a landlord simply lowers the required deposit by $700, he has to return the other $700--or else he's committed theft. You can sue him in small claims court for the money, or retain an attorney to help you. Good luck.

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