What are my rights if my landlord is withholding my security deposit unlawfully?

I gave notice on the 8th of last month but moved out on the 2nd of this month. I should have still had access to my apartment until the 8th since I was being charged to live there. When I returned on the 3rd, there were maintenance men painting, etc. I no longer had exclusive access to my place. The landlord held an open house on the 8th and rented it on the 12th. She also charged me $100 for window cleaning to the outside windows. I believe I’m not responsible for the elements/weather damage to the outside of the building or rent for from the 3rd-8th. Do I have recourse?

Asked on November 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

In every state in this country a landlord must return his or her former tenant's security deposit within 21 to 45 days after move out depending upon the statutes of each state on the issue.

As to the landlord taking possession to your former unit during the period that you paid rent where painting was being done, you should be entitled to a rebate of paid rent from the date that your former landlord took possession of the rental during the period you paid rent.

As to window cleaning the outside windows, unless your lease agreement stated you are responsible for such, you should not have to pay for it out of your security deposit or for any exterior damage not caused by you.

I would write the former landlord your position asking for the return of your money by a certain date. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference. If not paid by the time requested, your option is small claims court.


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