What to do if a tenant sent a termination noticebefore their lease expiredfor no just cause?

They sent the notice to vacate only 19 days prior to 12/01; they vacated a couple of days before the first and mailed back the keys.Can I retain their security deposit (equal to 1 months rent)? Per CA laws, one is required to complete accounting in 21 days. I want to wait to sue them for calculated damages through the lease term but at least want to withhold the security deposit at the very least.

Asked on December 5, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California


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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A security deposit is for damages that can be incurred in the apartment and not for rent.  Most states absolutely forbid you even allowing a tenant to use it as the last month's rent.  So you can not do so if you are holding it for rent.  If you are holding it for damages then you seem to know what to do here and the 21 day rule, so to speak, for and that it is generally used for damages over and above the "normal wear and tear."  So here is what I would suggest.  I would suggest that you go and seek help from an attorney to sue them for breach of their lease (which is what I am gathering from this question) and as to the security deposit. Good luck. 

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