Can our current landlord refuse to refund by my pet deposit because the amount of the deposit was left blank by the former landlord?

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Can our current landlord refuse to refund by my pet deposit because the amount of the deposit was left blank by the former landlord?

I moved into the apartment 8 years ago, which was then managed by a different company. Last week I moved out but when asking for my pet deposit, after my current landlord dug up my file, he found a pet agreement form which was signed and dated by my girlfriend and I shortly after we moved in. However, the amount of how much the deposit was, was left blank. We didn’t pay the amount which is a bit over $300 in full, instead we made payments on it. We also have a renewal lease stating our security deposit for the apartment and clearly stating that we have 1 pet. What are my options?

Asked on June 21, 2015 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

First, is the pet deposit to be returned to you if there is no pet damage? Check your lease. Some pet "deposits" are actually non-refundable, others are to be refunded.

Second, assuming it is to be returned, then if you can prove the amount of the deposit, the landlord would have to return it. If you have cancelled checks, money order receipts, or the like, then even if paid it over time or in installments, you should still be able to prove that it was paid.

If the landlord will not refund a refundable deposit after you document the amount to him, you could sue the landlord (for example, in small claims court, acting as your own attorney) to recover the money.


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