How do I get tenant to pay for their share of utilities once they havemoved out?

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How do I get tenant to pay for their share of utilities once they havemoved out?

My renter moved out 2 days ago. The lease says she is to share 50% of utilities. Haven’t received 2 bills – Electric/Gas and Water/Trash/Sewer. I have a $700 security deposit, but she says it is illegal for me to deduct the amounts from this. What are my options to get her to pay? I will provide copies of bills but don’t trust her to pay once she gets her deposit monies back in 21 days per law. She owes around $100 or more for her share.

Asked on October 25, 2010 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

She is correct: the security deposit in California can be used for limited purposes: unpaid rent, cleaning, etc., but not necessarily for utilities.  You have to return the security deposit here in the 21 days - absent the deductions permitted by law - or you will be the one in trouble with the law.  I know: it is highly likely that you will have to chase her down and sue her under the lease (yes you can even though the lease is up; it is still a binding contract) and it would be much easier to deduct the money.  But you have to play on the right side of the law  Good luck.


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