How do I make sure my landlord takes the right amount out of my security deposit?

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How do I make sure my landlord takes the right amount out of my security deposit?

Because of my job (relocation) I am coming out of my lease early. The terms on the lease says that I must pay 1/2 month rent charge for breaking the lease as well as keep paying rent until the place is re-rented. He told me he’ll take all of these out of my security deposit. Since he’s taking it out of my security deposit, what is there to stop him from lying to me and saying that he couldn’t find a tenant and just taking all my security deposit? How would I know when the unit is rented out so I know exactly how much he’s supposed to take out of my security deposit?

Asked on September 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

You ask very good questions for which there is no good answer. Basically, you can use informal sources--if you were remaining local, visit the premises; ask other tenants whom you know what happened; ask a friendly super or office manager in the landlord's office; call up pretending to be considering a rental and ask about an apartment you "heard" was on the market; internet (google) searches), etc.--or you can bring a legal action (sue) if you feel confident enough that you were cheated, in which case you'd have access to interrogatories, document requests (e.g. to get ledgar books), and depositions (which are expensive, by the way) to get information. The former options are not that accurate or comprehensive; the latter are expensive. You may be forced to take this on trust, since the cost of doing something may exceed the gain of finding the truth.


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