If I have overpaid on my rent, can I sue my landlord for reimbursement?

UPDATED: Apr 15, 2011

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If I have overpaid on my rent, can I sue my landlord for reimbursement?

When I first moved in here, I told the landlord that I will be staying for half a year, so he said that since I will be staying for half a year, he will have to increase the rent payment. I agreed to it. However, it wasn’t until recently that I thoroughly read through the rental agreement and found out that it said “Commencing Feb 1, 2011 TENANT agrees to pay LANDLORD the sum of $755 per month in advance on the first day of each calendar month.” I however, have been paying them the sum of $815. If I asked them to give back the money I overpaid, and they refuse, can I sue?

Asked on April 15, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if you overpaid and the landlord refuses to return the overpayment, you may sue the landlord. A lease is a contract; a contract binds both parties; as per the contract, each party must only pay or do what it is obligated to do by the contract terms, and the other party has no right to demand payment or performance outside or beyond the contract terms. Thus, if you have a lease stating that you owe $755 per month, that's all you have to pay; the landlord does not have any right to keep any amounts over that which you paid by accident. It may be worthwhile to be flexible; suppose that you have overpaid $60 per month for 4 months, or overpaid by $240. If the landlord doesn't want to write you a check for that amount but will credit you that for the next month's rent, it would be worth taking.

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