What counts as a written statement for a 21-day letter?

UPDATED: Aug 7, 2012

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What counts as a written statement for a 21-day letter?

I got a letter from my property management when I moved out that just said “sorry but we have not been able to return your deposit due to the nature of the house, but will get back to you soon.” Also, is there a timeframe after they send that letter that they have to give the money back by? They sent the letter about 40 days ago and I haven’t heard from them since.

Asked on August 7, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California


Cameron Norris, Esq. / Law Office of Gary W. Norris

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

They have to give you an accounting of the deposit within 21 days of moving out.  Read CCP Section 1950.5.  That same code section grants a great remedy to renters:  actual damages + statutory damages equal to twice the deposit amount.  So, you could get damages equal to three times the deposit.  Sue them in small claims court alleging breach of contract, replevin, and bad faith retention of lease deposit.  Cite the statutory damages in 1950.5.  The self-help window at the courthouse can help you out.

Best of luck.

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