What to do if our landlord did not send itemization or refunded deposit within 21 days?

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What to do if our landlord did not send itemization or refunded deposit within 21 days?

We lived in a rented duplex for 15 years and moved out about a month ago. Management was notified in a letter of the end of tenancy and of our new address but it wasn’t sent via certified mail. It’s been 5 weeks since our lease ended. This provides the management a nice cushion for good faith. I have a weak understanding that failure to at least send an itemization forfeits their right to withhold any of our deposit. Can they wiggle out of this (“We never received your forwarding address”)? We have the same phone number but no calls. Should I proceed to write them via certified mail, call, sue?

Asked on September 24, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Under California law (California Civil Code section 1950.5), a landlord is required to return his or her tenant's security deposit within twenty-one (21) days of the move out. If the full security deposit is not returned within that time period, the landlord is required to return a partial amount with a debit itemization of that a portion of the security deposit was used for as well as copies of receipts showing the use of the security deposit for repairs and the like.

Since you have not received the security deposit within the required time frame from your former landlord, you need to write him or her by way of certified mail, return receipt requested a demand for its payment in full by a set date. If not provided, your option is to file suit in small claims court for the security deposit. If the court determines that its withholding was in bad faith, a penalty of up to three (3) times the amount of the security deposit could be imposed against the landlord.

Good luck.


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