The apartment manager informed the occupants that they needed to live there three years in order to get the deposit back and the rental agreement does not state that the occupants need to live there for three years.
Landlord / Tenant Lawyer
No part of the security deposit can be “non-refundable.” (Civil Code section 1950.5(m)). It is totally irrelevant how long you have lived in your apartment -- 3 hours, 3 days, 3 months, 300 years. If you paid a security deposit and you move-out a landlord (or apartment manager) must return your deposit -- or give you an itemized list of what is being deducted and why -- within 21 calendar days of the date you vacate the premises. Period. End of story. No exceptions.
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Disclaimer: The materials provided below are informational and should not be relied upon as legal advice.
Landlords take security deposit in order to protect themselves against risks of nonpayment of rent, or damages to the rented premises. The deposit is not dependent on how long tenant occupies the premises; if tenant damages the premises or fails to pay rent, the landlord may take a portion or all of the security deposit to cover such damages. Once you surrender the premises back to your landlord, your landlord has 21 calendar days to provide you an itemization of deductions made, and refund the balance of your security deposit to you. Take a look at the link below. Be sure to consult your own attorney to protect your legal rights.
General Practice Lawyer
Neither does Civil Code section 1950.5. Doesn't matter if your there for 3 days, 3 months or 3 years, a security deposit is provided to cover your potential breach, not as a profit center. This landlord needs to be taken to small claims court for the return of your deposit
A proper response would require a thorough investigation into the history and background of this relationship. The information provided above is just that, information, to be used as you see fit.