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Can I sue for my security deposit back, when I found out just now, years later that my deposit was never transferred?

San Diego, CA |

In 2007 the property I am renting was sold. The landlord never told me she was selling the property, I found out through the realtor showing up at my door that the house was being sold. When I asked what would happen to my security deposit, the realtor told me it would be transferred to the new owners. After the property was sold, I tried to contact the previous landlord, but my calls went ignored. I saw the realtor one last time and was told that the check for my deposit was written out to the new owner. I never signed a new lease or filled out any paperwork for the new owners. Now years later I asked about my deposit and was told that the previous owners never transferred it and if I was to move I would get nothing, no deposit back. Do I have any action here to get my deposit back?

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Yes. The new owner is responsible for your security deposit whether it was transferred to them or not:."If the selling landlord fails to either return the tenants' security deposits to the tenants or transfer them to the new owner, both the new landlord and the selling landlord are legally responsible to the tenants for the security deposits. If the selling landlord and the security deposits can't be found, the new landlord must refund all security deposits (after any proper deductions) as tenants move out."

    See this link for more information:

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  2. You would likely be able to bring suit against BOTH landlords if origninal owner failed to transfer to the new owner and failed to return the SD to you.

    In addition your present landlord will be required to refund (less deductions as appropriate) the SD when you terminate if the original landlord can't be located. Check with a CA landlord tenant attorney, but you appear to be in a strong position--though I'll bet your current landlord won't be too happy to hear it......

    READ THIS BEFORE CALLING OR EMAILING ME: I am licensed to practice before the state and federal courts in Virginia. We have not established an attorney-client relationship unless we have a signed representation agreement and you have paid me. I give a 100% effort to get you on the right track with your issue. Sometimes that means legal educational information, sometimes that means counseling and non-legal guidance. You should speak with an attorney to whom you have provided all the facts, before you take steps that may impact your legal rights. I am not obligated to answer subsequent emails or phone calls unless you have hired me. I wish you the best of luck with your situation.

  3. Yes, see Civil Code section 1950.5(h)(1)-(2) for the location of your answer. Both are liable, sue them both.

    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.

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