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If I don't give 30 days for the home I rented, can they keep my security deposit?

Duarte, CA |

I was under a lease for one year and at the end wanted to move. I gave notice and the landlord begged me to stay, I agreed but signed no new lease or rental agreement. I recently moved and was only able to give 8 day notice. there was no damage to property and I left it extremely clean. They refused to give me my deposit stating they used it for rent. The problem is the security was not for rent. can they do this?

Attorney Answers 2


Under Civil Code 1950.5, the security deposit can be used for unpaid rent, cleaning and repairs for damage beyond normal wear and tear. Further, the landlord is supposed to return your security deposit within 21 days of termination of the rental agreement and provide an itemized breakdown of any deductions, including receipts for any materials or third party services plus the hours and rates for the landlord's employees used. If the landlord retains your security deposit in bad faith, you can recover treble damages. In this case, your landlord should pro-rata your rent for the month, so you should not have to pay for eight days rent since you gave some notice.

If the landlord fails to comply with Civil Code 1950.5, the landlord is required to refund your entire deposit. Granberry v. Islay Investments, 9 Cal.4th 738, 745 (1995). However, the landlord can still sue you for damages to the property and/or unpaid rent.

Ultimately, the landlord fails to refund your deposit, you may have to sue the landlord in small claims.

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Yes. Since you became a month to month tenant following the expiration of your fixed term lease, you are required to provide 30 days written notice to the landlord. If you fail to do so, the landlord can apply the security deposit to pay for unpaid rent pursuant to Civil Code section 1950.5. Rent that is/was due for the 30 day period is considered unpaid rent.

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

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