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Landlord is not returning security deposit - California (did we lose our rights? See below).

Belvedere, CA |

Deposit amount: $6590

Situation: we moved out but did not provide a forwarding address until 3.5 weeks post move-out. During this 3.5 weeks we were in email communication. The landlord is ignoring our attempts at contact and lives out of the country. It has now been 9 weeks post move-out.

Question: Because we did not deliver our forwarding address until 3.5 weeks post-move out did we lose our right to a full deposit return and possible legal action in this situation? Note: It has also been more then 3 weeks since we delivered the address now!

Our perspective: The landlord has always communicated via email and could have easily delivered the deductions via email. Further, his agent is in phone and email communication with us regularly. There was constant contact in this situation.

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Attorney answers 3


Your failure to provide a forwarding address is no excuse for not providing you with the itemized deductions and a refund of the remainder within 21 days. Because you did not provide a forwarding address, the landlord should have, under the statute, sent them to the residence you vacated.



Thanks! The specificity of what the proper course of action he should have followed is exactly what we needed!


My analysis is that you have not waived or lost any rights for return of your deposit or potential additional damages for failure to provide itemized deductions and return of the balance.

The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advice" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.



Perfect, thank you for helping us understand our rights!

Michael Charles Doland

Michael Charles Doland


Thank you for your very polite comment. It means a lot to the Avvo attorneys.


That is quite a large amount to lose your rights over.

The landlord, under CC section 1950.5 is required to give you an itemized statement as well as any undisputed amount within 21 days of you vacating. If he doesn't have your address, he must send it to your last known address or whatever you put as where to send notices (most leases have that as part of the agreement).

You were also entitled to have a pre-move out inspection, which I don't think you had. Just because the landlord is out of the country does not relieve him of this requirement.

If he withholds your deposit in bad faith, you may be entitled to twice the amount, if you can prove it.

I would definitely either file a claim in small claims court (against individuals it is now up to $10,000) and try to recover what you believe you are entitled to. I hope you took good photos of the premises before you moved out. If not, it may be harder to prove, because as the plaintiff in a lawsuit you have the burden of proof, but that might be overcome by showing that you paid the deposit, and now the burden shifts to the defendant to prove why he should keep part or all of the deposit. The judge will look at the facts and determine if you are entitled to some or all of your deposit, and if it was held in bad faith, may decide to increase it. You may be entitled to attorney's fees and costs, as per your rental agreement. Good luck.

This is general legal advice intended for informational purposes only and does not create and attorney/client relationship. If you wish further advice, please contact an attorney of your own choosing or you may contact me for further advice and make other arrangements including retaining my services.

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