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Way past the "21 day rule" for return of security deposit, being told "check was lost in the mail" what do I do?

Sacramento, CA |

My husband and I moved out August 31st, spent two weeks cleaning it beforehand scrubbing top to bottom to get our deposit back, it is now September 29th, and clearly past the 21 day rule for return of deposit, I called the landlord who said everything was done through 'the office' and called me back saying that 'the office' said they sent the check on the 17th of September. I called on the 25th when it was about 4 days late already (to account for delivery delays etc) and was told if it doesn't arrive within a few days to call back, I called again, now it's "lost in the mail" I can't get it in person, and nobody has said what was deducted either! I called the office and found out they are in Concord, CA way too far for me to get it in person, what do I do???

Attorney Answers 3


  1. Best answer

    Your facts are a bit confusing because it is currently August 29, and you indicate it is now September 29th. Did you move out July 31st, 2012? Or are you referring to the year 2011?

    You will probably have to bring a small claims lawsuit to recover your security deposit if it has been more than 21 days.

    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 Avvo.com posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.


  2. Frank's right. Sounds like they're being dodgy and so you will have to sue them in small claims court to recover your deposit.

    Your argument is that if the check was lost in the mail, then you never received it. Having never received it, you did not cash or deposit it. Thus, you never received your deposit refund. That's not your fault. It's the responsibility of the landlord.

    Kevin King, Principal- Essential Law Services. HTTP://ESSENTIALAW.COM, 415-562-6862. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended and should not be construed as legal advice for a particular case. This post does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author of the question answered. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult with me or another qualified attorney off-site.


  3. http://housing.ucsc.edu/cro/pdf/CCC_security-deposits.pdf

    The bad faith claim or retention by a landlord or the landlord's successors in interest of the security or
    any portion thereof in violation of this section, or the bad faith demand of replacement security in
    violation of subdivision (I), may subject the landlord or the landlord's successors in interest to
    statutory damages of up to twice the amount of the security, in addition to actual damages. The court
    may award damages for bad faith whenever the facts warrant such an award, regardless of whether
    the injured party has specifically requested relief. In any action under this section, the landlord or the
    landlord's successors in interest shall have the burden of proof as to the reasonableness of the amounts
    claimed or the authority pursuant to this section to demand additional security deposits

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