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What is the proper way to issue a deposit refund with multiple (3) tenants

Portland, OR |

I need to issue a deposit refund for a rental agreement and the three tenants will all reside at different addresses at the time of refund. Is it best to issue the refund check in all three names and mail to one of their addresses? Can I issue one check to one of the tenants? Can I split it evenly OR otherwise and issue individual checks?

Attorney Answers 1


If all three signed the rental agreement, then you likely can issue the refund check to any of them or, the safest route, is to issue one check with all three names on it and mail to any one of them; let them worry about how they split it. I would not recommend your splitting it and issuing three different checks. You presumably don't know for sure if they all contributed to it equally or, if you are charging them for any damages and only issuing a check for the balance, you don't know how they intend to allocate those damages amongst themselves. If you split it equally, you may be overpaying one while underpaying another - and then you could be liable to those underpaid. How it is split is their problem, not yours. Good luck.

Greg Abbott
Consumer Law Northwest
6635 N. Baltimore, #254
Portland, OR 97203
"Practicing Landlord-Tenant Law in Oregon for Over 20 Years"

Nothing contained herein should be considered as legal advice for any specific situation and nothing herein is intended to create a lawyer-client relationship. Every case is very "fact-specific" and persons wishing legal advice on a specific matter should contact me or another attorney for an appointment to review their particular circumstances and to create a lawyer-client relationship. Gregory L. Abbott, Attorney at Law, 6635 North Baltimore, Suite 254, Portland, Oregon 97203. Tel: 503-283-4568; Fax: 503-283-4586; Email: Specializing in Consumer and Small Business Law.

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Gregory L Abbott

Gregory L Abbott


You might also mail notice to the two ex-tenants that you are not sending the check to so they know both who to contact to get their share (the tenant who does get the check) and they know you have complied with your duty to provide an accounting and/or refund within 31 days of their move-out.



Gregory, thank you for your assistance. To clarify, I could issue just one check, made payable to just one of the tenants and not be liable if the other two happen to not get their 'fair share'? (I presume 'joint and several works both ways?) I would prefer to not issue a check payable to all three as I think that would be rather cumbersome for them - long distances - I don't think I can fit all their names on the electronically generated check either.

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