Does my tenant owe me money or do I owe her money?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Does my tenant owe me money or do I owe her money?

When I was renting 6 months ago, I was on a lease by myself. I then subleased one of the rooms out to a girl

Asked on December 5, 2017 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) Since she was your tenant at the prior place (you were her landlord) *and* you allowed her to move out early (you in fact asked her to move with you), you do owe that that earlier deposit back: when a tenancy ends (e.g. that that subtenancy of hers ended), if the tenant (or subtenant) did not owe the landord unpaid rent or for damage to the property, the tenant gets her security deposit back.
2) If she owes you rent (hasn't paid for any months she lived here) for the current location, you could do any/all of a) evict her for unpaid rent; b) take any unpaid rent out of her *current* security deposit, if there is one; and/or c) sue her for the unpaid rent.
Each tenancy is separate and must be evaluated, dealt with, etc. separately. They were for totally different units or homes; the fact that she was renting (or subrenting) both from you does not roll them together into a single tenancy.
If she sues you for the first deposit back, she will very likely win and you will have to pay her that money, and likely some extra (generally, tenants get extra compensation when a security deposit is improperly withheld); you could countersue for any amounts (e.g. unpaid rent) she owes you; and what you owe her and what she owes you will be netted out against each other.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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