What are my rights if my landlord is withholding my security deposit unlawfully?

UPDATED: Nov 30, 2011

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What are my rights if my landlord is withholding my security deposit unlawfully?

I gave notice on the 8th of last month but moved out on the 2nd of this month. I should have still had access to my apartment until the 8th since I was being charged to live there. When I returned on the 3rd, there were maintenance men painting, etc. I no longer had exclusive access to my place. The landlord held an open house on the 8th and rented it on the 12th. She also charged me $100 for window cleaning to the outside windows. I believe I’m not responsible for the elements/weather damage to the outside of the building or rent for from the 3rd-8th. Do I have recourse?

Asked on November 30, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

In every state in this country a landlord must return his or her former tenant's security deposit within 21 to 45 days after move out depending upon the statutes of each state on the issue.

As to the landlord taking possession to your former unit during the period that you paid rent where painting was being done, you should be entitled to a rebate of paid rent from the date that your former landlord took possession of the rental during the period you paid rent.

As to window cleaning the outside windows, unless your lease agreement stated you are responsible for such, you should not have to pay for it out of your security deposit or for any exterior damage not caused by you.

I would write the former landlord your position asking for the return of your money by a certain date. Keep a copy of the letter for future reference. If not paid by the time requested, your option is small claims court.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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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