How Do I Figure Out The Interest My Landlord Owes Me For My Deposit?

How Do I Figure Out The Interest My Landlord Owes Me For My Deposit?

How Do I Figure Out The Interest My Landlord Owes Me For My Deposit?

I thought this might be a good question for people like me who sublet temporarily in SF for a couple of months to give themselves more time to look for more permanent housing.

I am subletting an apartment in a 5 unit old Victorian in the Mission District of San Francisco for about 3 months from the original tenant who I met off Craigslist.  The tenant was temporarily leaving to take care of an ill family member on the East Coast.  I offered to write up the sublet contract because she was leaving for the East Coast in 5 days and was clearly distraught and still had a lot of things to take care of.

The tenant asked for an initial payment of the rent for the first month and the last month and an additional security deposit of a month’s rent of $1700 (in cashier’s check), plus utilities of about $60 in addition to rental reference and credit check.  She also asked me to include an option in the contract letting her move back in a week earlier and she promised to pay me back the prorated one week’s worth of rent before I vacated the apartment.  She has 30 days to return my security deposit.  She told me some other things to put in the contract about her plants and keeping the place clean and we agreed on the final version over phone and by email before meeting in person.

Before I moved in I asked to meet her landlord but she assured me she already talked to him.  We met the day before she left, went over the contract together and signed it then she gave me her keys.  A month into the sublet I ran into the landlord who was surprised to meet me and asked if I was living in that apartment.  I explained to him that I was subletting for about 3 months and was equally surprised that he didn’t know about it.  He told me the tenant had previously sublet to another people without telling him and he was unhappy about it but that generally she was an okay tenant who had lived there four years.  After some small talk, we exchanged contact information and he told me to let him know if there were any problems or anything that needed to be fixed.

Since that time, the tenant has exhibited more worrisome irrational behavior. 

1.     She called me trying to change the move back date in the contract to a much earlier date (not what we agreed to) and then promised both over the phone and by email to mail me the payment for the week’s rent plus utilities before my move out date in March (it’s been two weeks and I have not received it).  There is a specific provision in the contract saying that she needs to pay me that amount before I vacate.

2.     When we discussed the security deposit she was cagey saying that she would mail it back to me but she needed to hang on to it for the 30 days. Honestly, there is nothing in her apartment repair or otherwise that would be $1700.  I’ve kept everything the way she left it, watered her plants for her, and I don’t use her dishes or cookware because I have my own

3.     When discussing move out the date, she asked me to vacate the apartment and leave the keys in an envelope in her mailbox because she was going to “emotional” coming back to her apartment and wanted to be alone.  I objected saying that I felt more comfortable handing her the keys in person to make sure she received them, also that we should inspect the apartment together before I left so she could point to things that were “broken” she would use the security deposit to fix.  She reluctantly agreed but I have the feeling she wanted to avoid me.

I am worried that she is going to try to keep both my security deposit and also my week’s rent.  What can I do?  Refuse to vacate the apartment until she pays me at least the week’s rent?  Should I ask for a cashier’s check?  Get her landlord involved in this?  If she doesn’t pay me my security deposit what would I be able to do?  Small claims court?

Do I have any rights as a subletter?  What can I do to protect myself at this point?

I feel bad thinking this way but she has given me the impression that she is hanging on to my money because she’s not doing so well financially.  I don’t think she’s working right now.  Of course, I am hoping for the best but in our interactions with each other she has given me a negative impression of her in a short amount of time.  At first, I felt bad for her and thought this arrangement was mutually beneficial but now I feel like she’s trying to take advantage of me. 

Cases like this drive me crazy. It’s not enough that we in the tenant defense business have to deal with unscrupulous and/or uninformed landlords, we have to deal with tenants who decide they own their units and rent them out like landlords.

Master tenants who sublet in this manner rarely obtain the landlord’s consent to sublet. I write thousands of words complaining about landlords who don’t give a rat’s ass about their tenants. It’s always money. money, money, me, me, me.

The master tenant here is no different. She didn’t bother to consider that she could be subjecting you to a costly lawsuit that could ultimately effect your credit rating to the extent that future landlords won’t rent to you, not to mention that this could be a scam. She’s a Bad Master Tenant.

Luckily you’re not presenting the worst case scenario. The landlord could have served a notice to cure or quit alleging illegal subletting. Then the master tenant and you could spend the next couple of months defending an unlawful detainer (eviction) action–a lawsuit that the landlord would likely win. I have to say , your landlord gracefully handled the news that you were the new subletter.

The master tenant is either oblivious to the Rent Ordinance or she is relying on your naiveté. Bad.

To understand the scope of your rights as a subtenant you should first read Rent Board Rules & Regulations §6.15C. The regulation is very specific. Unless the master tenant has informed you in writing, before you sublet, that you are not subject to the just cause eviction provisions of the Rent Ordinance, the only way the master tenant can evict you is by alleging one of the just causes like nonpayment of rent, nuisance, habitual late payment, etc.

Even if you have been informed that you are not subject to “just cause” eviction, the master tenant would have to serve you a 30-day notice to quit.

Essentially, you have obtained most of the rights of a subtenant and you could tell your new “landlord” that you plan to live in the unit forever.

You also have to ask yourself if she’s simply scamming you. Believe me, that’s more common than one might think. Is she charging you more rent than she pays? What’s with the $5,100.00 charge for a temporary sublet? Did she use the dough to finance her trip? Check the Superior Court website to see if she has been sued for this before.

And here’s a thought for you: It’s not usually a good idea to give a stranger you’ve met on Craiglist over $5,000.00 unless the services are performed immediately.

So what do you do?

The landlord won’t want to get involved and he doesn’t have any duty to you anyway. He might get fed up and evict the entire household, but that does you no good.

I think you should simply tell the master tenant that you will move out, if she returns all of the unused rent  including the security deposit. (BTW, Civil Code §1950.5 provides that the landlord must return the deposit in 21 days, not 30.) She needed to hang onto to it for thirty days? Bad.

When you move out, the transaction should be a “cash for keys” exchange. That’s cash or a cashier’s check, not a rubbery gotcha note.

If the master tenant balks, you’ll know she spent your money. As distasteful as this may be, you may have to tell her that she just acquired a new roommate until she pays you.

You can also move out and sue her in small claims court, but the likelihood of ever collecting is small. The master tenant is unemployed and, think about it, her only source of income may be the next sucker she finds on Craiglist.

Why am I so freaking nasty when it comes to master tenants like this? They screw it up for the rest of us. Ironically, whatever the internal justifications master tenants sublet in this manner–ineptitude, desperation or greed–those justifications provide the fodder for landlords to demand the repeal of rent control. Of course, the repeal of rent control would further subject tenants to landlords’ greed, desperation and ineptitude.  Bad, bad, bad.

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This Is Why You Take Photographs At Move In

This Is Why You Take Photographs At Move In

This Is Why You Take Photographs At Move In

My husband and I have been renting a house for 7 years and are getting ready to move.

When we first moved in we had a 1 year lease which of course is now expired, and our here month to month. When we moved in the house had quite a few issues; cracks in the tile on the floor, rooms not painted, the list goes on.

At the time, the landlord refused to do a walk thru with us telling us that she already knew all the problems with the house. I didn’t push it because I didn’t realize that there might be a problem when it came time for us to move out.

The house was built in 1972 and has the original carpet in it, it’s in terrible need of replacement but she won’t replace it. Our dishwasher has been broken for about a year now and her answer to us is that “she will replace it when they are on sale”. I told her that we rented the house with a working dishwasher so replace it or let us deduct rent, no answer on that one.  Well I’m pretty sure dishwashers have been on sale somewhere.

Since she refused to do a walk thru, can we be held liable for the damages that were existing when we moved in? We took pictures of everything right after we moved in and they are date imprinted. We have also painted all the rooms and have done some other repairs for which she wouldn’t  refund us.

As I read through you question the first time, I thought, “Oh boy, this is going to be messy if the tenants try to sue the landlord in small claims court.” That is, until I read the second to the last line. You did the right thing in documenting the move-in condition of the house with photographs.

Ideally, it’s a good idea to try to get a landlord to fill out a move-in checklist. I provide a typical example in my early blog, Grand Theft Security Deposit. A typical checklist can be found here. Even if you can persuade the landlord to fill one out, you should be taking photographs off the unit while the landlord initially inspects. Right then and there, if the landlord has any rudimentary intelligence, he’ll know that it’s going to be tough to screw you when you move out.

Civil Code §1950.5(f) provides in part: “[N]o earlier than two weeks before the termination or the end of lease date, the landlord, or an agent of the landlord, shall, upon the request of the tenant, make an initial inspection of the premises prior to any final inspection the landlord makes after the tenant has vacated the premises.”

Civil Code §1950.5(f)(3) also states: “The tenant shall have the opportunity during the period following the initial inspection until termination of the tenancy to remedy identified deficiencies.”

Although there is no case law on this to my knowledge, I think a tenant can make a strong argument that the landlord’s refusal to do a move-out walk-through estops (prohibits) her from making later damage claims.

The key here (and I know I harp on this almost every week) is to get everything in writing. For example, having an email from the landlord refusing to do a properly requested move-out inspection would, with your photographs, make the case an easy winner.

It is also important to read Civil Code §1950.5 and follow the procedure exactly. That way the landlord cannot later claim that you did not request a final walk-through or that you did not timely request one.

As usual I recommend that tenants, before they give notice to vacate, visit the San Francisco Tenants Union to understand their rights and obligations during the move-out process.

As for your 1972 orange shag carpet, it’s only 40 years old. It’s a classic. You should simply love and accept it these days, sort of like a 1972 Richard Nixon.

I almost forgot to mention that you always have to sue a landlord like this to get back your deposit. But in your case, you should prevail. It was a smart move to document the move-in conditions with photographs.

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How Do I Figure Out The Interest My Landlord Owes Me For My Deposit?

My Former Landlord Won’t Return My Security Deposit Or Call Me Back

My Former Landlord Won’t Return My Security Deposit Or Call Me Back

Here is the situation with my previous landlord:

He gave me a verbal agreement that he would return the security deposit ($1500) to me within 14 days (this would have been July 15) but under the lease he had 18 days (July 19th). Upon moving out and returning they keys he was unresponsive and did not return calls or emails. After almost 2 weeks had passed we received an email saying he found scuff marks on the floors and walls and that he would get back to us soon with how much he would need to withhold for repairs.

Given these scuff marks pre-dated our time in this apartment, we sent photographs (with time stamps proving the date the photos were taken) that indicated the poor condition of the floors and scuff marks on the walls and also reminded our landlord about the normal wear and tear clause of the lease and cited several articles that point out that scuff marks fall into this category.

We sent these emails to him on July 12, responding immediately to his email about the scuff marks. We have not heard from him since. On July 19th when neither the security deposit nor the balance of the deposit with an itemized list of repairs was returned, I called Reginald to inform him that since the deposit had not been returned we were taking action to file a claim in small claims court but that we would prefer to settle this out of court.

He did not answer, so I left him a message with these details. I called him again the following day (from a different phone in case he was screening our calls) and left him another message with the same details. On July 20th my roommate and I drafted a formal demand letter (based on advice from the SF tenants rights website) and mailed him a hard copy via certified mail.

In this letter (attached) we gave him until August 4th to return the security deposit (which we would expect in full or very nearly full since the damage was not due to us). We said if he doesn’t return the deposit, we would sue him for the $1500 deposit plus an additional $1500 for illegally withholding the deposit.

Given his unresponsiveness, we don’t expect to hear from him (although we know the letter was signed for and received) and are expecting we will have to take him to court. Any advice you could give on our situation is greatly appreciated.

We are also worried that the landlord may be bankrupt or insolvent – our neighbors informed us they received a notice that he was $826,000 in debt on out building and to not pay him any money. Is there anything we can do if this is the case? Or do we just have to give up on our deposit?

The only mistake you made (besides renting the apartment from this schmuck in the first place) was that you misquoted the statutory damages in your letter. You should sue the landlord for $1,500.00 plus $3,000.00 in statutory damages (California Civil Code § 1950.5(l)) because he withheld your deposit in bad faith. In many cases a small claims court will not award the statutory damages for one reason or another, but in your case the facts, as you state them, prove that the landlord refused to return the deposit based on a pretext that was a lie.

Sue him for $4,500.00. Don’t worry collecting the money. That part comes after you get a judgement. BTW, the small claims limit in California just increased to $10,000.00.

Pick up a copy of Everybody’s Guide to Small Claims Court in California, by Ralph Warner,  Nolo Press. You can find Nolo Press Guides in most larger bookstores or buy one online from the publisher.

If the landlord files for bankruptcy after you get a judgment, California Civil Code §1950.5(d) states, “Any security shall be held by the landlord for the tenant who is party to the lease or agreement. The claim of a tenant to the security shall be prior to the claim of any creditor of the landlord.As I pointed out in an earlier “Tenant Troubles,” your claim goes to the top of the list in bankruptcy court.

The Tenants Union website is a great resource, but nothing beats bringing your documents to them and getting live counseling from a well-informed volunteer.

Jeez, Louise, if every tenant in California wrote to his or her state legislators every frickin’ time a landlord ripped off a security deposit, maybe, just maybe, the law could be re-written to reflect proactive preventions enacted by many other states.

So try this readers, paste this article into an email and demand all of my proposed changes to the law (except the small claims limit increase), and send it to: Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, Fiona Ma, and Leland Yee.

Call the Tenant Lawyers now for a free consultation.
(415) 552-9060

How Do I Get My Deposit Back If My Building’s In Foreclosure?

How Do I Get My Deposit Back If My Building’s In Foreclosure?

How Do I Get My Deposit Back If My Building’s In Foreclosure?

My partner and I live in a non-rent-controlled unit (built in 2002, a single unit in a large condominium complex) in San Francisco for two years. After the first year, our lease defaulted to a month-to-month tenancy. Several months ago, our landlord let us know that he was fighting foreclosure and attempting to have his mortgage restructured.

We have kept in touch with him since then, checking to make sure that he is still the owner and that we should, in fact, send our rent checks to him. He let us know prior to the first of July that he was definitely going to be foreclosed, and he was awaiting some kind of bankruptcy ruling “any day now”. He also let us know that he would be leaving the country for several months and that we should send our rent checks, addressed to him, to his relative’s address. He also instructed us to seek tenancy assistance or maintenance from his real estate broker, with whom we worked when we first moved into the unit.

I am worried that the ownership is going to change and we won’t be notified. Should we just keep paying rent to the landlord, even though it seems like the fate of our unit is in limbo? What rights do we have as tenants? Also, how on earth are we going to get our security deposit back?

This is a confusing issue for tenants. No doubt you’ve heard stories about tenants who continue to pay rent to a defaulting landlord only to be socked with a three-day notice to pay or quit from the bank who took over six months ago.

You won’t necessarily be noticed about a change of ownership when a property is foreclosed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find out. Notices of default and foreclosure sales are a matter of public record.

In San Francisco you can check property records online at the Assessor-Recorder’s website. Property records are now managed by CRiis.com. There is no input on the site for addresses so I suggest you get the APN (Assessor’s Parcel Number, comprising the lot and block numbers) from the SF Assessor-Recorder’s website.You can check the status of the unit from time to time. You should also know that the there is a backlog inputting the latest information. If you think you need up-to-date records , you should probably visit the Assessor Recorder’s office at City Hall.

Absent evidence that the landlord is not the owner of the property, keep paying your rent to him. Get receipts and/or send the rent via certified mail. Lately I’ve been hearing from tenants who stop paying rent when they find out the landlord has defaulted. They don’t pay after service of a three-day notice and find themselves in a losing unlawful detainer lawsuit.

Your rights without rent control are diminished significantly, but you do have Rent Ordinance §37.9D. Essentially the ordinance provides that you cannot be evicted by person or entity who took title through foreclosure, except by one of the 15 “just causes” of the Rent Ordinance. It also requires the person or entity who took title to notify tenants of that fact within 15 days.

The banks and owners will all tell you that your security deposit is, poof, gone, up in smoke. Not true. California Civil Code §1950.5 is clear on this point. I should say clear for lawyers. It’s actually pretty convoluted.

Essentially Civil Code §1950.5(h) provides a process by which the landlord either transfers the security deposit to the new owner or returns the deposit minus any deductions to the tenant. If that doesn’t occur, and it never does in a foreclosure, Civil Code §1950.5(j) is clear: “In the event of noncompliance with subdivision (h), the landlord’s successors in interest shall be jointly and severally liable with the landlord for repayment of the security[…]” You may have to sue both the landlord and the bank, but the bank is on the hook.

So, if you check the property records on a regular basis and continue to communicate with the landlord’s agent, you should be fine for awhile. Frankly, if I was in your situation, I’d start looking for a new, rent-controlled, unit.

For a more comprehensive evaluation, go to the San Francisco Tenants Union.

Call the Tenant Lawyers now for a free consultation.
(415) 552-9060

Surprise! You’re Not Getting Your Deposit Back!

Surprise! You’re Not Getting Your Deposit Back!

Surprise! You’re Not Getting Your Deposit Back!

I moved out of an apartment last June 30th. My former landlord’s representative did a walkthrough on June 16th and said everything was ok.

I had the carpet cleaned per my lease agreement and submitted proof.

On July 22nd I received a letter saying they were keeping my security deposit, the letter is dated one day after the deposit was due. They cited damages to the apartment for the deductions and even tried to tell me I owed them money. I was never given an opportunity to correct any problems and never provided with receipts for repairs.

I have been busy with other matters and am now ready to devote some time to this, if it’s not too late.

So, is it too late and do you think I have a case?

If the landlord’s representative did a walkthrough and did not note any repairs that needed to be made to recover the security deposit, you should have a slam dunk winner, right? Unfortunately the answer is, as usual, maybe.

Civil Code §1950.5(f)(1) requires the landlord to notify a tenant of her right to an inspection no more than two weeks before move out. It also provides the procedure for an inspection.

Civil Code §1950.5(f)(2) states “Based on the inspection, the landlord shall give the tenant an itemized statement specifying repairs or cleaning that are proposed to be the basis of any deductions from the security the landlord intends to make […]”

First, you must be prepared to prove that the inspection took place. Hopefully, you saved correspondence about the proposed inspection or copies of a notice to enter for the inspection.

If you get lucky, the landlord’s agent will sign a declaration that he told you everything about the apartment was in order at the inspection. Occasionally, tenants can procure this type of testimony because the (former) representative is fed up with the landlord. Remember landlords who don’t refund security deposits don’t pay their other bills either.

More often the landlord or his representative will show up at the small claims hearing and deny that the inspection ever took place. If you don’t have evidence of the inspection, that could be a problem.

As you probably know, I think it’s very important to have photographic evidence of the condition of the unit when you vacated. Certainly your testimony and that of your witnesses is admissible, but you know the old saw about a picture being worth a thousand words.

The statute of limitation to sue a violation of Civil Code §1950.5 is the same as the limitation for suing under a contract–two years for an oral lease and four years for a written lease. You still have time to sue. I suggest you do it sooner rather than later.

As with all small claims cases, you are required to first write the landlord a demand letter. In your letter, firmly point out how you can prove the landlord violated the law. Remind him that you will be suing for you deposit plus the statutory damages.

In your case it sounds like you will be asking for your entire deposit plus double your deposit in statutory damages (just treble you deposit.) If that amount is more that the small claims jurisdictional limit ($7,500), tell the landlord you will sue him for $7,500.00 if he doesn’t pay in, say five days.

Now it’s time for me to remind you to take all of your documentation to the San Francisco Tenants Union and discuss you case with a tenant counselor.

Call the Tenant Lawyers now for a free consultation.
(415) 552-9060

My Landlord Filed For Bankruptcy, Is My Deposit Gone Forever?

My Landlord Filed For Bankruptcy, Is My Deposit Gone Forever?

My Landlord Filed For Bankruptcy, Is My Deposit Gone Forever?

Ran across an article of yours that is similar to my problem, only real difference is that I know for sure my old landlord, has filed for bankruptcy and the case is active. After he did not return my security deposit after I moved out, I sued him in small claims court and the hearing date has been scheduled.

After the landlord was served, he wrote a letter to the judge asking for the case to be dismissed because he filed for bankruptcy, and therefore isn’t responsible for his debt to me. The hearing is still set, though.

My question to you, is there anything else I can do to get my money back from him? I’ve contacted the trustee only for them to tell me to get some legal council. They shut me down right away and told me to file as a creditor.

Is there a right question to ask them? The thing is, I don’t believe I am actually a creditor because I did not loan money to the landlord. The landlord is not supposed to spend that money unless damage is done by me. No damage was done and he never gave me a letter stating damage was done.

Honestly, I’m not really sure what my rights are, as I’ve never been in a situation like this before.

Can the judge still find my landlord guilty and require him to pay me or will the judge throw the case out? What are my rights? Anything I can do to improve my case? Maybe quote some civil code to the judge?

I’m a little out of my depth here. Bankruptcy law is as complex as San Francisco landlord/tenant law. You might do well to consult a specialist or, at the very least, read a do-it-yourself bankruptcy book like the various offerings at Nolo Press. Please read my disclaimer below and proceed to read this at your own risk.

Bankruptcy law provides an “automatic stay” of any proceedings to create or enforce a judgment after the “debtor” has filed for bankruptcy. I can’t see anything in the long list of exceptions that could exempt your claim, but remember, I’m not a bankruptcy lawyer.

That means that the judge in your small claims case should take the case off calendar until you move the bankruptcy court to lift the stay. If you decide to do that, you really will need to consult a bankruptcy lawyer.

I would still attend the hearing and see what happens. I think it is highly likely that the judge will table the case. If she asks you to present evidence and eventually rules in your favor, I still think the judgment could be voided. You couldn’t collect it anyway because you will still have to deal with the bankruptcy court.

So why bother to go? You may be able to get some information from the judge’s comments. In the unlikely event the judge rules in your favor (in a written judgment you will receive after the hearing), you may be able to use that when you present your case to the bankruptcy court.

Remember that you can ask for two times the security deposit as statutory damages if the landlord, in bad faith, fails refund the security deposit. (California Civil Code §1950.5(l)) If the small claims judge finds that the landlord owes you statutory damages, you could show that to the bankruptcy court to justify claiming three times your deposit. I don’t know if this will work but it’s worth a shot.

The good news is that California Civil Code §1950.5(d) states, “Any security shall be held by the landlord for the tenant who is party to the lease or agreement. The claim of a tenant to the security shall be prior to the claim of any creditor of the landlord.”

That’s about as clear as a law can get. I read it as meaning that you go to the top of list of creditors and that your claim has priority over anybody, including a foreclosing bank. I also think the law implies that your landlord retained your deposit in bad faith.

You are a creditor for purposes of bankruptcy proceedings. As you can see, the law recognizes that you are more than a creditor in that the landlord misappropriated (stole) your money. Regardless of the outcome of the small claims case, you should file as a creditor with the bankruptcy court. You should do that immediately!

Call the Tenant Lawyers now for a free consultation.
(415) 552-9060

Losing Your Security Deposit For Subletting?

Losing Your Security Deposit For Subletting?

Losing Your Security Deposit For Subletting?

I started subletting a room in an apartment in June. The lease was up this October. A week before I was due to move out, the landlord (who I had never met) showed up in my room at 8:30 in the morning, surprised as to who I was. Turns out the girl I was subletting from (who was on the lease) wasn’t allowed to have subletters. But she never told me that!

Now she told me “we” might not get our security deposit back. I feel like I should get my portion back as I was unaware that I wasn’t allowed to sublet. I’d even take her to small claims court. Do I have any legal claim to my security deposit, or is it my fault for assuming she was allowed to sublet if she was posting ads for subletters on craigslist?

The fact that you were, arguably, an illegal subletter has absolutely nothing to do with your security deposit.Your (and your roommate’s) security deposit is just that–a deposit held by the landlord from which to deduct damages in the unit, caused by tenants, that exceed “normal wear and tear.” The landlord can also deduct unpaid rent from the deposit. This is clearly spelled out in California Civil Code §1950.5.

This could be a ploy by the landlord to keep your security deposit. I believe that the illegal retention of security deposits by landlords is simply theft. I also think that landlords could be bilking tenants to the tune of tens of millions of dollars a year in California. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the landlord is trying to use this as an excuse to keep your dough.

Hopefully, you and your roommate have taken some precautions to prove that you deserve the return of your security deposit when and if you have to take the landlord to small claims court. You can find a list of them in my blog post, “Grand Theft Security Deposit.”

If you have to take the landlord to court and he offers up the lame excuse that he kept the money because you were an illegal subletter, boom (the sound of a righteous gavel), case closed. It is more likely that the landlord will say you damaged the premises in ways that exceeded the scope of normal wear and tear. That’s why it is important to have photographs to prove him wrong.

The landlord may provide photographs of his own at the hearing. Study them carefully. Are they closeups that could be from anywhere? Do they show anything other than normal wear and tear? In a trial we had over a similar issue, the landlord submitted a photo (blown up to 11″ x 14″) of a pubic hair on the hardwood floor. I don’t know if the guy expected the case to be tried by Clarence Thomas, but nevertheless, he lost.

You should tell your roommate not to accept the landlord’s rationale for refusing to return the deposit. Show her this article.

Of course, the other possibility in this scenario is that your roommate is lying to you about the security deposit. I hope that isn’t true, but if it is, you can sue her because she, as the master tenant/landlord, retained your portion of the security deposit in bad faith.

It’s time to start getting all of these bozorific statements to you in writing. Read California Civil Code §1950.5 so you can respond, in writing, with ringmasterish authority. Emails will be fine.

Bring all of your evidence to the San Francisco Tenants Union and ask them to help you begin to prepare for your small claims case.Good luck. Only you can stop grand theft security deposit!

Call the Tenant Lawyers now for a free consultation.
(415) 552-9060