Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in California

I vacated my rental house on March 30th, 2021. As of this post I still haven't received my security deposit and/or an itemized statement listing any amounts that have been withheld. Also the realtor has made no attempt to re-rent the house (I'm still under a lease). These inactions seem like violations of Cal. Civ. Codes §1950.5 and §1951.2. Should I sue?

Asked on 7/01/21, 11:06 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

Timothy McCormick Haapala, Thompson & Abern, LLP

There is no penalty for failure to comply with the 21 day statement requirement. In fact the burden is on the tenant to send a letter demanding the statement of deductions. If it still doesn't come, or the tenant disputes the deductions from the deposit, then the tenant can sue. The burden of proof, however, is still on the tenant to establish that the amount withheld is more than the landlord is entitled to deduct under the law. Section 1951.2 again is not something that can be violated. It is just a measure of damages for abandoning a lease. It too places the burden of proof on the tenant to establish that the property could have been re-rented how fast and for how much. Unless you can demonstrate that the landlord would have been able to re-rent the premises before your unpaid rent under the lease exceeded the deposit you would lose. And the landlord could even counter-sue you for more unpaid rent if the landlord can show they couldn't re-rent it for some legitimate reason. Lastly, if your lease contained a section 1951.4 provision, the landlord has no obligation to re-rent the property and can sue you for the full balance due on the lease. It shifts the burden to you to sublease the property to pay the rent. They are only obligated not to unreasonably withhold approval of the sublease.

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Answered on 7/01/21, 12:15 pm

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