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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default Think Small Claims Judge Used Wrong Date to Calculate the 21 Day Rule

    My question involves a security deposit in the State of California for an apartment rental.

    There are three dates involved:

    Tenant served a 30 Day Notice to Vacate on 3-1-10, responsible for rent through 3-31-10.

    Tenant moved possessions out on 3-15-10.

    Tenant returned keys (giving landlord possession) on 3-23-10.

    What day do you start counting the 21 days to be in compliance with the law?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Think Small Claims Judge Used Wrong Date to Calculate the 21 Day Rule

    this is from:

    Under California law, 21 calendar days or less after you move, your landlord must either:
    I would have to check the actual statutes to verify but to me, I believe the 21 days should start 4/1/10. The lease does not expire until such time and they do have a right to possess until that time. Obviously that contrasts with what the state of California states. I would accept their answer before accepting mine but it seems a bit improper to me.

    using their statement, I would count from the date the key is returned. That is the official relinquishing of the property.

    this is the actual section:

    (g) (1) No later than 21 calendar days after the tenant has
    vacated the premises, but not earlier than the time that either the
    landlord or the tenant provides a notice to terminate the tenancy
    under Section 1946 or 1946.1, Section 1161 of the Code of Civil
    Procedure, or not earlier than 60 calendar days prior to the
    expiration of a fixed-term lease, the landlord shall furnish the
    tenant, by personal delivery or by first-class mail, postage prepaid,
    a copy of an itemized statement indicating the basis for, and the
    amount of, any security received and the disposition of the security
    and shall return any remaining portion of the security to the tenant.
    I would still take it that turning in the keys starts the 21 day period as said before, that is the official relinquishment of possession.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default Re: Think Small Claims Judge Used Wrong Date to Calculate the 21 Day Rule

    Yes that is what I thought too - we used the date the keys were returned (giving us possession) and the envelope was mailed out timely, based on the date that the keys were returned. If we had used the date the 30 Day Notice to Vacate expired, we would have been a week early.

    The tenant took us to Small Claims Court, contesting the charges we deducted due to her heavy smoking and damage her dog caused, but the judge stated the deductions looked reasonable and it helped that we had pictures of everything. His only question before he gave his decision was whether we observed the 21 Day Rule. The tenant kept saying she moved out on the 15th but we testified that we did not receive her keys until the 23rd of the month.

    We received the ruling in the mail and the judge awarded the full deposit back to the tenant plus her filing fee. He obviously used the date she moved out to start counting.

    I am a bookkeeper and process dozens of these refunds every year. I need to be sure I am preparing them accurately so that I can avoid a problem like this in the future.

    Should we appeal?

    Still in shock!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: Think Small Claims Judge Used Wrong Date to Calculate the 21 Day Rule

    Still in shock!
    I'm a bit taken aback as well. Giving up the keys is generally seen as relinquishing control of the apartment. How were you to know they weren't going back in to clean or anything else? How are you to know they have in fact vacated the premises until such time they return the keys?

    Should we appeal?
    that one I can't answer. I think small claims allow a trial de novo (basically a new trial). If so, I would look into the possibility.

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