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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    3

    Default Security Deposit Withheld - Who Do You Sue to Get it Returned

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: California

    My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: California

    My husband and I were served with a 30 day notice to move by landlord after deciding not to sign a new 1 year lease on a house we'd been renting for 2.5 years (raising rent & didn't need such a large home anymore). At this point we were on a month-to-month tenancy (initial lease was for 1 year). We vacated fully on day 29, landlord requested we meet 2 days later as she had meetings already. She refused at our meeting, to return keys, remotes, etc., to sign any statement we turned these over. The house was immaculate on move out (we have 74 photos of both inside and outside of home). She has been very shady from the start so we took so many photos just to be on the safe side.

    We received a letter 24 days later (already violating time constraint on 21 day law) that not only was she keeping the entire deposit, but also we owed an additional $1185 for supposed damages. There were allegedly 17 items we are being charged for, but only receipts for 4 of these (2 written in her own hand but a different business name on the top of the receipt, signatures are illegible and receipts are numerically in order... dumb). We have photos in defense of any of these made up charges.

    Our question: We have found out she is not even able to legally act as a property manager in CA. She manages 11 single family homes (mostly for people she has met through her husband or former neighbors) in which CA RE law states that she must either own the homes, have a valid RE license and/or work under a RE broker. She has never had a RE license, works under no broker and does not even have any type of business license whatsoever. She does have enough money for us to personally sue her for the deposit and 2 times the deposit due to her fraudulent actions. Yet, we have also learned she and her husband are in the process of going through a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. We don't want to sue her and win and then her to include us in the bankruptcy and we end up with a ruling - but no money back. The actual owner of the home is a local attorney and would have the funds to pay (and knew she was unlicensed). Who do we sue?? Sue them both in small claims so if she includes us in the bankruptcy we can still collect from him? Is the owner liable as he knew she was unlicensed and still used her to do this? I would assume the deposits become the property of the owner as it's their home to repair if it were ever necessary??

    We know we have a strong case, but have no idea who we sue in this situation where the property manager is not legally a property manager and going through a personal bankruptcy (so we may win but get no $ back), sue just the owner, sue them both and be able to recoup one way or the other??

    As a side note: we have already sent, and waited 30 days, a demand letter very detailed and letting her know we would be suing, we have photos, citing state law, she's acting illegally, etc... No answer from her.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
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    98,846

    Default Re: Security Deposit Withheld - Who Do You Sue to Get it Returned

    A property manager is not your landlord. If your landlord won't return your deposit you sue your landlord.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Security Deposit Withheld - Who Do You Sue to Get it Returned

    Thank you for your response, Mr. Knowitall. (love the name, by the way) Just for clarification so we can go forward: would this hold true even though we have never met the owner (landlord) and never signed lease with them (signed and did all payments to property manager, etc)? Ultimately, they used her for their property manager so inherently they hold the blame?

    Thank you for your help.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    Behind a Desk
    Posts
    98,846

    Default Re: Security Deposit Withheld - Who Do You Sue to Get it Returned

    I have no access to your lease but I expect that it identifies the owner, and not his agent at the time, as your landlord.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    Location
    Central California
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Security Deposit Withheld - Who Do You Sue to Get it Returned

    No, the lease states only the fraudulent landlord/property manager as the "Lessor" with my husband and myself as the "Lessee". Not in any portion does it mention the actual owners or anything in regards to them. I do know who they are through property record searches. Our "property manager" used to be a neighbor of theirs, which is how they met and she did the renting of their home. This is how she has met most of her "clients". I do know the owner of our home knew she was unlicensed - as for the 10 others - I don't know if they do or not. Perhaps just using her to save money over an actual licensed company/person...

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