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  1. #1

    Question Retaining Money From a Security Deposit

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


    My roommate and I have a lease on a house (where we also live), and we have been subletting two rooms to two roommates on six month contracts that have just expired.

    We collected a deposit equal to the first month's rent from both, and are not renewing either contract, due to both of them breaking both written and verbal contracts multiple times with us.

    My question regards what is appropriate, legal, and ethical in terms of returning the security deposits:

    Sub-leaser A:

    This person ended up being a fairly violent ex-convict. (Had been to jail multiple times) He punched multiple holes in the wall, regularly threatened to kill people at night on his phone, took an axe to a tree in the back yard, and used our house as a party house for people with similar mentalities. He also used our backyard to have drunken bonfires nearly every night for a month which destroyed our back yard. With the exception of a few times, he did not clean up after his people, and the job was left to my room mate and I for months. This included cleaning up dirt and grass as well as wood debris off the floors of our house, multiple times.

    Sub-leaser B:

    This person lent our property to his friends, broke my bicycle without repairing it, left cigarette burns in our couch as well as the floor (my room mate and i do not smoke cigarettes). They also tore holes in our couch and did not repair them. Our house became a party house for his friends, and among other things that happened, the trash can was set on fire by his friends as well as much carpet damage by the same group of people- alcohol spills were upon parts of our game systems, rendering them incapable of working. Over the course of six months, he did not clean up after his people. Among other rather disgusting things that occurred, he treated our bathroom like a public restroom which he did not clean for six months. This became a nasty health hazard which I cleaned up multiple times. One of the reasons he was selected to live in our house was because he said he would not have people over, but he chose to do this, despite multiple instances of being asked not to have people over. (ex, after his friend set the trash on fire)

    I am wondering if it is possible to keep a portion of the security deposit from Sub-leaser A, and if it would be possible to keep the entire deposit of Sub-leaser B.

    We have a written contract with both that states that had security deposit stipulations in regards to leaving the house in the same condition as it was when they moved in.

    I feel very taken advantage of in terms of being a decent human being to them. All of the belongings in the house belong to my roommate and I, and we were always respectful of their existences, despite of their choices that affected our lives. We also shared everything we had, as we had more to share, and felt that this was ethically the right thing to do.

    What I am most concerned about however is that my roommate and I have spent many hours cleaning up after them and their friends. Is it appropriate to keep deposits not only based on property damage and loss, but also based on the vacuum on our time that cleaning up after them has been?

    I make 40-50 an hour teaching music, and my room mate makes about 20 an hour as a piano tuner. Is it appropriate to consider this when taking into account that I was on my hands and knees cleaning urine and feces of our roommates drunk friends up off the floor, or is it a moot, if somewhat gross point?

    Thank you very much.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Behind a Desk

    Default Re: Retaining Money From a Security Deposit

    Read this. Follow the law and notice provisions.

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