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If your lease clearly states that upon expiration of the current lease term you become a month to month tenant with a right to vacate upon giving 30 days notice, the landlord cannot withhold your security deposit, or read into the lease clauses and conditions which are not there. Give the landlord 30 days written notice as provided in the lease and demand the return of your security deposit within 21 calendar days days of your vacating the property. California law provides that a landlord has 21 days to return the tenant's security deposit, or provide the tenant with an itemized list of things which have to be repaired resulting from any damage done by the tenant. If the landlord fails to return the tenant's security deposit within 21 days, California law also provides that when the tenant sues the landlord for the return of his deposit, a penalty of two times the security deposit shall be payable to the tenant.
Be sure to leave the apartment spotless so that the landlord has no excuse to withhold your security deposit. It would also be a good idea to take pictures of all the rooms the day that you leave so that there is no question that you did not create any damage for which he can withhold the rent.
When giving your 30 days notice, make sure you count from the first day of the month. For example, if a tenant wants to vacate the property on August 15, the tenant would have to give his 30 days notice on July 1 at the very latest (not July 15).
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I should have also mentioned that a tenant must return possession to the landlord in the same condition as the property was given to him, ordinary wear and tear excepted. This means that the landlord cannot deduct things like wear and tear of the carpet, or smudges on the walls because that is part of "wear and tear" during the course of the tenant's occupancy and is to be expected.
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