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Barrister, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 37854
Experience:  16 years real estate, Realtor. Landlord 26 years
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Hello, I have a question regarding a master tenant/guest issue.

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Hello, I have a question regarding a master tenant/guest issue. I lived in an apartment as the "guest" of another tenant for three years. I was not on the lease. The landlords handle security deposits by having the person who moves into the apartment pay the person who moves out of the apartment. When I moved in, I gave my master tenant $1100 dollars. My understanding was that this money was forwarded by management to the person who had moved out. Three years later, the master tenant had a heart attack and had to move out. The landlord then placed me on the lease. I was told that I could bring in another person into the apartment as a "guest" just as I had done. The master tenant with the heart attack helped me out by only requiring $550 dollars for his return deposit, because the person I chose to replace him was having a hard time and I needed someone to help me with the rent. Therefore I sent $550 to the former master tenant. Five years later, after less than satisfactory living conditions with the new roommate, I had a rent increase and had to move. Keeping with management's policy of the new person moving into the apartment paying the security deposit to the person moving out, I told the "guest" of mine that his deposit would come from the new tenants, probably passed down from the landlord. What this means is that, I as the only person on the lease was entitled to a security deposit of $1100, which is what I paid in the beginning. The "guest" is entitled to $550. When I talked to the landlord about these figures, he claimed no knowledge of whatever arrangement me and the 'guest" had. He returned my security deposit of $1100 and not $1650, which included the "guest" deposit which the landlord required. Now the guest is very upset that he is being screwed and he blames ME. He seems to think that he has a right to MY security deposit. And I have told him that I did not require a deposit, nor did I hold the deposit, but forwarded it as per the instructions of management. This will probably go to small claims court. What do you think?
Hello and welcome! My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.
I hate to say it, but when you took over as master tenant, you became the landlord to any subtenant. So if a subtenant gave you money for a security deposit, you are responsible for refunding it to them when their tenancy terminates or you cease to be their landlord.
What you did with the security deposit doesn't affect your legal obligation to return it to the subtenant if subtenant paid it to you.. Although you might have been just a 3rd party and forwarded the money on to the landlord or the old master tenant, when you took it, you became the sub tenant's landlord. Unless the subtenant has a lease with the property owner directly, they are your tenant.
I am not sure why you would send anything to the old master tenant because the landlord should have dealt directly with them when you were put on a new lease as the master tenant.
So if the subtenant sues you, they will win. If the landlord only refunds deposits to master tenants, then they may have received their $1100 from the landlord as well as the $550 that you sent them. So you will have to sue either landlord or the old main tenant to get your $550 back.
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