How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Tina Your Own Question
Tina, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 33167
Experience:  17 years of legal experience including real estate law.
Type Your Real Estate Law Question Here...
Tina is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Hello, I rented my duplex to a couple who gave me a deposit.

This answer was rated:

Hello, I rented my duplex to a couple who gave me a deposit. they were to move in this weekend and begin paying rent. They signed a one year lease agreement. However, they have decided to stay in their house and have not paid any of the rent, and want their depost back. The rent is $1300, and depost was $1400. The rental agreement did not indicate that the deposite was to hold the place persay, but rather to make sure that all term of the agreement (rental contract), including the condition of the apartment and items within the apartment were in good order when they left. However, I am wondering if I could use the deposit to offset the rent that was owed to me. I am in the process of advertising and interviewing new perspective renters, which is time and money consuming.
What is your advice regarding the deposit.
They are pretty agressive people, and have already hinted at bringing in an attorney.

Hello and welcome.

My name is XXXXX XXXXX my goal is to provide you with excellent service today. I am sorry to hear of your difficult situation. Before I can give you an accurate answer to your question, please provide the following additional information:

Have you been able to locate a new tenant to take possession of the property yet?

I look forward to assisting you as soon as I have received this information. Thank you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks for your swift reply. I am currently interviewing perspective tenants. Just to fill in the time line. The original couple paid the depositi the beginning of October, and were to move in on Oct. 12. On oct. 7th I received a phone call that they were going to stay in their home., and they asked about their deposit. I indicated I would get in touch with them. On Oct. 10th they called me and emailed me numerous times, and finally when I spoke with the husband he indicated that he had waited 72 hours for my answer and didn't know what was taking so long. He was very unpleasant, to say the least on the phone. On Tuesday, Oct. 8 I put the sign back up and have been screening calls since then. Yesterday, Oct. 13 I showed the unit 3 times, and I hope I have a tenant from that. I have just verified employment on one perspective couple.

That's a long answer to your short question. I hope this information helps.


Hello again, Carol. I appreciate the information very much and it does aid me in answering your question.

Since the tenants who were supposed to move in on the 12th are now in breach of their lease agreement with you, you are typically entitled to lost rents as well as reasonable administrative and advertising costs in locating a new tenant.

If, for example, a new tenant is able to move in on the 20th of October and begin paying rent then, you would normally be entitled to deduct from the security deposit of the original tenants the lost rent from the 12th-19th plus reasonable advertising and administrative costs and refund the balance.

The time frame for refunding a security deposit in CA is normally 21 days from the date the tenant moved out. Since they never moved in, that time would normally begin running on the date they notified you of their intent to terminate the lease early and you lose your ability to retain the deposit if you miss the 21 day deadline.

If you do not know how much lost rent and other costs will be deducted from their deposit within the 21 days, then it is typically best to send them a written itemization of how you expect the deposit to be applied to those costs within the 21 day time frame and refund any balance of the deposit. Then send the tenants a final itemized statement as to how the deposit was applied as soon as you know how much the costs are which will be deducted from their deposit. I would send the notices by certified mail or other method which allows you to retain proof that the notices were received by them.

This will typically ensure that they cannot make a legal claim against you.

I hope this helps clarify the situation for you. My goal is to provide you with excellent service – if you feel you have received anything less, please reply back as I am happy to address follow-up questions. Kindly rate my service when I have answered your questions so I will be compensated for my time assisting you. Thank you!


Tina and 5 other Real Estate Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Many thanks for your advice and expertise on this matter.

I am quite satisfied with the response, and the timeliness of it.


You are very welcome, Carol, and thank you for the kind words. Good luck to you with this matter and have a wonderful afternoon.

Kindly rate my service when I have answered your questions so I will be compensated for my time assisting you. Thank you!


Thank you very much for your positive rating of my service. It has been my pleasure to assist you and I hope you will ask for me should a future legal need arise.

If you receive a Customer Satisfaction Survey from JustAnswer, please consider scoring me a 9 or 10. It benefits my ability to assist you and other customers, and would be tremendously appreciated.

Thanks again and all the best to you.


Note: Please feel free to request me if you have future legal questions by typing your new question in the question box on my profile page. Here is a link to that page, which you can bookmark or add to your favorites: I look forward to hearing from you again should the need arise.