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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 102523
Experience:  Qualified attorney in private practice including business, family, criminal, and real estate issues.
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My landlord only gave me back half of my security deposit and

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My landlord only gave me back half of my security deposit and claims he can't give me the other half unless my ex roommate signs off on it, even though I was the only one who paid the deposit in the first place and have the proof. Getting her to sign anything is not an option. How can I get back the rest of my money?
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my reply.

I am very sorry for your situation. Can you please tell me if both you and your roommate have signed the lease, or, just you?

This is not an answer, but an Information Request. I need this information to answer your question. Please reply, so I can answer your question. Thank you in advance.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi Ely,

We unfortunately were both on the lease. Also, if the landlord addresses the second portion of the check to both myself and my roommate could he then release the check to me? I read that if he writes "pay to the order of Savannah ____ OR Carly ____" then either of us could deposit the money without the other present.
Thank you,

Unfortunately, by default, if both tenants are one the lease, then each get half of the deposit back because it is presumed that each get half even if the original check was only in your name.

What someone in your situation then wants to do is to file a small claims suit against the landlord. See the following links for good guides:

To sue in a state court, one needs to have a "cause of action." There are numerous causes of action, such as "breach of contract," "negligence," "fraud," "unjust enrichment," etc., as well as causes of action rooted in statutory law. Every state has their own although they are very similar to each other in every state because they all stem from the same common law. A pleading in Court needs at least one cause of action, although it is not unusual to have more than one.

Here, this may be actionable for in assumpsit for money had and received. To prove this cause, one must show that one (the landlord) holds money that in all equity and justice belongs to the other (i.e. you).

The Judge may then award you the whole amount. As for the roommate - if she does not testify willingly, you can subpoena her and make her come to court, under punishment of contempt if she does not.

I hope this helps and clarifies. Good luck.

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