Do I Still Need To Worry About Getting My Deposit From Citiapartments?

So I just read your article regarding these issues for Citiapartments, now Urban Pioneer. I am anticipating moving out by July and plan on using my security deposit (I have the copy of the check used) for my next place. So what exactly are my rates if they refuse to pay and whose responsibility to pay is it?

As you may know, in March of this year the City of San Francisco settled its long-standing case against Citiapartments, et al. I just read through the settlement and there are no specific or added protections for tenants if a Citiapartments entity retains a security deposit in bad faith. That’s a bit of a problem because there are rampant tenant allegations out there that these guys just refuse to return security deposits. Hopefully that will change given all the bad press.

I’m assuming you’ll be giving a thirty-day notice on or about June 1, 2011. Of course, that must be done in writing. In your notice include a request that you be allowed to apply your security deposit to your last month’s rent. Tell them that you will allow them to inspect the unit to see that there is no damage other than normal wear and tear.

Unfortunately they can refuse your request and they probably will. If you do not pay your last month’s rent they can legally serve you with a three-day notice to pay or quit. If you don’t pay at that time (and I strongly suggest you do), you can be sued for unlawful detainer.

Even if you move before the trial, the case will remain on the court records. Unless the case is dismissed within 60 days, it will become viewable by the public, meaning nasty credit agencies will report it to any potential landlords and screw up your chances to find many otherwise available units. The only way you’ll get Urban Pioneer to dismiss is to pay the rent and, likely, their attorney fees.

Readers: It’s always preferable to be a plaintiff in a lawsuit rather than a defendant.

When Urban Pioneer refuses your request to apply your security deposit to the rent, remind them that you will sue them for the any money they keep plus statutory damages of two times the entire deposit if they withhold any part of the deposit in bad faith.

You may also be able to report any bad faith retention to the City Attorney based on Section (IV)(I)(D)(3) of the settlement which prohibits the Citiapartments defendants from “Maintaining, operating, occupying or using any properties in such a manner as to constitute violations of any provision of municipal or state law.” It may be a little skinny, but hey, Dennis Herrera is running for mayor.

Be sure to read my post, “Grand Theft Security Deposit” to make sure that, after you move, nothing will come back to bite you in the ass.

Crow & Rose's legal practice emphasizes eviction defense, wrongful eviction and other landlord tenant and real property matters.

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