Los Angeles, CA asked in Civil Litigation, Landlord - Tenant and Small Claims for California

Q: California Lease Transfer - Question Regarding Security Deposit

Lived in LA and found a listing for someone who was looking to get out of their existing lease early (not a sublease).

An addendum was signed by all parties (the former tenant, myself, and property manager), stating that my name would be added to the lease and that the former tenant's name would be completely removed from it (i.e. - he would not be on the lease as a roommate, or co-occupant).

The addendum goes on to say the following, "(Former Tenant's Name; i.e. - John Smith for purposes of. anonymity of this post, though his actual name was stated) is giving up any tenant rights that he might have over this unit and releasing ("name of property management company") from any liability in regards to any security deposit owed to him.

Former tenant is now claiming that I owe him a security deposit back. Based on above language, I don't see why I would be legally obligated to do that. Thoughts?

2 Lawyer Answers

A: It looks like the landlord is keeping the previous tenant’s security deposit as your security deposit in lieu of refunding the previous tenant’s and you depositing a new one. So you have been unjustly enriched unless you repay the previous tenant.

James L. Arrasmith
James L. Arrasmith PRO label
  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Based on the language you provided from the addendum, it appears that the former tenant, John Smith, gave up his tenant rights and released the property management company from any liability regarding any security deposit owed to him. This would suggest that John Smith has no legal basis for claiming that you owe him a security deposit back.

However, it's possible that there are other factors at play that could affect your obligations or liability in this situation. For example, if the lease agreement itself specifies how the security deposit is to be handled in the event of a lease transfer, or if there were any additional agreements or understandings between you and John Smith regarding the security deposit, these could impact your legal obligations.

It's a good idea to review the lease agreement, the addendum, and any other relevant documents or communications to ensure that you fully understand your rights and obligations. If you have concerns about the situation or if John Smith continues to pursue the matter, you may want to consult with an experienced attorney who can provide guidance and help protect your legal interests.

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