Question: I am moving out of my apartment and my roommate is staying. I’ve asked my landlord for my portion of the security deposit back but he is refusing to give it back to me. What is my recourse?
The Rental Girl: The law requires landlords to refund security deposits within 21 days of the lease being terminated, all keys being turned in. You are not entitled to your portion of the security deposit back because your lease has not been terminated. The lease is considered terminated once all parties named “Tenant” on the lease have vacated the property with their possessions and the keys have been returned. Because your roommate is staying, the lease is still valid and the landlord does not have to refund your deposit.
However, roommate swaps happen all the time and there is a common accepted method in which to deal with this situation. Let’s say the rent is $1,000, the security deposit is $1,000, and there are 2 roommates each paying $500/month and who each have contributed $500 towards the deposit. Generally, the roommate who is staying finds a replacement roommate/tenant. The replacement roommate/tenant pays $500 to the landlord for the next month’s rent and $500 security deposit to the departing tenant. The departing tenant is removed from the lease and the new roommate is added. When the new roommate and existing tenant both vacate the property, the deposit is returned and to be split between them.
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