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After we wrote this piece about CitiApartments’ alleged practice of refusing to return deposits from renters, we got a lot of responses.

One thing we’ve heard — if you make a big enough stink, you have a better chance of getting your deposit back. Joy Anderson (who you can also see in the video above) says she spent several days calling and getting brushed off, so she went down to CitiApartments’ office.

I waited for a while and when the first person gave me a strange answer about not being able to get money from the bank I asked to see her manager. Peter came out and spoke with me in a very brusque manner as referenced in (my) Yelp review.
I demanded to speak to his manager and he said his third party person Andrew would speak to me but not for another hour.

Joy says Peter told her that “you don’t really have any options here, you’re just going to have to wait.” Says Joy “Well, people putting obstacles in my way has always lit a fire in me to find a way to make something work, so a lot of the energy came from proving that I DID have other options.” (Calls to CitiApartments to get their side of the story were not returned, and they don’t even owe us money!)

I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to protest or not to get the money back but figured I would either way.Instead of waiting, she left and contacted the rent board, which advised a “strongly worded letter.” The next day she sent that letter, and got a call in response from Andrew, the aforereferenced CitiApartments “third party person.” She returned to the CitiApartments office, where “Andrew took me into a conference room and after about 45 minutes of negotiating with them,” a check was cut and Joy and her deposit were reunited.

Joy was frustrated enough by the entire situation that after she deposited her check, she went back and picketed in front of the CitiApartments office for the next hour or so, saying “I wasn’t sure if I was going to have to protest or not to get the money back but figured I would either way.”

Is this a path we’d all choose? No, probably not. But, folks, it worked for Joy, so perhaps it’s an approach worth considering.

Joy’s story isn’t the only CitiApartments story we’ve received, and we’ll bring you more in the coming days. Send us yours.

Oh! And speaking of folks who won’t get back to us, still no word from craigslist (it’s all the way at the bottom, sorry) on whether or not CitiApartments’ craigslist advertisements requesting security deposits that they seem to know will not be returned would constitute a violation of their TOU.

So, you know what we’re still doing? We’re flagging the CitiApartments listings on craigslist for deletion.

While we regret the extra hassle this causes CL’s hardworking community managers, CL has been on the vanguard of protecting its users from being taken advantage of by the unscrupulous. Even if they won’t email or call us back, let’s work together to do what we can to encourage them to take a leadership role in this case, too.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at eve@sfappeal.com.

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  • sf_tenants_union_counselor

    **We are reposting this, because in the time that we were posting this, a new story popped us.**

    So the first thing that we want to make clear: if you are in a CitiApartments Building which has been foreclosed upon, your security deposits are still safe.Your new landlord is liable for all claims against the old landlord when they assume responsibility for the building. Further, if your building is still owned by CitiApartments, then they remain liable for all security deposits. We encourage all tenants to read California Civil Code section 1950.5, which applies to all tenants within the state.

    The most important provisions of this code include: Your landlord is always liable for your security deposit. Any money given to your landlord at move-in aside from first month’s rent and a credit check fee is considered to be a security deposit. When you give possession of your unit back to your landlord, then you must get your deposit back within 21 calendar days or copies of receipts for repairs deducted from the security deposit. If the landlord withholds your security deposit beyond 21 days in bad faith, then you can sue your landlord for your security deposit and punitive damages.

    Further, under San Francisco Administrative Code section 49.2 your security deposit accrues interest at a rate determined by the San Francisco Residential Rental Stabilization and Arbitration Board every year. This security deposit must be paid to you by your landlord every year for ALL funds of yours that he is holding, including last month’s rent and illegal deposits such as “pet deposits” and “cleaning deposits.”

    Second, even if your apartment changes hands, rent control still applies to your apartment. Any rights that you had while living under CitiApartments, you have under your new landlord. AND REMEMBER: YOU NEVER HAVE TO SIGN ANOTHER LEASE THAT IS NOT IDENTICAL TO YOUR ORIGINAL LEASE.

    Finally, under San Francisco Rent and Eviction Control your tenancy can only be ended for one of 14 just causes.You can review these reasons by looking at San Francisco Administrative Code Section 37.9. However, even if you do not read these codes please know that FORECLOSURE IS NOT A CAUSE FOR EVICTION. If your building has been foreclosed upon, you have every right within San Francisco to continue living there.

    Please note: This advice only applies to those buildings which fall under the rent control ordinance.These buildings are any building built on or before June 1979. We do not hold ourselves out to be lawyers, and if you require representation–which most people won’t– we can recommend attorneys who represent tenants only for you to meet. If you would like to meet with a counselor please come see us!.

  • sf_tenants_union_counselor

    **We are reposting this, because in the time that we were posting this, a new story popped us.**

    So the first thing that we want to make clear: if you are in a CitiApartments Building which has been foreclosed upon, your security deposits are still safe.Your new landlord is liable for all claims against the old landlord when they assume responsibility for the building. Further, if your building is still owned by CitiApartments, then they remain liable for all security deposits. We encourage all tenants to read California Civil Code section 1950.5, which applies to all tenants within the state.

    The most important provisions of this code include: Your landlord is always liable for your security deposit. Any money given to your landlord at move-in aside from first month’s rent and a credit check fee is considered to be a security deposit. When you give possession of your unit back to your landlord, then you must get your deposit back within 21 calendar days or copies of receipts for repairs deducted from the security deposit. If the landlord withholds your security deposit beyond 21 days in bad faith, then you can sue your landlord for your security deposit and punitive damages.

    Further, under San Francisco Administrative Code section 49.2 your security deposit accrues interest at a rate determined by the San Francisco Residential Rental Stabilization and Arbitration Board every year. This security deposit must be paid to you by your landlord every year for ALL funds of yours that he is holding, including last month’s rent and illegal deposits such as “pet deposits” and “cleaning deposits.”

    Second, even if your apartment changes hands, rent control still applies to your apartment. Any rights that you had while living under CitiApartments, you have under your new landlord. AND REMEMBER: YOU NEVER HAVE TO SIGN ANOTHER LEASE THAT IS NOT IDENTICAL TO YOUR ORIGINAL LEASE.

    Finally, under San Francisco Rent and Eviction Control your tenancy can only be ended for one of 14 just causes.You can review these reasons by looking at San Francisco Administrative Code Section 37.9. However, even if you do not read these codes please know that FORECLOSURE IS NOT A CAUSE FOR EVICTION. If your building has been foreclosed upon, you have every right within San Francisco to continue living there.

    Please note: This advice only applies to those buildings which fall under the rent control ordinance.These buildings are any building built on or before June 1979. We do not hold ourselves out to be lawyers, and if you require representation–which most people won’t– we can recommend attorneys who represent tenants only for you to meet. If you would like to meet with a counselor please come see us!.