Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com, here’s what to make sure to include in your letter.

citi_refusetopay.jpgSo 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.

Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

Want more news, sent to your inbox every day? Then how about subscribing to our email newsletter? Here’s why we think you should. Come on, give it a try.

the author

Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

Please make sure your comment adheres to our comment policy. If it doesn't, it may be deleted. Repeat violations may cause us to revoke your commenting privileges. No one wants that!
  • Josh

    I think a telephone call from the City Attorney’s office to review the records for the tenant, if it turns out that CitiApartments doesn’t give back the deposit, will in fact get CitiApartments attention, and they’ll rectify the issue.

    That said: Follow all the rules: Get a walk through done, take pictures, give them a note which says you expect your deposit back in full with the address you want them to send the check to so they have no excuses.

  • Josh

    I think a telephone call from the City Attorney’s office to review the records for the tenant, if it turns out that CitiApartments doesn’t give back the deposit, will in fact get CitiApartments attention, and they’ll rectify the issue.

    That said: Follow all the rules: Get a walk through done, take pictures, give them a note which says you expect your deposit back in full with the address you want them to send the check to so they have no excuses.