Ask the County Law Librarian – Time Limits for Return of Security Deposit
Hello! I actually have several questions:
1. I moved out of my old apartment complex over 6 months ago. I didn’t get a chance to sue them for my deposit. Is there a time limit?
2. I’m on the SHRA voucher. They still denied they over charged me. I’m have been retaliated against via gang stalking and attempts to run me over on 3 different occasion by management and employees. I resigned my lease several times and was never given an explanation. When I refused to do again, the manager got other tenants and kids to harass me including her own. I brought all this up to the property management and more via certified mail. He didn’t address my issues but focused on coercing me to pay $500 extra besides my section 8 portion. I’ve sent them emails requesting this back via email and attached a pdf of proof. They claim they have no record of it. My question, sorry, do I have to wait to move out of this apartment complex to file a small claims against them? Can I sue them for not just the $500 but also for denying my right to quiet enjoyment and nuisance?
Thank you in advance.
Thank you for your question; hope you had a fun and safe holiday!
For the first question, the statute of limitations or time limit for suing the landlord for return of the security deposit depends on what type of lease you had with the landlord. If your rental agreement is oral, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure §339.5, you must file your lawsuit against the landlord within two years. However, according to the California Code of Civil Procedure §337(1), 337.2, and 343, if you have a written lease, you have four years to file your lawsuit.
Regardless of which type of lease you had, if you intend to file a lawsuit, you should file it promptly as judges tend to be less sympathetic towards old disputes.
As for your second issue, if you feel like you are in danger or are being harassed, and you have a safe place to go, you may want to think about moving out now and then starting your small claims case. If you are a current tenant and you file suit, the intimidation and harassment may increase. If you feel you are being unfairly discriminated against, you may want to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. You may also want to consider a restraining order against the other tenants if they are continually harassing you. The law library has a Research Guide on this topic.
For more information on suing in Small Claims, take a look our previous Sacramento Press article on this topic.
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