Us­ing de­posit to pay last rent

Los Angeles Times - - REAL ESTATE - By Anky van Deursen Van Deursen is di­rec­tor of Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Pro­grams for Project Sen­tinel, a Bay Area non­profit. Send ques­tions to info@hous­ing.org.

Ques­tion: I re­cently bought my first home, so I will be giv­ing a ter­mi­na­tion no­tice to my land­lord soon. My se­cu­rity de­posit is quite large, and it would help me fi­nan­cially if the land­lord al­lowed me to use it for my fi­nal month’s rent.

What can the land­lord do if I don’t pay the fi­nal month’s rent and in­stead tell him to use my de­posit for last month’s rent?

An­swer: Land­lords are not ob­li­gated to use se­cu­rity de­posit funds for the fi­nal month’s rent, un­less it is specif­i­cally stated in your writ­ten rental agree­ment that the de­posit can be used for this pur­pose.

If your land­lord does not agree to use your de­posit for the fi­nal month’s rent, he can serve a 3-Day Pay Rent or Quit No­tice to you, which could es­ca­late to a le­gal ac­tion, known as an un­law­ful de­tainer (evic­tion process in court).

Be­fore you de­cide not to pay the rent, you may want to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion with the land­lord. De­pend­ing on your re­la­tion­ship with your land­lord and per­haps af­ter view­ing the con­di­tion of your unit, he may be will­ing to con­sider your re­quest and help you out.

If you would like help in this dis­cus­sion with the land­lord, con­tact the lo­cal me­di­a­tion pro­gram in your area. A me­di­a­tor can bring you and your land­lord to­gether un­der con­di­tions that are neu­tral and con­ve­nient. Me­di­a­tion would en­able you to look for ways to agree on a so­lu­tion.

Ab­sent some agree­ment with your land­lord, it is ad­vis­able to pay the rent within the re­quired time pe­riod to avoid the cost that would re­sult from an un­law­ful de­tainer as well the harm to your credit record.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact a lo­cal fair hous­ing or me­di­a­tion pro­gram, or Project Sen­tinel at (888) 324-7468, or visit www.hous­ing.org.

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