Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: Does she owe me the security deposit? ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Does she owe me the security deposit?
Category: Relationships and Society > Law
Asked by: auntiem-ga
List Price: $25.00
Posted: 16 Feb 2006 22:58 PST
Expires: 18 Mar 2006 22:58 PST
Question ID: 446825
My roommate and I have been living together for 7 1/2 months.  We have
not spoken to each other in 3 months due to personal differences and a
few arguements.  Against the advice of my family and friends, I
decided to stay and fulfill the lease with my roommate (1 year lease
and I'm good for my word in a contract) and then move to a new
apartment on my own.  However, 3 days ago she and I got into a huge
blowout fight about damage to my microwave and her car.  In the middle
of this arguement she informed me that I "don't need to worry" because
she's moving in 10 days and the landlord ok'd it a month ago.  Doing
this, the landlord informed my roommate that she would lose her
deposit.  We have 4 1/2 months left in the lease and are jointly
listed as residents on the lease (it's not a 50-50 agreement).  She
claims that she planned to tell me she was moving, but would not
confirm when she planned to tell me.  My best guess is that she
planned to give me the keys on her last day there (3 days before the
next month rent was due) and say "I'm gone".  I contacted the landlord
the next day and he confirmed that she had contacted him about
leaving, but she had told him that I KNEW she was leaving.  When I
informed him that I DID NOT KNOW, he verbally retracted his ok for her
to leave me there alone.  Basically, he said, "If it's not ok with
you, it's not ok with me."  However, he will still allow us to break
the lease because I cannot afford to live there alone.  Because her
decision to leave caused an early  termination of our lease, neither
one of us will get our security deposit back.  This has happened in
Kansas and I'm preparing to take her to small claims court for the
amount of my security deposit ($350).

Q1 - How valid is my legal dispute for my security deposit?  

Q2 - Under Kansas law, what are the liabilities for one person
breaking a lease?  Does she owe me the security deposit?

Any great advice will warrant a great tip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Request for Question Clarification by hedgie-ga on 16 Feb 2006 23:18 PST
Q1 - not valid

    She has a right to remove herself from an intolerable situation.
      Just reading your description hurts.

Good advice: Cut your losses and move on.

Should I post this as an answer?
Subject: Re: Does she owe me the security deposit?
Answered By: weisstho-ga on 22 Feb 2006 16:25 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello Auntiem!

Thanks for visiting us with this interesting case. Of course, we are
not providing legal advice as to Kansas Landlord-Tenant law. I can
tell you that I do practice landlord-tenant law in Michigan and have
some substantial experience generally, but (as one old judge told me)
landlord-tenant law is about as tough as it gets ? there are so very
many facets that it is very fact driven. With all that said, let's get
to it!

1.  How valid is your case for the security deposit?  Excellent!  More to follow.

2.  What are the liabilities?  They are the same for both of you, at
least as far as the landlord is concerned. You both signed the lease
and if you look at the small print, I am sure you will see a clause
that establishes "joint and several" liability. That means that the
landlord can sue you, he can sue her, or he can sue both of you
together. It is totally up to him. Now, if he were to sue you ONLY you
could, in the same lawsuit "join" her by filing a paper with the court
? a complaint ? so the action would read LANDLORD vs. AUNTIEM vs. BAD
FRIEND.  The landlord can, although he may not, but he CAN sue you for
the remaining rent under the lease. BUT, he has to "mitigate the

	MITIGATION simply means that he has to try to rent the apartment out
to someone else so that your losses are minimized. The rules in Kansas
regarding a landlord's duty to mitigate were stated in Lindsley v.
Forum Restaurants, Inc., 3 Kan. App. 2d 489 (1979):  "Where a tenant,
under contract to pay rent on real property, abandons the property and
notifies the landlord of that abandonment, it is the landlord's duty
to make a reasonable effort to secure a new tenant and obtain rent
before he can recover from the old tenant under the contract so as to
lessen the injury.  You can find this quote here:

	So, your liabilities are the remaining rent. But many landlords can
be understanding. He can waive the right for the unpaid future rent.
Ask him.

	Or you can stay there, pay him the rent (I know you said it would be
difficult to afford) and sue BAD FRIEND for her part of the remaining
rent ? in small claims court, so long as the claim is not over $4,000.
 (See Small Claims Court rules here: )

	The Landlord-Tenant Law for Kansas can be found here: . It's
a Sedgwick County site, but they are showing the state law.

	So, let's summarize, shall we?

A.	You can sue BAD FRIEND in small claims court for breaching the
contract between the two of you. The fact that your agreement isn't
itself in writing should be of no moment. The "statute of frauds"
should not require that sort of agreement to be in writing. File the
suit when you figure out all of your damages.

B.	LANDLORD can sue either, or both, or you for the unpaid future
rent. But he has to wait until after the rent would have been due (he
can't sue you now for it, even if you have moved out ? it actually has
to become due) AND he has to mitigate your damages by attempting
(actively attempting) to rent the apartment to another.

C.  	IF, but only if, the LANDLORD sues you for the future rent, he
should be suing both of you. If he doesn't, and only sues you AUNTIEM,
then you can either (1) join BAD FRIEND in the lawsuit as a
"third-party defendant," or (2) wait until after the lawsuit is
finished and sue BAD FRIEND in Small Claims Court, so long as the
amount she would owe you is not greater than $4,000. (Even if it is
more than $4,000, you can probably still sue her in Small Claims, but
your recovery would be limited to the $4,000 statutory limit.)

Was I A Help???
I Hope So!

You may have a question, or need me to step through something more
carefully. If so, please hit the CLARIFICATION button and I'll get
right back to you.

Good Luck,

Search Strategy:
Kansas "landlord tenant law"
Kansas "landlord tenant" mitigation

Request for Answer Clarification by auntiem-ga on 22 Feb 2006 21:42 PST
Thank you so much for such a thorough answer.  However, I am not
worried so much about the landlord suing us, but more the small claims
court between my roommate and me.  Since I posted the question, I have
returned to the house we lived in and immediately after she moved her
stuff out (and well before the "10 days" notice she gave me) she had
all of the utilities shut off.  Therefore, all of my refrigerated food
is ruined.  Plus she took some of my dishes.  I took an inventory of
this and am planning to include it in the amount I am suing her for. 
I know you can't give me actual legal advice for this, but what I am
really interested to know is, based on the situation,  what are my
chances in court for the claims of security deposit, perishable food
and some dishes?  Will the judge laugh at me (Judge Judy style) or do
I have a legal right to reimbursement of these items?

Clarification of Answer by weisstho-ga on 23 Feb 2006 06:23 PST
Yes, you should include in your claim the value of the spoiled food,
the "personal assets that she converted to her own use" and ANY OTHER

Judge Judy is NOT representative of the magistrates and judges that
hear small claims actions. My experience is that the judges and
magistrates are very respectful of the position of the parties, are
interested in doing "the right thing," are not going to enforce the
legal formalisms of rules of evidence and rules of civil procedure.
Rather, they will give both sides an opportunity to tell their side of
the story.

It will help your case if don't interrupt BAD FRIEND, wait until she
is done speaking and then say "your Honor, . . ."   Show great respect
for the court (yes, your Honor; no, your Honor. Note:  Don't call the
judge "Judge" - that is considered too informal for in court - it's OK
out of court.)

Don't be shy about claiming Everything. Many times the judge will
split the baby so that each party feels that they won something. So,
make sure that everything that you could claim IS claimed.

Photographs, copies of the lease agreement (which you should attach to
your complaint in the court), and any other tangible evidence should
be available. Have a copy for you, a copy for BAD FRIEND and hand the
original to the judge (he/she will hand it back to you at the
conclusion of the hearing.)



Don't worry about overstepping your bounds. Make all of your claims
and just be prepared to tell the story - calmly and directly to the


Here are some links for help:
This is from Colorado but has some excellent stuff:

And if you visit your local library (or bookstore) there are thousands
of books out there on small claims actions. But look at the Colorado
pamphlet first - its great.

I'm still available to you if you have any questions.


Clarification of Answer by weisstho-ga on 23 Feb 2006 06:26 PST
And, a final word about the Landlord. It's wonderful that he will not
be looking for the unpaid future rent. REALLY wonderful and it is a
big favor to you (and a credit to what must have been an excellent
tenancy on your part).

BUT, in the law business you are never sure it's over until it's over.
 Be careful.

In your small claims action, IF they allow it, include this: 
auntiem-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $10.00

Subject: Re: Does she owe me the security deposit?
From: daniel2d-ga on 17 Feb 2006 00:39 PST
What does your contract say about early termination of the lease? 
That is what governs the issue.  The landlord could hold both of you
to the lease.  Forfeiting the security deposit seems like a fair
compromise and to your benefit.  In many instances you never get the
security deposit back anyway as the landlord will find damage etc.
that equals the security deposit.
Subject: Re: Does she owe me the security deposit?
From: probonopublico-ga on 17 Feb 2006 02:57 PST
Cheer up - It could have been worse!

Just forget about it and move on.
Subject: Re: Does she owe me the security deposit?
From: weisstho-ga on 23 Feb 2006 17:27 PST
Thank you ever so much for the stars and the nice tip!!


Important Disclaimer: Answers and comments provided on Google Answers are general information, and are not intended to substitute for informed professional medical, psychiatric, psychological, tax, legal, investment, accounting, or other professional advice. Google does not endorse, and expressly disclaims liability for any product, manufacturer, distributor, service or service provider mentioned or any opinion expressed in answers or comments. Please read carefully the Google Answers Terms of Service.

If you feel that you have found inappropriate content, please let us know by emailing us at with the question ID listed above. Thank you.
Search Google Answers for
Google Answers  

Google Home - Answers FAQ - Terms of Service - Privacy Policy