Google Answers Logo
View Question
Q: SF, CA who is responsible for returning deposit: Master Tenant, or Landord? ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: SF, CA who is responsible for returning deposit: Master Tenant, or Landord?
Category: Miscellaneous
Asked by: la2sf2002-ga
List Price: $20.00
Posted: 13 Aug 2002 12:33 PDT
Expires: 12 Sep 2002 12:33 PDT
Question ID: 54182
I am breaking my residential lease 6 months into my year lease.  My
roommate (the other person on the lease) has a drug problem and
has become impossible to live with.  My roommate has a friend moving
into my room the day after I move out. I gave two months notice prior
to my moving out. My landlord says that because my roommate is
becoming the master tenant upon my moving out that I must be
reimbursed for the deposit from my roommate, not from the landlord.

The landlord lives in the same building and is not making an issue of
my breaking the lease, he even tried to help me get in with some other
friends of his who are landlords. (I opted to move out of San
Francisco instead.)

My question is: Who is responsible for returning my deposit money? 
The master tenant, or the landlord?

(Lease is in San Francisco, CA, in a rent control eligible building)

Clarification of Question by la2sf2002-ga on 13 Aug 2002 14:56 PDT
Lease was cosigned by myself and the now master tenant roommate.
Subject: Re: SF, CA who is responsible for returning deposit: Master Tenant, or Landord?
Answered By: austin_trill-ga on 13 Aug 2002 15:59 PDT
Hi, la2sf2002 -

This is an interesting situation.  After much searching, I think I've
come up with your answer - although I'm afraid it's probably not the
answer you wanted.
According to :
"The landlord is not required to return the security deposit for the
apartment until all tenants vacate, unless there is a provision to the
contrary in the rental agreement."
The page goes on to say that a common solution is to have the new
tenant (i.e. your roommate's friend) pay the departing tenant (you)
their share of the deposit upon moving in.
In addition, you should request that your landlord give you a waiver
of liability when you move out.  If your portion of the lease is not
assigned to the new tenant, you could be held legally responsible if
your roommate were to damage the apartment or not pay rent.    This is
called a "novation", and the definition can be found at:
Also keep in mind that security deposits should have interest paid on
them at the rate of 5% annually.  This information can be found at:
Technically, California state law allows a landlord to keep your
security deposit against unpaid rent.  Therefore, he is within his
rights by keeping it since you are breaking your lease.
However, most landlords don't take such a hard-nosed approach (and it 
sounds like your landlord is reasonable about it).  If you were to
press the issue, it could cause you more problems than it's worth -
like your landlord demanding that you pay rent for the duration of
your lease, until he's able to re-let the apartment.
There's some more helpful general information regarding renting
property in California at: (the main page for searching
California laws)
I'm sorry you had such a bad experience, and I hope that your move
will be a fresh start.  If you have any questions regarding this
answer, please ask for clarification.
Search strategy used:
"master tenant" definition
"security deposit" assign lease california
california "civil code"
california renter law
california "master tenant" deposit 
california "master tenant" assignment lease deposit
california rental law deposit "transfer lease"
There are no comments at this time.

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