I still havent received my security deposit back after 21 days
Question Details: I moved out of my last residence on 06/27/09. I was paid up until 07/01/09. As of today it has been over 21 days and I still have not recv my deposit. I spoke with my landlord who told me it was addressed incorrectly, she advised me to check with my local post office and try and find it, this is not my responsibility, I have heard that if the deposit or letter is not received within 21 days , the full deposit must be refunded, is this correct?
Yes. Under California law, 21 calendar days or less after you move, your landlord must either: (1) send you a full refund of your security deposit, or (2) mail or personally deliver to you an itemized statement that lists the amounts of any deductions from your security deposit and the reasons for the deductions, together with a refund of any amounts not deducted.
Nicholas' answer is correct in California too, for the most part. The 21 days would typically run from the day you surrender possession, which doesn't just mean moving out, but letting the landlord know you moved out, and giving him/her your keys back. However, your question seems to be getting at another issue: whether or not the landlord's merely saying that he mailed the refund on time is sufficient. I suggest that this is probably an evidentiary issue. Usually, the whole "the check is in the mail" thing is a lie. Post offices don't lose mail all that often.. Your recourse is to send him/her a letter saying that you still have not received it, and try demanding your entire deposit back. If you go to court, a judge is going to determine whether he/she believes that it was mailed. I.e., which one of you is lying, or if the mailman lost it. That's not really a legal issue, and it's up to the judge. But here's a neat trick: Let's say your chances of the judge siding with you are 50/50. You can sue the landlord for 3 times the amount of the security deposit for bad faith. So if you win, you get a huge windfall, and if you lose, the landlord still has to give you back what he owes you. Thus, the landlord will probably settle favorably.