A few days ago I published a post about CitiApartments and 400 Duboce that’s been flagged “private” since January 5. Why did I wait? I wanted my deposit back, and given their track record, didn’t want to give them any reason to hold onto it.
California law states that landlords have 21 days after you move out to refund your deposit, or provide you with an itemized statement listing deductions. As I might have expected, Citi did neither. Luckily for me, I date someone who deserves an honorary post graduate degree in information retrieval. He found the California Courts’ self help page, which includes a tool for writing deposit demand letters for your landlord.
Armed with that generated letter, I emailed my building accountant and Ed Singer, general counsel of the Lembi Group (the parent corporation of the many, varied LLCs that actually own the buildings; email him to say “I love you” at firstname.lastname@example.org). Less than an hour later, I received a reply promising my check would be cut that week. My cautious optimism turned to near giddy relief when I received the check on Thursday. On Friday I walked to their bank to cash the check1, and then nervously walked two blocks to my bank to deposit the take. Walking away from my bank, my hands were shaking as I held the deposit receipt: the sense of relief at being done was palpable.
It’s clear that I’m one of the lucky ones. Sure, the math on the statement doesn’t make any sense at all, but I only lost $30 of my deposit — and actually got them to credit the interest to my last month’s rent. But the contrast between my experience and Richard’s — he received his refund check less than a week after moving out — is dramatic and telling.
Take away lesson: renting from CitiApartments, First Apartments, or Greg Apartments is probably not in your best interest. Unless you have money to burn. In which case, I can help with that.
1 There were reports on SF Appeal of checks bouncing; the last thing I wanted to do was add a returned check fee to the tally.