I am living in California. I am currently on a joint lease of a house for a little more than two years. The lease is on a monthly basis (used to be a one-year lease but continued as month-to-month).

The lease is $5000/mo and the total security deposit is $5000/mo (both tenants paid $2500 each)

I am moving out soon and want to give my 30-day notice. My roommate wants to stay and find another roommate. I want to get my security deposit back. However, the apartment has some damage.

However, the landlord says that I will not get my security deposit from him. I should arrange with whoever might move in to replace me. That is fine, but the landlord is refusing to conduct an initial inspection. He is also refusing that I get the things fixed myself.

I want to know my legal rights (with source).

  • Who, in this case, is liable to pay me my portion of the security deposit? My fellow roommate, the one who (might) move in or the landlord?
  • Can a landlord refuse a final inspection when one party on the lease leaves?

1 Answer 1


You say that you have a joint lease. This means that you and your roommate are jointly (together) and severally (individually) responsible for fulfilling the terms of the lease. From the landlord's position there is only one tenant - both of you together constitute the tenant.

If you want to change this so that the tenant from date X is your roommate and someone else you have 2 options:

  1. Jointly give notice, ending the current lease and triggering the return of the deposit. Your roommate and your replacement are then free to negotiate a new lease with its own deposit. The landlord would conduct a final inspection on your lease and an initial inspection on the new lease.
  2. With the landlord's permission, substitute the new person for you on the existing lease. This does not end the lease and does not trigger the return of the deposit. The landlord is not obliged to do anything. You can negotiate whatever deal you like about the security deposit with whoever you like.
  • Thanks! I think we will go for option 2. The landlord has verbally agreed to release me from liability after my move-out (with two witnesses). Would you recommend to put that in writing? Anything you can recommend that should be in there? Would an assignment make sense?
    – mitchkman
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 20:38
  • @mitchkman I’m not a lawyer - I can’t give you legal advice
    – Dale M
    Commented Feb 13, 2018 at 21:47

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