If renting a property to a tenant, almost half of the merchandise gets stolen, am I obligated to give back the security deposit?

Asked by Monica Salih, Los Angeles, CA Tue Nov 6, 2012

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Sona Gallatin’s answer
Sona Gallatin, Agent, Santa Clarita, CA
Fri Nov 23, 2012
Was everything disclosed in your rental agreement? I recommend that all my income property owners to include an itemized walk through with photos, hopefully you did likewise and if not then its a tough situation.

Goo luck.
0 votes
Virginia Hol…, Agent, Redondo Beach, CA
Thu Nov 15, 2012
When entering into the Rental/Lease contract , prior to them taking possession I wallk through the house, room by room with a photo album which shows each room exactly as it is that day and what is included such as blinds, drapes, washing machine clothes dryer, lamps whatever. I have the person sign each page and we date it. Now I have proof of what the condition was like and what was included when they took possession. They get a copy of each room after signed and dated.

They will argue with you all they want but in the end if you have that on paper, signed and dated. it speaks volumes, if you decide to take them to small claims court..

Virginia Holdinski
C-21 Ludecke
0 votes
Kawain Payne, Agent, Seal Beach, CA
Sat Nov 10, 2012

I am not sure what merchandise you are speaking of here. Did the renters take appliances that came with the rental or light fixtures?

If so, this is a theft and should first and foremost be reported to local law enforcement. As to you retaining the security deposit as payment for stolen items you shouls consult an attorney.

Best of lucK!!!

Kawain Payne, Realtor
0 votes
Thank you, Kawaine for the advice. My tenant's cleaning lady took my rug that I had for the living room.
Flag Sat Nov 10, 2012
Neal Grusky, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Fri Nov 9, 2012
I would recommend you speak to an attorney to be safe. always safe than sorry.
Best of luck
0 votes
Daniel Klein, Agent, Beverly Hills, CA
Fri Nov 9, 2012
I believe Monica may be the landlord in this question.

If your tenant is renting a commercial property and property "merchandise" is stolen, that is an insurance issue, not a security deposit question.

The security deposit was given to you as a guarantee that the tenant would return the property to you in an equal condition as originally rented out, and to buffer the credit risk by giving the property to the tenant in the first place.

Daniel Klein
Mortgage Banker
Real Estate Broker
0 votes
Douglas Perez, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Tue Nov 6, 2012
Monica Salih,

Could you clarify your question?
Whose merchandise?
Is this a commercial property?
What kind of rental contract?
What does your rental contract specify about it?
Is there a police report?
Is merchandise insured?
0 votes
Ron Thomas, Agent, Fresno, CA
Tue Nov 6, 2012
The SECURITY DEPOSIT does not pertain to the "SECURITY" of the apartment:
The Tenant is responsible for Insurance covering their posessions.
The Insurance that the OWNER gets is FIRE/LIABILITY Insurance.
You would probably be responsible if there were no locks on the doors.

If the Tenant moves out, because of the THEFT, but they leave the place in the same condition as when they moved in; then they would be entitled to their SECURITY DEPOSIT back.
If the THEFT was also a "break-in" and there was damage done to the doors or windows, that would not be the fault of the tenant. Your Insurance should cover those repairs.
0 votes
Jane Peters, Agent, Los Angeles, CA
Tue Nov 6, 2012
A security deposit is effectively taken to ensure that the property is returned in the same, or near to the same, condition in which is was rented, which can be a subjective opinion. If indeed "merchandise" was stolen, what that might be, I am not sure, and you can prove it, I would imagine you could try to keep the relevant amount. However, if argued against, you would probably end up in a legal wrangle. In any case you would need to talk to a lawyer about what you can and can't do in this situation.
Web Reference:  http://www.homejane.com
0 votes
Cindy Davis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Tue Nov 6, 2012
No one can say for sure...you're the one who has a copy of the rental agreement or lease.....what does that say?
0 votes
John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Tue Nov 6, 2012
Depends on how the security deposit was structured. If it included a clause for lost or stolen goods probably not.
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