Legal Q&A: Don’t play ‘post office’ for former tenants


Question: After a tenant moves out and gives their change of address to the post office, how long are the landlords responsible for any correspondence that may still arrive at their former address?

Answer: You should let the post office do their job, and if the forwarding address has expired, give it back to the post office and indicate that the person no longer resides at the mailing address. We do not recommend you help accommodate your former tenant by playing “post office.”

Question: I have a tenant who smokes outside his apartment. Can I request he not do that? There have been issues with cigarette butts on walkways and it also affects the tenant’s next door to him as they always close the kitchen window when he smokes.

Answer: You can create a non-smoking policy for all or part of the premises, so long as you are consistent in its enforcement.

Ted Kimball Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Ted Kimball
Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP

Question: I have a roommate situation. One roommate has moved out. Am I required by law to give back half of the security deposit to the one who has moved out?

Answer: California law does not require landlords to return the security deposit to one tenant if he or she moves out before the remaining tenant(s). Landlords are not required to account for the use of the security deposit until after they have recovered possession of the property unless otherwise agreed at the inception of the lease.


Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. If you have questions, please contact your local KTS office. For contact information, please visit our website: For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers, and Legal Articles, please consult the resource library section of our website.

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