By the time renters try to get their deposit money back, many landlords have already spent it.
"So once you give it to the landlord, it become the landlord's money," said tenant legal expert Steven Kellman. "When you're asking for your money back, your money is gone, so you're asking for their money."
That's why some landlords make it so difficult to get your deposit back. In many cases, if you're a college student, you can forget it.
"I think a lot of landlords try to take advantage of younger people who are more intimidated and are afraid of the system," said Kellman.
The San Diego attorney said renters need to push to get their money back.
"I know friends who just moved into a house, didn't write anything down and moved out, and they got half or three-quarters of their deposit taken," said college junior Ty Hines of San Diego.
So how can you get your money back? Here are tips from Steven Kellman with the Tenants Legal Center:
Keep Deposit Documents: Make sure you have proof of your deposit, including a receipt and a canceled check
Don't give up on getting your deposit back. Sometimes, landlords will claim damage and try to keep your money. They must prove what they find and keep repair receipts. They can not use the deposit money for property improvements or renovations.