Roomate Moving out while roommate stays, recovering security deposit

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My jurisdiction is: California, not rent-controlled


I currently am living in an apartment with me and three roommates. Our lease ends in the next couple of weeks, at which point three of us will be moving out, leaving one behind (let's call him B). This has been known for at least a year.

We have been unable to find replacement roommates for the three of us. B signed a renewal lease a couple months ago, he now would like to back out of it but management won't let him. We have been given roommate removal forms to sign, the text of which is:
I, ______________, request to have my name removed from the lease dated <current lease dates> for apartment ____.
Effective <end of current lease>, I agree to relinquish any title, right of entry, or occupancy to the said premises.
Furthermore, it is understood that any refund or rents or deposits that may be due at the termination of that lease will be made to the then legal residents. (emphasis added)
It requires signatures from the resident that is leaving and all other residents. We have three forms and all four of us are required to sign each of them. So far I have been reluctant to sign because of the last sentence about the deposit.

Each of us currently has an equal share in the security deposit. The three of us were under the impression that B would pay us our share of the deposit when we leave, so he would then have paid in the entire deposit. However, B is under the impression that when replacement roommates are found, they would pay us our shares of the deposit. This would be acceptable, except that B cannot afford the rent for the entire apartment, so he has indicated that if no roommates are found, he will break the lease, forfeiting the deposit.

I believe that since we gave notice well in advance of our leaving, and we are leaving at the end of the lease, B should pay us out for the deposit since he chose to stay, even if he regrets that decision.

So there are two questions I have:
  1. Is B required to pay us our part of the deposit if he is the only one on the new lease, or can he make us wait until replacements are found?
  2. It does not seem right to me that B can sign the lease by himself, claiming our share of the deposit, then break it and forfeit our money. Is there anything we can do to invalidate that lease? Do the removal forms we were asked to sign have any effect on this?

Thanks in advance. I intend to contact a lawyer but we need all the help we can get.
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I don't understand. WHO signed the first lease? Was it all three of you? Who gave you the roomate removal forms? I don't know how B could sign a lease renewal alone that requires the other roomates to wait until B's lease is over to return the security deposit. It doesn't make sense. It would seem B would need to sign a new lease only under B's name and which would then not be an extension of the current lease, which would expire.
All four of us were on the original lease. Actually how it turned out is that you are right, B did not have the ability to sign the lease renewal on his own. What made the renewal lease final was the roommate removal forms. Unfortunately, if we were to not sign the forms, the lease would become month-to-month because we had not given 30 days notice that we were leaving. We were not aware that we could invalidate the new lease by not signing the removal forms.

We ended up signing the forms because we did not want to pay for another month, and the new lease cut the security deposit in half so we still will be getting back 2/3 of our deposit immediately.
The lease was for one year, it was to change to month-to-month only if we failed to give notice to renew or move out within 30 days of the end of the lease. We did pay the last month's rent of the lease.
Because if we did not renew the lease, or give 30 days notice that we were leaving, the lease would have changed to a month-to-month agreement (this was specified in the lease). By the time we realized this the lease was almost up. We could have then given our 30 day notice to move out but we would still have to pay for one month.
This was my point - you'd have to pay for the 30 days no matter what, whether you renewed for a year or terminated the month to month agreement. Signing some roommate agreement doesn't get you off the lease, unless you're trying to say that for one month your roommate was the only one on the lease. If that's the case, then your lease ended before the extension granted to the other roommate and you should have been entitled to a return of your deposit.
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