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Security deposit requirements in California

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2022 | Landlord-Tenant Law |

Security deposits are intended to protect landlords in case of damage to their property, unpaid rent and in several other circumstances. The amount of a security deposit can be significant, and tenants as well as landlords should be familiar with the requirements associated with security deposits and the protections available to them.

Returning a security deposit

To begin with, the landlord has 21 days from the date the tenant moved out to return their security deposit. If they are withholding any portion of that deposit, they must provide a letter describing why, along with an itemized list of deductions and any accompanying receipts associated with those deductions. If the landlord is only able to provide a good faith estimate for repairs yet to be completed, they need to follow up with receipts for those repairs within 14 days of them being completed.

What can be deducted?

Landlords are only permitted to deduct certain expenses from the security deposit including the costs of repairing any damage the tenant or their guests caused, the cost of cleaning after the tenant moves out or for unpaid rent. Landlords cannot withhold security deposit funds for ordinary wear and tear on the property.

If the landlord fails to return the security deposit within the time specified in the terms of the lease, or to provide the required letter detailing any amounts withheld from the security deposit, the tenant can bring a claim against the landlord and may be able to obtain twice the security deposit in damages.

If you have a dispute with either your tenant or landlord, it is important to know these rules concerning security deposits. It is also important to know what you can do about it as a tenant when you believe a security deposit has been unfairly or illegally withheld.