Security Deposit Law in California Explained

A security deposit is money collected by a landlord in addition to rent and used to protect the landlord if the tenant violates the terms of the rental lease.

  • Thursday, October 27, 2016

  General   Tips   California   

A security deposit is money collected by a landlord in addition to rent and used to protect the landlord if the tenant violates the terms of the rental lease. It might also be used to cover cleaning costs, damage to the property beyond normal wear and tear, unpaid rent and replacing or repairing personal property, including keys.

Landlords must follow security deposit laws in California. Knowing these laws ahead of time helps landlords avoid legal disputes when a property is first leased and when the rental agreement comes to an end.

How Much Security Deposit Can a California Landlord Collect?

  • For an unfurnished residential property, a landlord can collect a security deposit that is two times as much as the monthly rent
  • For a furnished residential property, a landlord can collect a security deposit that is three times as much as the monthly rent
  • If the tenant has a waterbed, then the landlord can collect additional security deposit money equal to one half of the monthly rent
  • Non-refundable security deposits are not allowed
  • The landlord does not have to provide a receipt for the security deposit

How Soon Does a California Landlord Have to Refund the Security Deposit?

  • After a tenant vacates the property, the landlord has 21 calendar days to refund the security deposit in full
  • If the landlord does not return the security deposit in full, then within 21 days he must deliver in person or by mail the remainder of the security deposit and an itemized list of the deductions he made
  • If the landlord deducts money from the security deposit for cleaning, replacements or repairs to the property and those expenses total more than $126, then the landlord must deliver receipts for the costs he incurred along with the itemized statement of deductions

Some of the biggest disputes between landlords and tenants have to do with security deposits. If you are a landlord, make sure you know the law and follow it. Doing so will save you time, effort, money and headaches down the road.

Please don't hesitate to contact us for more information.


comments powered by Disqus
Get Started For Free!     Have some questions? Check out our FAQs.