Wednesday, June 24, 2015

CA Tenant Rights Part 2- Security Deposit

People move homes and offices every day. Yet, many people do not receive their security deposits back from their previous landlords. Many do not understand how a security deposit is supposed to be handled and kept, for the duration of your stay in a home.

For a traditional home rental or lease your security deposit is often requested up front along with the first month’s payment and sometimes the last month’s payment. The security deposit is often used at the end of the tenancy for the landlord to cover unpaid rent, damage (beyond normal wear and tear) to the rental unit and excessive cleaning (if you leave the apartment less clean that when you moved in). In California the lease of rental deposit cannot be stated as being nonrefundable. At the end of your tenancy the landlord must pay back your security deposit, unless certain deductions are legally and appropriately taken from it.

The security deposit can be called any of the following: security deposit, last month’s rent, pet deposit, key deposit/fee or cleaning fee. Each of these things are considered to be a deposit and cannot be nonrefundable. Some landlords will charge an applicant screening fee which covers the cost of obtaining and verifying information about you. This fee is not does not qualify as payment toward a deposit. On the other hand a New Tenant processing fee is for providing application forms, listing the unit, screening and interviewing the prospective tenant and other similar purposes. This type of fee can be counted as part of a security deposit. Therefore, the fees paid for this can be refundable along with the rest of the security deposit.

There are limits on how much your landlord can charge you for a security deposit. For an unfurnished rental unit the landlord cannot request more than two times the amount of the rent, plus the first month’s rent. For example, if the rent is $1000 per month, the maximum deposit amount which could be deposit and last month’s rent is $2000. Therefore the maximum amount at the signing of the lease would be $3000 which would cover the first month’s rent, the last month’s rent and security deposit. For a furnished rental, the landlord can request three times the security deposit (In this situation if the rent is $1000, the total move in would be $4000). For a situation in which the tenant has a water bed the landlord can request up to three and a half times the rent as a deposit (In this situation if the rent is $1000, the total move in would be $4500).
 The landlord has 21 calendar days to return your deposit you after you move out, OR provide you with an itemized list of things that have been deducted from the security deposit. The amount or cost of each item must be stated and broken down and the receipts must be included. If there is a balance that is still due, the list and the remaining balance should be sent by the
landlord to the tenant by the 21st calendar day.

The Legal Eagles Inc.

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