Security Deposit for Landlords

The following are the only reasons for withholding a tenant security deposit:
1. For unpaid rent;
2. For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in;
3. For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests; and
4. If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.
Refer to Section Civ. Code CA Lanlord Handbookfor more in depth information

For residential dwelling, the maximum security deposit is equal to Two (2) months’ rent for unfurnished dwellings; Three (3) months’ rent if furnished dwellings.

Refer to Section Civ. Code (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5 and 1940.5g) for more in depth information.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1940-1954.1

No state-wide statute or law, but 15 localities have rent control ordinances that require you to pay interest, not including San Diego, but does include Los Angeles. There is no statute in CA that requires a separate account for security deposit funds.

A bad faith claim or retention by a landlord may subject the landlord to statutory damages of up to twice the amount of the security, in addition to actual damages.
Refer to Section Civ. Code (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5(l)) for more in depth information.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1940-1954.1

In CA there is a 21 day deadline for a landlord to return security deposit refund. An acceptation can be made and an estimate of work can be delivered to the tenant at the 21 day mark if:
1. Repairs are still ongoing
2. The Landlord does not have all of the repair invoices in their possession at the 21 day mark.
Refer to Section Civ. Code (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g) for more in depth information:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1940-1954.1v

I think it is worth noting that you may not take a ‘non-refundable’ deposit of any kind regardless of how you label it. All security, pet and cleaning deposits are considered refundable. If you choose to take additional funds from a tenant for poor credit, you are better off increasing the security deposit than collecting last month rent.
Refer to Section Civ. Code (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g) for more in depth information
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1940-1954.1

Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges is only required is the total expenses are greater than $125.
Refer to Section Civ. Code (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g 4A) for more in depth information.
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1940-1954.1

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