Resolving Issues With Security Deposits

There are laws that must be followed and tenants' rights that must be honored if a landlord attempts to withhold a security deposit.

At the Law Offices of James Coy Driscoll, our attorney can help you if you are having problems recovering your security deposit.

Contact us online or call (415) 523-5591 to schedule an appointment to discuss your situation. From our office in San Francisco, we serve clients throughout the Bay Area.

How Does The Law Treat Security Deposits?

Any amount of money that a landlord takes other than rent is considered to be a security deposit. Under California law, a security deposit for residential, unfurnished property may only equal two times the rent. A landlord may charge up to three times the rent if the unit is furnished. In addition, a landlord may not collect more than six months worth of rent in advance.

A landlord may not collect unrefundable security deposits or other fees such as cleaning fee or a key deposit. San Francisco and other Bay Area cities also require landlords to pay annual interest on security deposits.

As A Tenant, You Have Rights Of Inspection And Explanation

Either you or your landlord can give written notice to terminate the tenancy within a time period specified by law. When this happens, your landlord must offer you a pre-move-out inspection. This gives you the opportunity to correct any problems with the property before the security deposit is used to make repairs.

Landlords will often demand that professionals be brought in to cure any problems, but this is not something that is always required.

Following an inspection, your landlord is required to provide a written explanation of any damage. Claims by the landlord must be reasonable and confined to the unit.

How Soon Must Landlords Return Your Deposit?

After a tenant has vacated the unit, the landlord has 21 days to refund the entire security deposit. If any amount is withheld, the landlord must give the tenant a written explanation and an itemized list detailing what the funds are being withheld for and why.

Landlords usually must also provide estimates for the work and receipts. The landlord cannot make deductions from the security deposit for ordinary wear and tear on the unit.

In short, California has strong protections for tenants' security deposits. Even if the landlord's property is in foreclosure, the purchaser may have a duty to refund the security deposit to the tenant when the tenant moves out.

We Can Handle Any Security Deposit-Related Issue For You

If you are moving out of the area and are concerned that your landlord will try to withhold your security deposit because it will be more difficult for you to contest this action, we can help you plan for this possibility. No matter what type of deposit issue you are facing, we can advise you of the best course of action.

Contact An Experienced Lawyer

We can help you understand your rights as a tenant and what legal options are available to you. Contact us online or call (415) 523-5591 for a free phone consultation to discuss your case.