LA Eviction Lawyer / Orange County Eviction Lawyer explains the rules of Security Deposits: How much can a landlord charge and what they can be used for.
This article was made from information available on www.AttorneyInLA.net written by an LA eviction lawyer who handles eviction cases in LA and Orange Counties.
California law regarding how large a security deposit can be is relatively simple. The rules get more complex with respect to what can be included in security deposits, when the money must be returned, and for what purposes the money can be used.
How much the security deposit can be
In residential leases, California law limits the amount a landlord can charge as a security deposit. An orange county eviction lawyer can tell you the security deposit can only be 2 times monthly rent for unfurnished units (2 1/2 times if there is a water bed) and 3 times monthly rent if the unit is furnished. (3 1/2 times if there is a water bed).
What can be included in “Security Deposits”
Landlords can call the deposit a “pet deposit,’ a “cleaning deposit,” a “key fee,” “last month’s rent,” or other similar terms. Whatever the landlord calls the deposit, it is treated as a “security deposit” under the law, and the landlord is limited in collecting only 2, or 3 times the monthly rent as discussed above. Any attempt by the landlord to collect more is not legal in California. It should be noted that, in most circumstances, the landlord can charge an “application fee,” which is separate from the charges discussed above.
California Civil Code Section 1950(m) makes it clear a security deposit must be refunded at the end of the tenancy, unless part or all of it is used for a lawful purpose.
What the Security Deposit can be used for
California law allows the landlord to use money from the security deposit for
-Damage to the unit beyond “normal wear and tear”
-Any back rent owed
-Certain cleaning costs (those required to bring the unit up to how clean it was when the tenant moved in)
-Personal property not returned to the landlord (such as keys, furniture taken from the unit)
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