November 12, 2021

What a landlord needs to know in regards to Security Deposits

Landlord Tips For Security Deposits

Security deposits provide a number of things for landlords. First, they separate the wheat from the chaff by filtering how serious possible tenants are about renting. Secondly, security deposits provide a resource for landlords if the tenant ends up leaving the rental unit with damage. It’s a common problem, and the deposit helps offset the cost of report the landlord is ultimately stuck with. Finally, a deposit insures the landlord is paid if a tenant decides to leave early and not pay up the last month of rent.

However, security deposits are not an open-ended affair. Because housing is limited in California, state law has intervened and spelled out how deposits can be applied and treated. It’s a landlord’s responsibility to know these rules and follow correctly.

The Specifics Of The Deposit

On average, security deposits tend to be equal to one month’s rent. However, the legal cap in California by law is two months’ rent total. The only exception is three months’ rent if the unit was furnished by the landlord versus just being an empty unit. The other exception, which works in the favor of the renter, is a limit of one month and two months for furnished when the tenant is an active military. Finally, a waterbed will get a tenant an add-on of a half-month of rent to the limit in any situation. Details can be confirmed with a real estate attorney in CA resource.

When The Deposit Is Due Back

Once the tenant has moved out and the unit is legally in the control of the landlord again, a 21-day clock starts in which the landlord has to return the funds by the end of the period, less any legal costs for recovery. That clock doesn’t start until the landlord has the keys to the unit and full control of it, including all furnishings. If there is going to be a deduction, the landlord is required to spell out what the charges are and how much, i.e. be specific about what repairs were applied.

The Brockmeier Law Group is available to help landlords confused by how to apply the law to their properties. As a California real estate law attorney, the Brockmeier Group has helped dozens of landlords navigate security deposits and avoid common pitfalls that create costly mistakes.