Fundamental Rules Owners Should Follow When Collecting a Security Deposit

Generally, a security deposit is equal to one month’s rent. The purpose of a security deposit is just that: security. The deposit covers the owner in the event of property damage or a crafty tenant who tries to cut their contract short. Here at Drake Properties, we are often asked what exactly California law dictates in regards to collecting a security deposit, so here’s a simple guide.

Collecting a Security Deposit

1. Limits on security deposits: California law limits a landlord to charging the tenant the cost of two months’ rent for an unfurnished residence, three months’ rent for a furnished residence, and an additional half month’s rent for tenants with waterbeds. However, in California, a landlord may not charge the tenant nonrefundable security deposit fees.

2. Deadlines for returning security deposits: When the renter moves out, it is the responsibility of the landlord to return the security deposit within 21 days of the renter yielding the property back to the owner. This transaction is complete once the landlord is in possession of the keys and the vacated property. In addition, the owner must provide an itemized statement of deductions along with the returned security deposit.

3. Additional information landlords must provide: When it is necessary to make a deduction from the security deposit (e.g. for damage repairs, etc.) the owner must inform the renter in advance.

Looking up California law on security deposits: To find California laws on security deposits directly—this can be useful when writing a letter to your tenant wherein an appropriate citation is needed—the pertinent statutes can be found at California Civil Code §§ 1950.5 and 1940.5(g).

Collecting a security deposit is just one of the many tasks of managing your rental property. There are many more things to consider when renting out a home such as advertising, tenant screening, and lease signing, not to mention all of the work and day to day tasks after a qualified tenant has been placed. Why handle it all on your own? The experts at Drake Properties are well-versed in California landlord/tenant laws and we have an intimate knowledge of the market in the Temecula area. Our seasoned property managers can manage your property for you, while you relax and reap the benefits.

Contact us today to discover what we can do for you.