The landlord can require a security deposit when you move in. Security deposits include:
Your first month’s rent is not a security deposit. ”Non-refundable” security deposits are against the law.
How much can the deposit be?
No more than two months’ rent for an unfurnished unit. For a furnished unit, the deposit cannot be more than three months’ rent.
What can my deposit be used for?
When you move out, your landlord can use your deposit for:
The landlord cannot use the deposit for repairs due to “ordinary wear and tear.”
When does my landlord have to return my deposit?
The landlord must return your deposit within 21 days after you move out. If any deductions are made, the landlord must give you a written explanation. He must also give you a refund of the balance.
If your landlord does not return the deposit, or if you disagree with the amounts deducted, you can sue in Small Claims Court. For more information, contact our Small Claims Advisors at (213) 974-9759. Instead of going to court, you can also try our free mediation program to help you resolve the dispute.
What if the building is sold?
If your landlord sells the building, he must return your deposit or transfer it to the new owner. If neither happens, then both the old and new owners are responsible for returning your deposit.
Can I collect interest on a security deposit?
State law does not require landlords to pay interest on security deposits, but some local rent control laws do. Call your city’s rent control board at the following numbers:
Can the landlord increase my security deposit during my tenancy?
Yes. However, your landlord must first give you a 30-day written notice.
Your landlord may not be allowed to raise your deposit if:
Civil Code 1950.5
Contact us for more information or speak with one of our counselors at (800) 593-8222. If you live outside of Southern California, call us at (213) 974-1452.
Updated June 29, 2012
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