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Understanding Security Deposits in California

What is a security deposit?

A security deposit is a sum of money paid by a tenant to a landlord before moving into a rental property. Its primary purpose is to protect the landlord against any damages to the property beyond normal wear and tear, as well as unpaid rent or utilities. In California, there are specific laws governing security deposits to ensure fairness and transparency in their handling.

Legal Requirements for Security Deposits in California

California law mandates that landlords must return a tenant’s security deposit within 21 days after they move out. This period allows landlords to assess any damages and determine the appropriate deductions from the deposit. Additionally, landlords must provide tenants with an itemized statement detailing the deductions, along with receipts or invoices for any repairs or cleaning services. 

Common Issues and Disputes

Despite these legal requirements, disputes over security deposits are not uncommon.

Some of the common issues that arise include:

  • Deductions for Normal Wear and Tear: Landlords cannot deduct from the security deposit for normal wear and tear that occurs naturally over time. This includes minor scuffs on walls, worn carpets, rusted appliances, or faded paint.
  • Failure to Provide Itemized Statement: If a landlord fails to timely provide an itemized statement which includes indicates the basis for, and the amount of, any security received and the disposition of the security, and the return any remaining portion of the security to the tenant , the landlord may forfeit their right to withhold any portion of the security deposit, and may be liable for statutory damages up to two times the amount of the security deposit.

How Nevels Nichols, LLP Can Help

At Nevels Nichols, LLP, we specialize in real estate law and have a proven track record of helping clients navigate security deposit issues. 

Our services include:

  • Legal Consultations: We offer personalized consultations to review your lease agreement, assess your rights and obligations, and provide guidance on handling security deposit matters.
  • Demand Letters: In cases where disputes arise, we can draft a demand letter for the return of your security deposit.
  • Litigation Support: If litigation becomes necessary, our experienced attorneys are prepared to advocate for you in court and pursue the best possible outcome.

Contact Us Today To Discuss Your Options

If you’re a landlord or tenant in California, facing challenges related to security deposits, don’t hesitate to reach out to Nevels Nichols, LLP. Our team is here to provide you with the legal expertise and support you need. Contact us today at (619) 374-1100 or (559) 705-1100 to schedule a consultation and protect your rights under California law.



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