California Security Deposit Laws

The return of security deposits is the most common disagreement between landlord’s and tenants. There are 4 basic laws to abide by in California when it comes to returning the security deposit.  The following four are in California Civil Code Section 1950.5 (b):

  • Unpaid Rent
  • For Cleaning the Rental unit; But this can only be for cleaning it as well as it was cleaned when the tenant first move in.
  • Damages caused by the tenant or tenant’s guest excluding normal wear and tear
  • If the lease allows it, the replacing or fixing of furnishings furnished for the rental

What is Normal Wear and Tear?

This is also one of the most popular topics of disagreement between landlords and tenants.  “Normal wear and tear” is basically the useful life of carpet, paint, fixtures, etc…   If the useful life of paint is 4 years, then a landlord cannot simply charge the tenant to repaint the entire house if the house has not been painted for the past 5 years.  If the useful life to carpet is 6 years, then the landlord cannot simply charge the tenant for changing the carpet after 7 years of not changing the carpet.  However, if the tenant hangs a plasma tv on the wall and does not repair the large holes in the wall after the useful life of painting, the landlord can charge for repairing and painting that wall.  The most important thing in preventing disagreements in regards to security deposits is to educated your owners and your tenants.

About George You

George is the owner and broker of Mission Sands Property Management and has been managing properties for the past 15 years in San Diego.