How Long Does Landlord Have To Return Deposit

Landlord Protection How Long Does Landlord Have To Return Deposit

How Long Does Your Landlord Have to Return Your Deposit

More than one million Californians are behind on their rent payments, and half of them might get evicted. With some safety nets protecting the tenants against illegal evictions, neglecting repairseviction threats, and rent hikes gone, tenants are afraid of what's coming from the landlords. Worse still, landlords may take longer to return tenants' security deposit or retain it all together.

While you can ask for your security deposit back, engaging with a landlord isn't always a welcome idea. In some cases, you might require to sue the landlord. But if you don't know where to start or lack the necessary knowledge, or tenants' rights, you might lose your security deposit.

But, read on to know how DoNotPay will ensure you don't.

California Security Deposit Laws

California Civil Code 1950.5 contains California's statutes regarding security deposits. These statutes govern and outline the way landlords in California should handle tenants' security deposits. They dictate how long the landlords should retain your security deposits when to refund either partly or in full, deductibles, and how to settle any disputes arising.

It's, therefore, vital for all parties involved to comply with these statutes to avoid any disputes.

What Does a Security Deposit Entail?

Before knowing how long a landlord retains your security deposit in California, first understand what security deposits are.

A security deposit is any money you give a landlord apart from advanced rent payment before the beginning of a lease. The landlord asks for the security deposit to protect their property against any violations on the lease agreement, damage, repairs or replacements, cleaning, or rent back.

In California, there's a limit to security deposits as follows;

  • Residential units without furniture – 2 times the rent
  • Furnished residential units – 3 times the rent
  • Commercial units – no limits/restrictions

Furthermore, all security deposits in California are refundable. So, once your lease has expired and you move out, the law dictates the landlord must return your security deposit. If they fail to, DoNotPay can assist you in lodging a complaint against them in small claims court.

When Does a Landlord Have to Return a Security Deposit?

California law is clear on this, once your lease expires and you move out of the premises, the landlord has 21 calendar days to refund your security deposit in whole or in part.

Additionally, the landlords must mail or hand you;

  • A written letter detailing the reason for retaining all or part of the deposit
  • Itemized list of each of the deductions
  • The remainder of the security deposit, if any
  • Copies of the receipts for all the deductions, except if the repairs were less than $216 or you gave up the right to receive receipts. If the 21 days aren't enough to accommodate the repairs, the landlord should send you a good faith approximate of the repairs' costs and the receipts 14 days within the repairs completion date.

What Should the Landlord Deduct From Your Security Deposit?

While the law is evident when a landlord should retain your deposit, it's also clear what the landlord can deduct from the deposit.

The law allows the landlord to deduct:

  1. Any rent defaults
  2. Costs of fixing damages you caused above the normal wear and tear
  3. Costs of cleaning the rental unit after you moved out, but to return it to the condition it was before you moved in
  4. Any future charges due to your violations of the lease

California law prohibits the landlord from deducting:

  1. Costs of fixing any pre-existing damages before you moved in
  2. Fees to cover ordinary wear and tear, such as faded pain job

It's vital to know that your security deposit should be transferred to the new owner if the rental property is sold mid-lease. They should refund your deposit in full or the part you are entitled to when you move out.

If the previous landlord fails to transfer the deposit, you can sue them for damages.

The best way to handle issues with repairs is to maintain a clear record of all the repairs throughout your tenancy. Begin with taking photos of the rental unit before moving in. In case of any repairs during your tenancy, ensure you draft a letter detailing the repairs required to the landlord. Upon moving out, you can compare the itemized list of each deduction from the landlord with your repair list.

The Landlord Missed the Deadline per the Law; You Can Get the Deposit on Your Own

When your landlord fails to refund the security deposit within the 21 calendar days as mandated by the law, they are violating your renters' rights to your security deposit. If you feel the deductions made were unfair or failed to send an itemized list of each deduction, you can write a demand letter detailing:

  • The particulars of the rental unit in question, including the address and the lease dates
  • Amount of security deposit you paid
  • Reasons you should receive the full security deposit or part of it
  • Fines for failing to refund the deposit on time
  • The dates the refund was due
  • The date you expect to receive the deposit
  • Your current address
  • A clear statement that notifies the landlord of your intentions to pursue legal action should they fail to refund the deposit.

A demand letter is a proper way to demand your deposit on your own before taking legal action. However, you must write the letter appropriately and send it via certified mail with a return receipt requested to certify the landlord received your letter.

The truth is, writing a security deposit demand letter is tedious. You have to scroll through numerous templates in search of the best way to craft the letter, find a certified mail carrier, and send the letter. These require time, effort, and using resources that you might not have. That's why you need a better plan, like DoNotPay.

Next Steps for Getting Your Security Deposit Back if You Can’t Do It Yourself

Unfortunately, the demand letter might not work, and the landlord might fail to refund your security deposit. That's not the end of the road. You can pursue other avenues to claim your deposit:

  • Pursue mediation via a local consumer mediation program. Through mediation, you can reach an amicable solution and understanding of the dispute.
  • If mediation fails, DoNotPay can help you file a case against the landlord in small claims court. However, you can only sue the landlord in small claims court if the deposit is $10,000 or less. Furthermore, you have four years after moving out to bring legal action against the landlord if the lease was in written form and two years for an oral lease.

If the court rules in your favor or finds the landlord retained your deposit in bad faith, it can fine them the full security deposit plus twice the deposit amount in damages.

How to Send a Security Deposit Demand Letter in California With DoNotPay

If you don't know where to start writing a security deposit demand letter or don't have the time or resources to do so, no worries, we've got you sorted. DoNotPay will help ensure you get that security deposit from the landlord in four easy steps:

  1. Search for and open the Landlord Protection product on DoNotPay.
  2. Select which issue applies to you.
  3. Answer a simple set of questions so our chatbots can collect the necessary information to create your demand letter.
  4. Choose whether you want DoNotPay to send the demand letter to your landlord or roommate on your behalf. If you already tried sending a demand letter and it didn't work, we can help you start the small claims court process.

Why Use DoNotPay To Send a Security Deposit Demand Letter in California

Knowing how long a landlord should retain your security deposit is not enough. You need a law partner that can help you send a demand letter claiming your deposit. At DoNotPay, we are the ideal partner, and we promise you:

  • Fast and convenient processes
  • Super Easy procedures without any tedious or annoying forms to fill
  • Successful results
  • To connect to a wide range of parties/companies/entities with a click of a button.
  • To save your time and resources.

What Else Can DoNotPay Do?

Fighting for your renters' rights to get your security depot back is a tiny part of our abilities. We know and understand the challenges you may be going through, and we have possible solutions to them. So, we have solutions for challenges, including:

Craft a wide range of standardized legal documentsFind your missing moneyHelp you understand the Freedom of Information Act
Sue any party in small claims courtsTell you how to evict your roommate as per the lawNotarize a wide range of documents

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