A.D. Cantelmo Property Management
Our Business is Property Management in Orange County California
Resolving security deposit issues
The most disputed part of renting property is the Security
deposit. Having a security deposit is vital for a Landlord to protect their
property from a Tenant leaving the property in disarray, or owing the Landlord
money. The problems start, not when the security deposit is received, but when
it is time to return the deposit back to the Tenant at the end of the Tenancy.
What is a Security Deposit
Every Tenant understands that when they apply to rent a
property, the Landlord or Property Manager is going to ask for a Security
deposit. The security deposit can be called , “Security Deposit”, “Last Month’s Rent”, ”Pet Deposit”, “Key Fee”
or “Cleaning Fee”. A security deposit cannot be stated on the lease as NON
Security Deposit Rules
In California, A landlord can ask for 2x the amount of rent for an unfurnished
property as a security deposit. This security deposit is a refundable deposit
if the Tenant follows rules and leaves the property in the same condition as
when they moved in. The Landlord in addition to a security deposit can ask for
the first month’s rent and also a non refundable screening fee. If you charge
the full 2x deposit, no other fee other then the screening fee can be required.
For example, let’s say you are renting an unfurnished
property for $1000.00 per month. You charge the Tenant a $2000.00 security
deposit. You cannot then charge a $50 key fee. You cannot go over the 2x amount
other then the screening fee.
A security deposit for a furnished property can be three
times the amount of rent and all the same rules apply.
If a Tenant has a waterbed, then 1/2 of one months rent can be added to the total deposit.
Security Deposit issues
The problems arise when the Tenant moves out. The Landlord
has to make the decision whether the property has been taken care of or are
there deductions that need to be made from the security deposit. These
deductions can be disputed and often are from the Tenant.
The first question is, has the Tenant left the property
owing the Landlord money, that can be deducted from the security deposit.
Next, is the property as clean as it was when the Tenant
moved in, if not, a cleaning fee can be deducted from the security deposit.
The next issue, has the property been damaged and if so, how
much will it cost to do the repairs. That cost can be deducted from the
Returning the Deposit
The landlord has 21 days to return the security deposit and
any receipts or repair bids that are being deducted from the deposit.
If the Tenant disputes the deductions and the Landlord
refuses to return the money the Tenant asks for, the Tenant can take legal
action to remedy the situation. From my experience, Judges always lean towards
the Tenant when it comes to security deposits and require Landlords to be very precise
when it comes to proof that they deserve the amount they deducted.
A big problem that many Landlords have is that when it comes
time to return the security deposit, they may have spent the money and do not
have the money to give back, so they look for reasons to deduct from the
deposit. This creates all kinds of problems. As a Property Manager, I have
faced many furious Tenants looking for answers from me, as to why the Landlord
deducted money. If the Landlord holds the deposit, I have no control over what
is returned I can only advise the Landlord. The Tenant takes their anger out on
me, because I am the face of the property and I understand that. I have been
yelled at, cursed at, and threatened, but I do understand the rage especially
if I feel the Landlord is not justified in their deductions. Usually the Tenant
will take the hit and not challenge in court.
The rules regarding what can be deducted and what is normal wear
and tear can be complicated, but keeping good records when the Tenant moves in
will help with any disputes. Taking pictures is the best way to show the
condition of the property when a Tenant moves in and will be the best proof for
a Landlord and also a Tenant if the dispute goes to court.
A.D. Cantelmo Property
Management Specializes in Property Management in Orange County