Legal Q&A: What can legally be deducted from security deposit?


Question: I have heard five different answers from five different people. Please, tell me what I can legally deduct from my tenant’s security deposit.

Answer: Rights and obligations regarding a residential tenants’ security deposit are governed by California Civil Code Section 1950.5. It is clear that you can use the deposit at least for cleaning, delinquent rent and damages above ordinary wear and tear. What is considered ordinary “wear and tear” is subject to a variety of opinions by judges. In order to convince a court that the damages were extraordinary, check-in and check-out records of the condition of the apartment, pictures, receipts and opinions from those who did the work make the job of determining ordinary wear and tear easier for the court to decide.

Question: I served a 60-day notice that expires on the 15th of the month. How much rent should I accept for the month in which the notice expires?

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