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Are you getting ready to move and rent a new place to live? If so, here are some helpful parameters regarding your security deposit and what Landlords can and cannot do.

Key Rights and Responsibilities:

  • Deposit Amount: Cannot exceed TWO months’ rent for unfurnished unit or THREE

      months’ rent for furnished units. Legislation to cap security deposits to ONE month’s rent

is still pending. The link is below for anyone wanting to follow this legislation.


  • Return of deposit: Tenant is entitled to return of their deposit within 21 days of move out.


  • Deductions from deposit: Landlord CANNOT deduct for normal wear and tear.

Landlord CAN deduct to repair damage to the unit. Deductions must be documented in

writing by the landlord.


  • Protect your deposit: Document the unit’s condition when you move in and move out:


  1. Move in inspection: Before MOVING IN do a walkthrough inspection using a checklist. Note any damage and take PHOTOS of the interior and exterior. Keep this in a safe place. You will need it when you move out.


  1. Demand a pre-move out inspection: Two weeks before you MOVE OUT demand the landlord inspect your unit and provide an itemized list of repairs needed. Fix anything identified before moving out


  1. Move out Inspection: On the day you move when everything is cleared out, ask the landlord to inspect your unit to confirm everything on the itemized list have been resolved. Take PHOTOS for your records. It will help your case if any disputes arise.


  • Always give proper notice: Give landlord written notice, normally 30 days, when you are

      going to vacate. If you don’t, rent can be deducted from your deposit.


  • When deposit is not returned: If your landlord fails to return your deposit within 21

      days, or takes improper deductions from your deposit, you can sue them in SMALL

CLAIMS COURT. An owner who in bad faith keeps the security deposit, may be ordered to

pay you up to twice the amount of the security deposit plus actual damages.


Other information is available at:

If you are having difficulty getting your security deposit back, contact Contract Costa Senior Legal Services so one of our attorneys can assist you.