Real estate law in California can be complicated, and one of the most common areas of dispute involves a security deposit. A security deposit is usually a deposit the renter pays when moving in to cover potential repair costs when he or she moves out. Unfortunately, there are issues when it comes time to refund the security deposit. What are the responsibilities of the renter and the landlord?
It is the responsibility of the landlord to take every step possible to minimize potential disputes. For example, the landlord should prepare a move-out letter, letting the renter know exactly how the property should be left and how the final inspection should take place. It is also prudent for landlords to list legal deductions from the security deposit, including unpaid rent and potential repairs. Deductions cannot be taken for ordinary wear and tear. Then, the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to do a pre-move out walk-through to inspect the rental property and produce an itemized statement of deductions for the renter.
The renter is responsible for taking care of the property. When the renter moves in, he or she should note any pre-existing damage and make sure the landlord signs that statement. That way the landlord cannot charge the renter for damage that was already there. The renter must give the landlord 21 days to refund the security deposit in CA; however, if the deposit is not refunded by that time, the renter can file a lawsuit to demand the return of the deposit, in addition to a statutory penalty. In this case, it is critical to rely on a California real estate lawyer.
If you are looking for help with a security deposit dispute, then you could seek additional damages for bad faith actions. At the Katje Law Group, we provide you with access to an Orange County real estate attorney who can advocate on your behalf, so contact us today!