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rayanswers
rayanswers, Lawyer
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 37038
Experience:  30 years as a Texas lawyer dealing in landlord tenant
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In California, when does the security deposit need be

Customer Question

In California, when does the security deposit need be returned with an accounting of deductions. Is it three weeks? What happens if it is a week or two late? Does the landlord have to return all of the deposit to tenant though there are numerous valid deductions?
Submitted: 3 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

Hi and welcome to JA. Ray here to help you today.Please bear with me a few moments while I review your question and respond.

Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

Under California law, a landlord must return the renter's security deposit, with an itemized statement of deductions, within 21 days after the renter has surrendered the rental property to the landlord (that is, returned the keys and vacated the property).

Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

If the landlord is out of date here he no longer has legal authority to keep the deposit and must refund it to the tenant.

Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/california-security-deposits-36199.html

I appreciate the chance to help you today.Thanks again.

Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

Please don't shoot the messenger here, you have to send the tenant itemized list of charges within 21 days or else you are out of compliance and no longer have authority to withhold.Just trying to give you honest information here.?Thanks again.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
but is there any penalty for not doing so? I tried to explain in my question that I submitted an accounting a week or so late but it was a full accounting of the funds, actually where the tenant still owes me. What is the penalty, if any, for being a couple of weeks late?
Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

The penalty here is that if tenant sues you for the deposit the court would find in their favor since you did not comply with the statute.Trying to be honest here California is strict either you did it timely or not.If you were late and they sue you in small claims they would likely prevail.And they would get their costs here too.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Essentially they got their deposit back though through the credit on the accounting. So how does that play out? They sue me for the deposit and I counter-sue for the amounts on the accounting?
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
ps. They never returned their keys either (they were evicted).
Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

Yes it likely washes here.Since they were evicted this might make it hard for them to prevail.Maybe you wait and see if they let this go.They owed you here as well so it may offset.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thanks
Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I'm curious. Why would it make it harder for them to prevail on the basis of their being evicted.
Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

Well you could claim the delay here was because of the eviction and that you were involved in that and delayed in inspecting it , getting estimates, etc while you were also trying to evict.Gives you some arguments.

I mean it might be different if they gave proper notice with clean record and you simply forgot to give them deposit back.Here they were bad tenants, you had to evict them, imagine you were pretty busy during this time.You eventually got them the itemized charges so hard for them to claim they didn't get it even if delayed a bit.Hopefully these guys go away and this does too.

Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

Lynn thanks again for the chance to help.If you can rate 5 stars when we are done it is always much appreciated.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
This isn't going away. Please answer my first question : Is there a penalty in California for not getting the security deposit and/or accounting back to the tenant timely? If so, what is it? Double or treble damage?
Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

Tenant can sue for return of deposit here and filing fees in small claims

Security Deposit Disputes

If a landlord does not return the entire amount of the tenant’s security deposit within the 21 days required by law, and the tenant disputes the deductions from the deposit:

If the tenant and landlord cannot reach an agreement on the amount of the security deposit returned, the tenant can file a lawsuit against the landlord for return of the security deposit. The tenant can sue for:

  • The amount of the deposit, plus
  • Twice the amount of the security deposit in damages. The judge may give the tenant these additional damages if the landlord retained the deposit in bad faith.

The tenant can sue the landlord in small claims, which is informal and inexpensive, as long as the total amount sued for is $10,000 or less. Click for more information on Small Claims.

The tenant and landlord can also try a local consumer mediation program to see if they can resolve their dispute out of court. Find for more information on mediating your security deposit dispute.

Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

l) The bad faith claim or retention by a landlord or the landlord’s successors in interest of the security or any portion thereof in violation of this section, or the bad faith demand of replacement security in violation of subdivision (j), may subject the landlord or the landlord’s successors in interest to statutory damages of up to twice the amount of the security, in addition to actual damages. The court may award damages for bad faith whenever the facts warrant that award, regardless of whether the injured party has specifically requested relief. In an action under this section, the landlord or the landlord’s successors in interest shall have the burden of proof as to the reasonableness of the amounts claimed or the authority pursuant to this section to demand additional security deposits.

http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&sectionNum=1950.5

Here are the damages under the statute, bad faith finding here if it was not timely mailed.

If you can positive rate it is much appreciated.Thanks.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
Thanks. That is precisely what I needed.
Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

You are so welcome.If you can rate 5 stars it is always much appreciated.

Customer: replied 3 months ago.
I will.
Expert:  rayanswers replied 3 months ago.

take care now and thanks again.