Real Estate Law
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Unfortunately, the law is that you only have 21 days after a tenant has surrendered possession to deliver an itemized list of damages and any refund of a security deposit. (California Civil Code §§ 1950.5 ).
However, although this may sound odd, you don't waive your rights to pursue damages, you just lose the right to retain any of the security deposit. So you can still sue the tenant in small claims court for any damages, you just have to refund all their deposit money.
As an aside, in addition to being an attorney, I have also been a landlord for over 26 years...