If you or your family or roomates have ever moved out of an apartment complex only to be told by the landlord that you will not be receiving return of your full security deposit, you may have the right to sue the landlord, depending on the circumstances surounding the Landlord’s alleged basis for retaining your deposit and the documentation the Landlord provided you. Remember, when you move out, the security deposit belongs to you the tenant unless the Landlord can show statutorily permissible reasons for retaining any portion of it. Below are some, but not all of the landlords obligations when attempting to retain some or all of your security deposit.
Documentation the Landlord Must Provide you in order to retain your Security Deposit:
- No later than 21 calendar days after the tenant has vacated the premises, but not earlier than the time that either the landlord or the tenant provides a notice to terminate the tenancy […] the landlord shall furnish the tenant, […] a copy of an itemized statement indicating the basis for, and the amount of, any security received and the disposition of the security, and shall return any remaining portion of the security to the tenant.
- If the landlord retains more than $125 of the deposit, then along with the itemized statement, the landlord shall also include copies of documents showing charges incurred and deducted by the landlord to repair or clean the premises, as follows:
(A) If the landlord or landlord’s employee did the work, the itemized statement shall reasonably describe the work performed. The itemized statement shall include the time spent and the reasonable hourly rate charged.
(B) If the landlord or landlord’s employee did not do the work, the landlord shall provide the tenant a copy of the bill, invoice, or receipt supplied by the person or entity performing the work. The itemized statement shall provide the tenant with the name, address, and telephone number of the person or entity, if the bill, invoice, or receipt does not include that information.
(C) If a deduction is made for materials or supplies, the landlord shall provide a copy of the bill, invoice, or receipt. If a particular material or supply item is purchased by the landlord on an ongoing basis, the landlord may document the cost of the item by providing a copy of a bill, invoice, receipt, vendor price list, or other vendor document that reasonably documents the cost of the item used in the repair or cleaning of the unit.
(See, California Civil Code section 1950.5(g)(1) & (2).)