Collecting security deposits for a rental property is an essential process as the deposit covers the cost of damage done to the property by the tenant. The State of California decides the amount to charge as a security deposit. It also requires the leasing parties to abide by certain Security Deposit laws. So, once the tenant moves out of the rental, you have 21 days to return the security deposit in full, or you can send them a letter explaining all the deductions in detail. However, the owner can withhold the security deposit on necessary and reasonable occasions.
Let us take a look at the various factors that affect the full return of the security deposit.
Excessive Damage to Your Long Beach Property
If a renter causes excessive damage to the property, above and beyond normal wear and tear, then the landlord is allowed to withhold their deposit. However, it is essential to know how intentional damage differs from normal wear and tear. Some signs of normal wear and tear are carpet stains, scratches on marble, tarnish on fixtures, and settling dust and grime due to use.
On the other hand, signs of property damage include noticeable and large holes in the walls, broken doors or windows, cracked countertops, huge holes in the carpet, and other results of the renter’s negligence.
Non-payment of Rent
Some tenants fail to pay rent even after receiving notices from the landlord. If a renter has substantial unpaid rent, the owner can withhold the security deposit and deduct a portion of it to make up for the lost rent. However, non-payment of rent is also considered a breach of the lease, so the owner is also allowed to send them an eviction notice.
Eviction or Premature Lease Termination
Evicted tenants often try to evade paying rent for the last month. In such cases, the landlord can deduct it from their security deposit. Similarly, if the tenant terminates the lease early without giving proper notice, the landlord can still deduct an extra month’s rent from the tenant’s security deposit. However, if a renter breaks the lease, the owner can withhold all or a part of the security deposit as necessary.
Unpaid Utilities or HOA Fees
For a tenant who has failed to pay the utility bills or charges like HOA fees, you can withhold the security deposit and use it to cover the costs of neglected utilities.
Mounting Clean-Up Costs
A rental owner cannot deduct any amount from the security deposit to cover the regular cleaning costs of the property. However, if the tenant fails to maintain the rental up to required hygiene standards and has continuously kept the property in an unclean condition, then the landlord may be allowed to withhold the security deposit to cover the cleaning expenses.
These are the factors that can affect the security deposit returns. We recommend taking assistance from an experienced property manager in California to understand when and if you can withhold the deposit.
At HCM Property Management, we are experts in providing personalized services to tenants and rental owners in Southern California, especially in Orange County and Los Angeles County. Our goal is to help our clients maximize their cash flow, minimize hassles, and ensure that our client’s property is carefully maintained.
For more information, reach out to us at HCM Property Management.