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California Civil Code Section 1950.5

Legal Research Home > California Laws > Civil Code > California Civil Code Section 1950.5

1950.5.  (a) This section applies to security for a rental agreement
for residential property that is used as the dwelling of the tenant.
   (b) As used in this section, "security" means any payment, fee,
deposit, or charge, including, but not limited to, any payment, fee,
deposit, or charge, except as provided in Section 1950.6, that is
imposed at the beginning of the tenancy to be used to reimburse the
landlord for costs associated with processing a new tenant or that is
imposed as an advance payment of rent, used or to be used for any
purpose, including, but not limited to, any of the following:
   (1) The compensation of a landlord for a tenant's default in the
payment of rent.
   (2) The repair of damages to the premises, exclusive of ordinary
wear and tear, caused by the tenant or by a guest or licensee of the
tenant.
   (3) The cleaning of the premises upon termination of the tenancy
necessary to return the unit to the same level of cleanliness it was
in at the inception of the tenancy. The amendments to this paragraph
enacted by the act adding this sentence shall apply only to tenancies
for which the tenant's right to occupy begins after January 1, 2003.
   (4) To remedy future defaults by the tenant in any obligation
under the rental agreement to restore, replace, or return personal
property or appurtenances, exclusive of ordinary wear and tear, if
the security deposit is authorized to be applied thereto by the
rental agreement.
   (c) A landlord may not demand or receive security, however
denominated, in an amount or value in excess of an amount equal to
two months' rent, in the case of unfurnished residential property,
and an amount equal to three months' rent, in the case of furnished
residential property, in addition to any rent for the first month
paid on or before initial occupancy.
   This subdivision does not prohibit an advance payment of not less
than six months' rent if the term of the lease is six months or
longer.
   This subdivision does not preclude a landlord and a tenant from
entering into a mutual agreement for the landlord, at the request of
the tenant and for a specified fee or charge, to make structural,
decorative, furnishing, or other similar alterations, if the
alterations are other than cleaning or repairing for which the
landlord may charge the previous tenant as provided by subdivision
(e).
   (d) Any security shall be held by the landlord for the tenant who
is party to the lease or agreement. The claim of a tenant to the
security shall be prior to the claim of any creditor of the landlord.
   (e) The landlord may claim of the security only those amounts as
are reasonably necessary for the purposes specified in subdivision
(b). The landlord may not assert a claim against the tenant or the
security for damages to the premises or any defective conditions that
preexisted the tenancy, for ordinary wear and tear or the effects
thereof, whether the wear and tear preexisted the tenancy or occurred
during the tenancy, or for the cumulative effects of ordinary wear
and tear occurring during any one or more tenancies.
   (f) (1) Within a reasonable time after notification of either
party's intention to terminate the tenancy, or before the end of the
lease term, the landlord shall notify the tenant in writing of his or
her option to request an initial inspection and of his or her right
to be present at the inspection. The requirements of this subdivision
do not apply when the tenancy is terminated pursuant to subdivision
(2), (3), or (4) of Section 1161 of the Code of Civil Procedure. At a
reasonable time, but no earlier than two weeks before the
termination or the end of lease date, the landlord, or an agent of
the landlord, shall, upon the request of the tenant, make an initial
inspection of the premises prior to any final inspection the landlord
makes after the tenant has vacated the premises. The purpose of the
initial inspection shall be to allow the tenant an opportunity to
remedy identified deficiencies, in a manner consistent with the
rights and obligations of the parties under the rental agreement, in
order to avoid deductions from the security. If a tenant chooses not
to request an initial inspection, the duties of the landlord under
this subdivision are discharged. If an inspection is requested, the
parties shall attempt to schedule the inspection at a mutually
acceptable date and time. The landlord shall give at least 48 hours'
prior written notice of the date and time of the inspection if either
a mutual time is agreed upon, or if a mutually agreed time cannot be
scheduled but the tenant still wishes an inspection. The tenant and
landlord may agree to forgo the 48-hour prior written notice by both
signing a written waiver. The landlord shall proceed with the
inspection whether the tenant is present or not, unless the tenant
previously withdrew his or her request for the inspection. Written
notice by the landlord shall contain, in substantially the same form,
the following:

   "State law permits former tenants to reclaim abandoned personal
property left at the former address of the tenant, subject to certain
conditions. You may or may not be able to reclaim property without
incurring additional costs, depending on the cost of storing the
property and the length of time before it is reclaimed. In general,
these costs will be lower the sooner you contact your former landlord
after being notified that property belonging to you was left behind
after you moved out."

   (2) Based on the inspection, the landlord shall give the tenant an
itemized statement specifying repairs or cleanings that are proposed
to be the basis of any deductions from the security the landlord
intends to make pursuant to paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive, of
subdivision (b). This statement shall also include the texts of
paragraphs (1) to (4), inclusive, of subdivision (b). The statement
shall be given to the tenant, if the tenant is present for the
inspection, or shall be left inside the premises.
   (3) The tenant shall have the opportunity during the period
following the initial inspection until termination of the tenancy to
remedy identified deficiencies, in a manner consistent with the
rights and obligations of the parties under the rental agreement, in
order to avoid deductions from the security.
   (4) Nothing in this subdivision shall prevent a landlord from
using the security for deductions itemized in the statement provided
for in paragraph (2) that were not cured by the tenant so long as the
deductions are for damages authorized by this section.
   (5) Nothing in this subdivision shall prevent a landlord from
using the security for any purpose specified in paragraphs (1) to
(4), inclusive, of subdivision (b) that occurs between completion of
the initial inspection and termination of the tenancy or was not
identified during the initial inspection due to the presence of a
tenant's possessions.
   (g) (1) 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
under Section 1946 or 1946.1, Section 1161 of the Code of Civil
Procedure, or not earlier than 60 calendar days prior to the
expiration of a fixed-term lease, the landlord shall furnish the
tenant, by personal delivery or by first-class mail, postage prepaid,
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. After either the landlord or the tenant provides notice to
terminate the tenancy, the landlord and tenant may mutually agree to
have the landlord deposit any remaining portion of the security
deposit electronically to a bank account or other financial
institution designated by the tenant. After either the landlord or
the tenant provides notice to terminate the tenancy, the landlord and
the tenant may also agree to have the landlord provide a copy of the
itemized statement along with the copies required by paragraph (2)
to an email account provided by the tenant.
   (2) 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.
   (3) If a repair to be done by the landlord or the landlord's
employee cannot reasonably be completed within 21 calendar days after
the tenant has vacated the premises, or if the documents from a
person or entity providing services, materials, or supplies are not
in the landlord's possession within 21 calendar days after the tenant
has vacated the premises, the landlord may deduct the amount of a
good faith estimate of the charges that will be incurred and provide
that estimate with the itemized statement. If the reason for the
estimate is because the documents from a person or entity providing
services, materials, or supplies are not in the landlord's
possession, the itemized statement shall include the name, address,
and telephone number of the person or entity. Within 14 calendar days
of completing the repair or receiving the documentation, the
landlord shall complete the requirements in paragraphs (1) and (2) in
the manner specified.
   (4) The landlord need not comply with paragraph (2) or (3) if
either of the following applies:
   (A) The deductions for repairs and cleaning together do not exceed
one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125).
   (B) The tenant waived the rights specified in paragraphs (2) and
(3). The waiver shall only be effective if it is signed by the tenant
at the same time or after a notice to terminate a tenancy under
Section 1946 or 1946.1 has been given, a notice under Section 1161 of
the Code of Civil Procedure has been given, or no earlier than 60
calendar days prior to the expiration of a fixed-term lease. The
waiver shall substantially include the text of paragraph (2).
   (5) Notwithstanding paragraph (4), the landlord shall comply with
paragraphs (2) and (3) when a tenant makes a request for
documentation within 14 calendar days after receiving the itemized
statement specified in paragraph (1). The landlord shall comply
within 14 calendar days after receiving the request from the tenant.
   (6) Any mailings to the tenant pursuant to this subdivision shall
be sent to the address provided by the tenant. If the tenant does not
provide an address, mailings pursuant to this subdivision shall be
sent to the unit that has been vacated.
   (h) Upon termination of the landlord's interest in the premises,
whether by sale, assignment, death, appointment of receiver, or
otherwise, the landlord or the landlord's agent shall, within a
reasonable time, do one of the following acts, either of which shall
relieve the landlord of further liability with respect to the
security held:
   (1) Transfer the portion of the security remaining after any
lawful deductions made under subdivision (e) to the landlord's
successor in interest. The landlord shall thereafter notify the
tenant by personal delivery or by first-class mail, postage prepaid,
of the transfer, of any claims made against the security, of the
amount of the security deposited, and of the names of the successors
in interest, their addresses, and their telephone numbers. If the
notice to the tenant is made by personal delivery, the tenant shall
acknowledge receipt of the notice and sign his or her name on the
landlord's copy of the notice.
   (2) Return the portion of the security remaining after any lawful
deductions made under subdivision (e) to the tenant, together with an
accounting as provided in subdivision (g).
   (i) Prior to the voluntary transfer of a landlord's interest in
the premises, the landlord shall deliver to the landlord's successor
in interest a written statement indicating the following:
   (1) The security remaining after any lawful deductions are made.
   (2) An itemization of any lawful deductions from any security
received.
   (3) His or her election under paragraph (1) or (2) of subdivision
(h).
   This subdivision does not affect the validity of title to the real
property transferred in violation of this subdivision.
   (j) (1) In the event of noncompliance with subdivision (h), the
landlord's successors in interest shall be jointly and severally
liable with the landlord for repayment of the security, or that
portion thereof to which the tenant is entitled, when and as provided
in subdivisions (e) and (g). A successor in interest of a landlord
may not require the tenant to post any security to replace that
amount not transferred to the tenant or successors in interest as
provided in subdivision (h), unless and until the successor in
interest first makes restitution of the initial security as provided
in paragraph (2) of subdivision (h) or provides the tenant with an
accounting as provided in subdivision (g).
   (2) This subdivision does not preclude a successor in interest
from recovering from the tenant compensatory damages that are in
excess of the security received from the landlord previously paid by
the tenant to the landlord.
   (3) Notwithstanding this subdivision, if, upon inquiry and
reasonable investigation, a landlord's successor in interest has a
good faith belief that the lawfully remaining security deposit is
transferred to him or her or returned to the tenant pursuant to
subdivision (h), he or she is not liable for damages as provided in
subdivision (l), or any security not transferred pursuant to
subdivision (h).
   (k) Upon receipt of any portion of the security under paragraph
(1) of subdivision (h), the landlord's successors in interest shall
have all of the rights and obligations of a landlord holding the
security with respect to the security.
   (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.
   (m) No lease or rental agreement may contain a provision
characterizing any security as "nonrefundable."
   (n) An action under this section may be maintained in small claims
court if the damages claimed, whether actual, statutory, or both,
are within the jurisdictional amount allowed by Section 116.220 or
116.221 of the Code of Civil Procedure.
   (o) Proof of the existence of and the amount of a security deposit
may be established by any credible evidence, including, but not
limited to, a canceled check, a receipt, a lease indicating the
requirement of a deposit as well as the amount, prior consistent
statements or actions of the landlord or tenant, or a statement under
penalty of perjury that satisfies the credibility requirements set
forth in Section 780 of the Evidence Code.
   (p) The amendments to this section made during the 1985 portion of
the 1985-86 Regular Session of the Legislature that are set forth in
subdivision (e) are declaratory of existing law.
   (q) The amendments to this section made during the 2003 portion of
the 2003-04 Regular Session of the Legislature that are set forth in
paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) are declaratory of existing law.

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Last modified: March 17, 2014