Per CCS 1950.5, "...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..."
My lease contains this language "Right to Pre-Move-Out Inspection and Repairs: (i) After giving or receiving notice of termination of a tenancy (C.A.R. Form NTT), or before the end of a lease, Tenant has the right to request that an inspection of the Premises take place prior to termination of the lease or rental..."
Some have said the lease notice satisfies CCS 1950.5. I contend it does not. In fact, CAR already has an option form available (C.A.R. Form NRI, Revised 4/11).
So if tenant was never given written option, and only the lease as notice, and was unable to schedule an inspection, what happens?
The notice in the lease itself, without another notice at the end of the tenancy, would not be sufficient for purposes of Civil Code section 1950.5.
As a tenant, you have the right to claim your security deposit.
Under California Civil Code section 1950.5, within 21 calendar days after a tenant moves out, the landlord must either send a full refund of the security deposit, or mail or personally deliver to the tenant an itemized statement that lists the amounts of any deductions from the security deposit and the reasons for the deductions, together with a refund of any amounts not deducted.
Pursuant to Civil Code section 1950.5, the landlord may only use the tenant's security deposit for four purposes:
1) For unpaid rent;
2) For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out (but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in);
3) For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant's guests; and
4) If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property other than because of normal wear and tear.
According to the California Supreme Court decision in the case of Granberry v. Islay Investments (1995) 9 Cal.4th 738, 745, after the 21 days have transpired, the landlord loses the right to keep any of the security deposit and must return the entire deposit to the tenant.
Also, if the tenant proves to the court that the landlord acted in "bad faith" in refusing to return your security deposit, the court can order the landlord to pay the tenant the amount of the improperly withheld deposit, plus up to twice the amount of the security deposit as a "bad faith" penalty. (Civil Code Section 1950.5(l).)
Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.
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