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Is it legal to make deductions from security/rental deposit for UNPAID rent, fees, and dues after tenant moves out?

Los Angeles, CA |

The Tenant only gave us 3 days notice & moved out on the 9th of the month without paying this month's rent. She refuses to pay the parking fees she previously owed due to it being a verbal contract. She was always late on paying her rent & was never previously charged for late fees although it is specified on the rental agreement. She has a small security/rental deposit with us. Are we allowed to deduct such payments from her deposit? Or should I return her security deposit less cleaning fees & damages made to the premise & separately file a small claim against her for such charges she refuses to pay prior to vacating the rental unit? Is it legal to deduct such charges from her security/rental deposit?

Attorney Answers 1


  1. Under Civil Code 1950(b), a landlord may only deduct the following items from a tenant's security deposit:
    (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.

    Under Civil Code 1950.5(g), the landlord must provide an itemized statement of deductions indicating the amount and purpose of each deduction with copies of any invoices for outside work and/or materials. If the landlord or landlords employees did the work, then there should be documentation of the work performed, time spent and hourly rate charged.

    For any other charges, you will need to file a small claims action.

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