Or, the landlord must mail (1st class) or personally deliver the letter of security deposit? Lastly, what is the specific California Civil Code Section or case that allows notification via email? Thanks, CK in San Diego, CA
I am not entirely sure what you mean by "if tenant has responded". Are you saying the former tenant contacted the landlord and asked that the landlord communicate through email because the tenant did not provide a forwarding mailing address?
California Civil Code section 1950.5 is the code section that covers security deposits for residential tenancies. There is nothing currently under California law which permits (or prohibits) notification by email.
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.
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, consult with your own attorney.
To add to what Mr. Chen said, if the tenant demanded a pre move-out inspection, and you fail to accommodate that, or advise of the tenant's right to request one, you would be precluded from making any deductions from the security deposit and would have to file a separate suit, perhaps in small claims, to be reimbursed for damages. See Civil Code 1950.5(f) which states: 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.
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