Under California Civil Code 1950.5(g), the landlord must provide the tenant with a refund of the security deposit or an itemized accounting of what has been deducted from the deposit and a refund of the remainder within 21 days. Failure to do this results in the landlord being unable to retain any of the security deposit and the tenant is able to recover twice the amount of the deposit if he can show that the landlord withheld the deposit in bad faith. Along with the itemized accounting, the landlord must also provide copies of invoices, receipts and good faith estimates of those amounts deducted from the deposit. However, a tenant may actually waive his right to receive copies of this documentation. If the tenant does so, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant with any invoices, receipts or good faith estimates.
It is often times in the landlord's best interest to obtain a waiver from the tenant in receiving copies of receipts, invoices and good faith estimates. It is in the landlord's best interest because this undeniably saves what could potentially be a large amount of work for the landlord or his agent. The landlord need not go through the tedious task of making copies of receipts and invoices if he can get a waiver to them. So, how does he do it?
Under California Civil Code Section 1950(g)(2) [effective January 1, 2009], a waiver for copies of receipts, invoices and good faith estimates must substantially include the following portion of this security deposit statute:
(g)(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,
(A) If the landlord or landlord's employee did the work, the itemized statement shall reasonably describe the work performed.
Waiver Requirements (Continued)
(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.
It may be argued by the tenant that failure to substantially include this language nullifies the waiver and the landlord is thus obligated to have provided the tenant with the pertinent documentation. Landlords and tenants alike should be aware of this statute in order to best protect their interests.
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