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Documenting deductions from a security deposit

Landlords in Santa Cruz may approach the dates that tenants vacate their properties with a certain amount of trepidation. They could discover that the properties were poorly maintained, and that extensive repairs (or at the very least, a thorough cleaning) are needed before they can be rented again. Of course, they may expect the tenants to cover those costs through their security deposits. It may come as little surprise to learn, then, that Findlaw lists security deposit disputes as being the common problems between landlords and tenants. 

Even in cases where tenants accept that they should be liable for some of the costs to restore a property, they will likely scrutinize their landlords' use of security deposit money very carefully. Landlords should know, then, exactly what proof of deductions they are required to provide from a security deposit. Per California's Civil Code, a landlord must provide a tenant with an itemized statement detailing deductions from the tenant's security deposit within either 60 calendar days prior to the expiration of a fixed-term lease or 21 days after the property was vacated. That statement should detail the services performed to repair and/or clean the unit, or a bill, invoice or receipt for services done by a third party. A bill for any materials used in the cleaning or repair must also be included. 

If needed cleaning or repairs cannot be completed in that time frame, the landowner may deduct a good faith amount to cover them. He or she must then include details of the actual cost after the work is done. A landlord does not need to provide the aforementioned documentation if the cleaning or repair costs are less than $125, or if the tenant agrees to waive the right to receive such documentation in his or her lease.  

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