If you're like many people who plan to move to one of the Chico apartments in town, you've probably already carefully budgeted your expenses -- from your moving costs to your first month's rent.
So as you review your lease, a clause addressing a security deposit has taken you by surprise. You've heard the term, but aren't quite sure who to ask about exactly what it covers, why it's necessary and how you get it back.
You're smart to ask questions –- and you deserve the answers, straight from the people who have mitigated property owner-resident conflicts over security deposits: the California court system.
What is a Security Deposit?
A security deposit literally provides security to the property owner/manager in case the resident breaks or violates the terms of the lease agreement. It can be used to pay for cleaning or repairing damages to a property, replacing keys or paying back rent.
How Much Of a Security Deposit Am I Required To Pay?
There are limits on the amount you may be asked to pay on a Chico apartment:
- If the security deposit is for a residential property without furniture, it may equal two times the monthly rent.
- If the property is furnished, the property owner may charge up to three times the monthly rent.
Is a Security Deposit Really Necessary?
From the property owner’s/manager's point of view it is. But the owner/manager must exercise fairness, deducting only:
- The cost of fixing any damages to the property caused by the resident or the resident’s guests. This provision excludes “ordinary and reasonable wear and tear." Put another way, the property owner cannot force a resident to pay for paint, new carpeting or new window treatments unless they are damaged beyond “ordinary and reasonable wear and tear.” In addition, the property owner cannot use any portion of the security deposit to fix problems that existed on the property [in the apartment] before the resident moved in.
- The cost of cleaning the property [apartment] when the resident moves out, "but only to make it as clean as it was when the resident moved in (minus reasonable wear and tear)."
- Unpaid rent (including rent owed if the resident does not give the property owner/manager proper notice that he or she is moving out).
When Will I Get My Security Deposit Back?
After a resident moves out of a Chico apartment, the property owner/manager has 21 days, by law, to:
- Return the security deposit in full or
- Mail or personally give the resident:
- A written letter explaining why he or she is keeping all or part of the security deposit
- An itemized list of each of the deductions
- Any remaining refund of the security deposit
- Copies of receipts for the charges/deductions, “unless repairs cost less than $126 or unless the resident waived his or her right to get the receipts when signing the lease. If the repairs cannot be finished within 21 days, the property owner can send the resident a good-faith estimate of the cost of repairs. Then, within 14 days of the repairs being done, the property owner must send the receipts to the resident.”
What If The Property Owner/Manager Doesn’t Return My Security Deposit Within 21 Days?
The resident can exercise several successfully aggressive courses of action:
- Send a letter to the property owner/manager appealing the decision.
- Reach out to a mediator to help resolve the dispute.
- File a lawsuit in small claims court.
Security deposits have become so universal that it would be uncommon to find a complex in any of the listed Chico apartments in town that did not require one. Now that you know the basics of security deposits, check out the beautiful complexes we have throughout Chico, California.