Can My Landlord Increase My Security Deposit in California

A landlord generally cannot increase your security deposit in California during your tenancy. The security deposit remains the same for the entire lease term, and the landlord can’t demand additional money. An exception is when your lease agreement allows for an increase in the security deposit. This increase can only happen at the beginning of each renewal period stated in your lease, and it can’t exceed the maximum amount allowed by law. If your landlord attempts to increase your security deposit without meeting these conditions, you can refuse, and they cannot retaliate against you. If you have any concerns, you should review your lease agreement carefully and speak with the landlord directly.

Security Deposit Regulations in California

In California, security deposits for residential properties are regulated by the state’s Civil Code. The following are some key provisions of the law:

Maximum Security Deposit Amount:

  • The maximum security deposit that a landlord can charge is two months’ rent for unfurnished properties and three months’ rent for furnished properties.
  • If the security deposit is more than two months’ rent, the landlord must provide the tenant with a written explanation of the additional charges.

Refund of Security Deposit:

  • The landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant within 21 days of the termination of the tenancy.
  • If the landlord fails to return the security deposit within 21 days, the tenant can sue the landlord in small claims court.

Permissible Deductions from Security Deposit:

  • The landlord can only deduct from the security deposit for unpaid rent, damages to the property, and cleaning fees.
  • The landlord must provide the tenant with a written statement of the deductions within 21 days of the termination of the tenancy.
  • The tenant can dispute the deductions by filing a small claims court action.

Landlord’s Duty to Maintain Property:

  • The landlord is responsible for maintaining the property in a habitable condition.
  • If the landlord fails to maintain the property, the tenant may be entitled to withhold rent or terminate the tenancy.

The following table summarizes the key provisions of California’s security deposit law:

Maximum security depositTwo months’ rent for unfurnished properties, three months’ rent for furnished properties
Refund of security depositWithin 21 days of termination of tenancy
Permissible deductions from security depositUnpaid rent, damages to property, cleaning fees
Landlord’s duty to maintain propertyMaintain property in habitable condition

Permissible Reasons for Increasing Security Deposit

In general, California law prohibits landlords from increasing security deposits during a tenancy. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule. A landlord may increase the security deposit in the following circumstances:

  • At the beginning of a new lease term: A landlord may increase the security deposit at the beginning of a new lease term, provided that the increase is reasonable and does not exceed the maximum amount allowed by law.
  • To cover damages caused by the tenant: A landlord may increase the security deposit to cover the cost of damages caused by the tenant. The increase must be reasonable and proportionate to the cost of the damages.
  • To cover increased costs: A landlord may increase the security deposit to cover increased costs, such as property taxes or insurance premiums. The increase must be reasonable and must be approved by the tenant.

If a landlord wants to increase the security deposit, they must provide the tenant with written notice of the increase at least 30 days before the increase takes effect. The notice must state the amount of the increase and the reason for the increase. The tenant has the right to object to the increase by filing a petition with the local rent board.

Security Deposit Increase Limits

There are limits on the amount of security deposit that a landlord can charge. The maximum amount of security deposit that a landlord can charge is:

Type of PropertyMaximum Security Deposit
UnfurnishedTwo months’ rent
FurnishedThree months’ rent

If a landlord charges a security deposit in excess of the maximum amount allowed by law, the tenant may be able to recover the excess amount.

Proper Notice Requirements for Rent Increase

In California, landlords must provide written notice to tenants before increasing the rent. The notice period varies depending on the length of the tenancy and the amount of the rent increase. Here are the specific notice requirements:

  • Month-to-Month Tenancies: Landlords must provide at least 30 days’ written notice before increasing the rent. The notice must be delivered to the tenant in person, by mail, or by electronic means.
  • Fixed-Term Leases: Landlords cannot increase the rent during the lease term unless the lease agreement specifically allows for rent increases. If the lease agreement allows for rent increases, the landlord must provide at least 60 days’ written notice before the rent increase takes effect.
  • Rent Increases Exceeding 10%: If the landlord is increasing the rent by more than 10%, they must provide at least 90 days’ written notice to the tenant. This requirement applies to both month-to-month tenancies and fixed-term leases.

The notice must include the following information:

  • The amount of the rent increase
  • The date the rent increase will take effect
  • The reason for the rent increase
  • A statement of the tenant’s right to object to the rent increase

Tenants have the right to object to a rent increase. To object to a rent increase, the tenant must submit a written objection to the landlord within 15 days of receiving the notice of rent increase. The objection must state the reasons why the tenant believes the rent increase is unfair or unreasonable.

If the tenant objects to the rent increase, the landlord may either withdraw the rent increase or proceed to arbitration. Arbitration is a process in which a neutral third party resolves the dispute between the landlord and the tenant.

Landlords who fail to provide proper notice of a rent increase may be subject to penalties, including fines and damages. Tenants who believe that their landlord has violated the notice requirements should contact their local housing authority or a tenant rights organization.

You may also find the following information helpful:

California Department of Consumer AffairsLandlord’s Handbook
California Tenants UnionTenant Rights Guide
Legal Aid Foundation of Los AngelesRenter’s Rights in California

Tenant Rights in California

Under California law, landlords are prohibited from increasing the security deposit of a current tenant unless:

  • The landlord and tenant agree in writing to the increase.
  • The rent is increased by more than 10%, excluding amounts collected to pay for utility increases.
  • In either case, the landlord must provide the tenant with written notice of the increase.

    Additional Tenant Rights in California

    Right to Rent ControlRent control is in effect in some California cities, limiting the amount that landlords can raise rent.
    Right to a Habitable UnitLandlords must provide tenants with safe and habitable living conditions.
    Right to PrivacyLandlords must give tenants reasonable notice before entering a rental unit.
    Right to RepairsLandlords are responsible for making timely repairs to the rental unit.
    Right to a Clean and Safe EnvironmentLandlords must provide tenants with a clean and safe living environment.

    Thanks for sticking with me to the end! I appreciate you taking the time to learn about the rules and regulations regarding security deposits in California. If you have any more questions, feel free to drop me a line. I’ll be here, ready to help you out with whatever real estate-related questions you may have. In the meantime, keep an eye out for my other articles. I’ll be back soon with more helpful info and insights. Until then, take care and happy renting!