Download our FREE Guide to Renter's Rights
Security Deposits
5 Things to Know about Security Deposits in San Francisco

5 Things to Know about Security Deposits in San Francisco

5 Things to Know about Security Deposits in San Francisco


5 Things to Know about Security Deposits in San Francisco

Whenever you sign a lease to rent an apartment, chances are that the landlord will require you to put down a security deposit. This is a sum of money (it may be called something else, such as last month's rent or a damage deposit) that has the purpose of lessening the financial hit to a landlord if the tenant breaks the lease or damages the premises beyond reasonable wear and tear. Although security deposits are most significant at the beginning of your lease term and at the end, there are always certain things to keep in mind. Read on for 5 things to know about security deposits in San Francisco.

  1. Non-refundable deposits are illegal: Even if it's referred to as a key deposit, last month's rent, or a pet deposit, any money that you pay above your first month's rent is refundable. Your landlord must return a deposit (less any reductions) to you when your lease has concluded.
  2. There are limits to what a landlord can charge for a security deposit: Excessive security deposits aren't allowed under California's landlord and tenant laws; the law caps them. If the rental is unfurnished, then the landlord can charge a maximum of two-month's rent. If the rental is furnished, then the maximum is three-month's rent. However, the law is different for people that are active military duty. If that applies to you, you only need to pay a security deposit equal to one-month's rent for an unfurnished apartment; if it's for a furnished apartment, it can be no more than two-months.
  3. San Francisco landlords must pay yearly interest on security deposits: They are required to pay interest on all funds (regardless of what the deposit is called) that are held over a year. The interest payments apply to all of the residential units in San Francisco, even those that are exempt from the Rent Ordinance, but for one exception: if the rent for the apartment is subsidized (or assisted) by a government agency, the landlord doesn't have to make the interest payment.
  4. When you move out, there is a 21-day deadline for your deposit return: Under state law, landlords have 21 days to return the security deposit after the tenant has moved out and returned the keys, unless a repair can't be completed within that time. With this, the landlord must also include an itemized statement of any deductions and the specific amount of the deposit returned.
  5. Landlords must follow specific laws when there is a change in the property's ownership: If the landlord sells the property before your lease is up, they can deal with the security deposit in one of two ways. Either, they can transfer the security deposit to the owner, or they can return the deposit directly back to you.

Get Help from a Tenants' Rights Lawyer

Knowing about your rights can help you avoid security deposit disputes with your landlord. However, there are times when it can be more complex, such as roommate situations, or where your landlord is keeping your deposit in bad faith, when it helps to get a tenants' rights lawyer involved.

Related Posts You Also May Like

Get Started

For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.