Recovered on behalf of a group of 30 tenants living in an SRO in San Francisco who were living with horrendous conditions in their rent controlled apartments, including rodents, bedbugs, mold, water leaks and harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three families living in a building in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood who were forced to live with substandard conditions for years as a result of their landlord’s negligence, including issues with lack of heat, lack of hot water and cockroach/rat infestations.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a couple living in a rent-controlled home in the outer Sunset neighborhood. Our clients were forced to vacate after the landlord served them with an Owner Move-In Eviction Notice. After the landlords failed to move into the property, our clients filed suit for wrongful eviction.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant in Russian Hill. Tenant was forced to vacate her illegal apartment in retaliation for reporting unlawful rent increases to the San Francisco Rent Board.Read More
Recovered for a single long-term tenant in San Francisco. Our client was forced to move out of his apartment as a result of extreme landlord harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three long-term tenants in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood who were constructively evicted due to noise and nuisance conditions created by their downstairs neighbors, which the owner refused to address.Read More
Recovered on behalf of elderly, disabled tenant who was forced to move out of her rent-controlled San Francisco apartment of 50 years after landlord/owner failed to resolve numerous building code violations that remained outstanding for over a decade.Read More
Recovered on behalf of seven tenants living in a makeshift boarding house in East Palo Alto.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two former San Francisco tenants who were evicted via an Owner Move-In Eviction and owner failed to occupy the unit as her primary place of residence.Read More
Recovered on behalf of an elderly long-term tenant who was forced to vacate her long San Francisco apartment as a result of her landlord’s refusal to address longstanding defective conditions, including lack of heat, mold, rodent infestations, and defective plumbing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant who was forced to vacate his home as a result of ongoing, disruptive construction and the owners’ refusal to provide him with alternative housing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco family that was constructively evicted from their home in the Richmond District as a result of unlawful rent increases, defective conditions and tenant harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a tenant living in an illegal “in-law” unit. In this case, a new owner purchased the building and then demolished our client’s unit without permits while she was displaced for seismic retrofitting.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two long term San Francisco tenants who were fraudulently evicted from their home of over twenty years under the pretext of an owner move-in eviction.Read More
Recovered for tenant who was injured when their stairway railing collapsed at the tenant’s Mission District apartment building.Read More
Recovered in action for a group of tenants forced to vacate their San Francisco apartment house due to severe habitability defects including mold and water leaks.Read More
When you move into a new unit you are typically required to pay a security deposit. One of the most common disputes tenants encounter involves the return of security deposits.
The return of security deposits is governed by state law – California Civil Code Section 1950.5. California state law limits the amount a landlord can charge for security deposits.
years of experience in representing tenants.
In California, a landlord is only able to demand a security deposit of up to two months’ rent for an unfurnished apartment or three months’ rent for a furnished unit in addition to the first month’s rent. Landlords cannot require a non-refundable deposit, and your landlord is required to return your deposit or otherwise account for how it was spent within 21 days of vacating the unit.
Your landlord can only charge you for damage to your unit beyond ordinary wear and tear. What is ordinary wear and tear? I’ll put it this way – if you caused the damage with a bat, a ball, or a golf club, it’s probably a safe bet that it’s not “ordinary.” Put another way, it boils down to those things that are inevitable – paint won’t stay fresh forever, carpets wear out, etc. Sometimes landlords can be sneaky about this and try to charge you for a new carpet or to replace old appliances but as a general rule, this is not something you are responsible for unless you caused the damage yourself by some means other than regular use.
In addition to the requirement that your landlord return your deposit within 21 days, they have to provide you with a full accounting if they withhold the return of any portion of it. That means they are required to send you receipts for replacement items they had to purchase, invoices for services they had to pay for, etc. If your landlord does not provide you with documentation, call them out by writing them an email or letter (remember, always keep copies) demanding to see the proof. If they refuse, or ignore you, you can use this as proof of bad intent later on (see below for details on what happens if they don’t give you the deposit back). Likewise, if your landlord submits a receipt/invoice that looks outrageous – $500 for a new towel rack? You should consider asking for an explanation in writing.
If your landlord fails or refuses to return all or part of your deposit, and/or to provide an itemized statement and proofs for any deductions, We suggest writing your landlord a letter requesting an explanation and reminding them of their duties before escalating the situation on the off chance they forgot or sent it somewhere else. If you still don’t get it back, or if you disagree with the accounting, your best option is generally to file an action in Small Claims Court. In addition to the disputed money, your landlord may be liable for penalties for improperly withholding your funds. Because most deposits are less than $10,000 Small Claims court is your ticket.
We do not assist tenants in security deposit disputes. As a small firm we are limited in the number of new cases we can take on at a given time. Maintaining a high quality of service to our clients is our biggest priority. It is also important that we only represent tenants in matters where we believe we can create value. As such, we have to be mindful of how many, and what kinds of matters we take on. With the amount of the average security deposit amounting to less than $10,000, most deposit disputes are best handled in Small Claims Court, where no lawyers are needed. Therefore, we are not taking on security deposit issues at this time.
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.