CA law $126 limit (no receipts) for return deposit - help

9 Replies

I am new to renting in CA and my tenant is about to leave. I just wondered if anyone knows if the $126 limit for returning a deposit without receipts is per deducted item or in total.  If needed, I will do the work myself but cleaning, plus any repairs, plus washing carpets, plus trash removal (obviously only if any of this is needed) etc, can def work out around $100 per instance.

One other question is I didn't do an inspection all year but read I can't do one now until they leaves, (unless they request this) and I can't find anything about being allowed access to show the unit to new tenants, guess I have to wait until they are out.

*this is not legal advice. Always seek professional legal help*

Hey @Chris Newton , to my knowledge it's $126 total. However, it's always a good idea to send an itemized receipt regardless. 

You're correct. You're not entitled to an inspection in California, as a landlord. However, you could ask the tenant if it would be ok for you to check the unit out, so that you'll know what you'll have to do after they move out. Let the tenants know that they are not obligated to let you in, but that you would appreciate it. 

Unless otherwise stated in the lease, you are allowed to show the unit to potential renters/purchasers. You have to give the tenant at least 24 hours notice, and the tenant also has to agree to the time. You can't just give 24 hour notice and then barge into the house, if the requested time does not work for the tenant. 

Hope that helps

Civil Code Section 1950.5(b) specifies what can be deducted.

If the tenant waives the right to documentation receipts are not required.

No later than 21 days after regaining possession, the appropriate security deposit amount should be returned.

I give the tenants an option to do a pre-inspection about 10 days before move out.  This gives them a chance to fix any issues I point out (getting back more of their security deposit) and me a chance to estimate repairs.


I often return the full security deposit because the unit/home is returned in perfect condition. (Minus normal wear and tear)

@Chris Newton   It's total.  The applicable law is actually Civil Code Section 1950.5(g)(4) if you want to look it up, but here's what it essentially says relevant to your question:

- The landlord need not send the receipts if "deductions for repairs and cleaning together do not exceed one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125)"  (notice the word "together")

OR

- The tenant has waived their right to receive them.

Here's some more information on Security Deposits from the California Department of Consumer Affairs that might be helpful: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/sec-deposit.shtml.

So glad I rent in Texas and can inspect whenever I want and tenant has no right to refuse.

Thanks guys, like I mentioned she might actually clean herself but considering her dog and cats poo all over the garage floor and she is very quick to leave items about the front lawn for months I am a little worried about inside.

If I do it all myself, (carpets/cleaning if more than wear and tear) and takes a long time, would a hand written receipt that I sign be enough, do you think?  or does it have to be a registered company?  I know for a fact her handyman also cut 2 fist size holes out of the walls, somewhere inside, as I found them in the trash and know we will also have to lift the fridge back in etc

Billing for your own time can get tricky especially when taking it out of a security deposit, you are better off paying an outside company.  Think of it this way; if the tenant is paying for it why would you work to save them money, it does nothing for you, now if you are responsible for repair/ cleaning that is a different story.

The tenant has no right to refuse an inspection as long as you serve proper legal notice to enter. Unless your lease specifies otherwise. 

Originally posted by @Samuel Pawlitzki :

*this is not legal advice. Always seek professional legal help*

Hey @Chris Newton , to my knowledge it's $126 total. However, it's always a good idea to send an itemized receipt regardless. 

You're correct. You're not entitled to an inspection in California, as a landlord. However, you could ask the tenant if it would be ok for you to check the unit out, so that you'll know what you'll have to do after they move out. Let the tenants know that they are not obligated to let you in, but that you would appreciate it. 

Unless otherwise stated in the lease, you are allowed to show the unit to potential renters/purchasers. You have to give the tenant at least 24 hours notice, and the tenant also has to agree to the time. You can't just give 24 hour notice and then barge into the house, if the requested time does not work for the tenant. 

Hope that helps

Sorry but you are not required to work around anyone’s schedule. A lease usually includes a clause about showings and availability. .  

You need to let them know that they have the right to a pre walk through inspection usually  two weeks before the last day. This will give them time to fix whatever you find as damage to get their deposit back. They are not required to take the offer. You still want to do your final walk after everything is removed because that’s when you find that hidden stain under the couch or damage from movers  or where Fido or Missy left a tear in the carpet or poopie stains. 

All you are required to do is give 24 hr notice to enter/show the property. Your lease should have clauses as far as showing while occupied. Usually states the LL can show property and the tenant cannot block entry. As long as you give 24 hour notice you can enter. The tenant is supposed to keep the property clean. I usually show a property after a tenant moved out. Not because I don’t want to bother my tenants but because it’s easier.

Originally posted by @Chris Newton :

Thanks guys, like I mentioned she might actually clean herself but considering her dog and cats poo all over the garage floor and she is very quick to leave items about the front lawn for months I am a little worried about inside.

If I do it all myself, (carpets/cleaning if more than wear and tear) and takes a long time, would a hand written receipt that I sign be enough, do you think?  or does it have to be a registered company?  I know for a fact her handyman also cut 2 fist size holes out of the walls, somewhere inside, as I found them in the trash and know we will also have to lift the fridge back in etc

 I would hire a company or whatever companies it takes to bring the property back to original condition. I would charge any damage other than wear and tear against her deposit. The holes in drywall and other repairs like the feeces are chargeable as damage if they made damage. So is the dirty carpet. I hire out because I don’t have the time or care to do all the work. And this way there is absolutely no question as to the work was done by others. I simply wouldn’t waste my time doing the clean and repair. They messed it up they can pay for it. That’s why I take a deposit. 

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