California Rental Desposit for Utilities

5 Replies

Since utility bills come out the month after the tenant uses the service, I get utility bills for a tenant after they've already left. I normally end up telling the tenant before they leave that I'll hold the deposit until the bills settle out, deduct those, and send them the rest assuming there are no damages (unless for some reason they'd prefer to keep them separate). But looking over a couple legal websites about CA deposits, they don't seem to specify that this is an allowed deduction, though I found a website on tenant laws overall that it's allowed in most states. I don't think it's a big issue either way, but I'd rather do things as legally correct as possible! Is anyone familiar with this aspect of the deposit rules? How do you normally handle this?

Thank you in advance!

Good Morning Kendra, 

To my knowledge it is not allowed in CA, the deposit is only to be used for owed rents and damages beyond normal where and tear. 

Best Regards,

Stephen

@Stephen Haynes Thanks for the info! But then what recompense do I have if a tenant leaves without paying for utilities owed?

@Kendra Mattson   It is all the wording of the lease. My lease states that all property bills will be paid from incoming payments before the rent so if they short the rent by the utilities really they shorted the rent by that amount. So if they leave owing utilities really it is rent they owe because they shorted the rent by that amount. 

Originally posted by @Stephen Haynes :

@Kendra Mattson  It is all the wording of the lease. My lease states that all property bills will be paid from incoming payments before the rent so if they short the rent by the utilities really they shorted the rent by that amount. So if they leave owing utilities really it is rent they owe because they shorted the rent by that amount. 

 Oh wow, that's really smart! Unfortunately I do not have that in my lease, and I believe the tenant that just moved out will be uncooperative with paying back what will come to 2 mos of utilities (last month and the ones that settle out this month). I'd ballpark the total owed will be about $80. If I ask again and he still doesn't pay before I have to return the deposit, am I SOL?

I would say yes SOL. Security deposits in this state are pretty specific on what can be charged. 

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