Our topic today is the required timeframe to return a security deposit to a tenant. According to California law, the tenant has the right to an initial walk through during the last two weeks of a 30-day notice period. The tenant can do this walk through with the property manager or the property owner, but does not need to be present. Some tenants will also waive this inspection altogether.

Once the tenant turns in the keys to the property, possession is officially turned over to the owner. The owner can then go into the property and do a final accounting of any damage or repair work that needs to be done before the security deposit goes back. Work will need to get started right away. Whether you need to do a general cleaning or you need to install new flooring or re-paint the unit, it’s important to begin immediately. If the work will not be completed within 21 days of the tenant’s last day in the property, which is when the security deposit needs to be returned, the owner must send a pending notice letting the tenant know the work is taking extra time. You have to send that notice with an estimated cost of repairs.

As soon as the work is completed, the owner has 14 days from the time the final invoice arrives to send out the final disposition of the tenant’s security deposit. Hopefully this clarifies some of the questions surrounding security deposits and what the law requires in California.

If you have any questions or you’d like more information on how to return a security deposit, please visit our Property Management Systems website, and we’d be happy to tell you more.