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§2.06 Return of Security Deposit

The landlord may retain security deposit money only to the extent reasonably necessary for the purposes specified in CC §1950.5(b) (see §2.02). [CC §1950.5(e).] It is the landlord’s burden to show the reasonableness of security amounts retained. [CC §1950.5(l).] The landlord is not obligated to pay interest on a tenant’s retained security deposit [Korens v R.W. Zukin Corp. (1989) 212 CA3d 1054, 1058] unless the deposit has been retained in bad faith [see CC §1950.5(l)].

The landlord may not assert a claim against the tenant or the security deposit for ordinary wear and tear or preexisting damages or defective conditions. [CC §1950.5(e); see §2.03.] A tenant who vacates is not obligated to restore the rental premises in a better condition than when the tenancy commenced. [Haupt v La Brea Heating Co. (1955) 133 CA2d Supp 784, 788–789.] If the tenant exercises ordinary care in preserving the premises, the landlord cannot deduct for normal deterioration in the premises caused by use and the passage of time. [See Kanner v Globe Bottling Co. (1969) 273 CA2d 559, 565.]


Watch how a judge admits evidence relating to a landlord's claims against the security deposit and to a tenant's attempted counterclaim.

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Lesson 2:
Tenant Security Deposits
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