The Very Specific Rights Renters Have by Law When it Comes to Security Deposits

Renters have very specific rights when it comes to getting a security deposit back.

Susan Blaho wish she knew them long ago, before her experience trying to get her money back. 

Blaho is settling into her new home after moving out of an apartment she'd rented for nine years.

"I'd paid my rent on time for almost nine years. Never had a problem," she said.

Blaho said she left the apartment in good condition — just leaving behind the normal wear and tear -- so naturally, she expected to get back her security deposit of $2,100.

But the weeks went by and she received nothing.

"She kept stringing me along. 'Oh, it's in the mail, it's in the mail,'" Blaho said.

Under California law, renters have clear rights when it comes to security deposits.

A landlord must return a security deposit within 21 days.

The landlord must give the tenant advance notice before taking any deductions from the deposit. And the landlord must provide an itemized list of those deductions.

Blaho's landlord did none of this.

"I felt horrible for days and days and days," she said.


Get Los Angeles's latest local news on crime, entertainment, weather, schools, COVID, cost of living and more. Here's your go-to source for today's LA news.

Disneyland characters choose to unionize in unanimous vote

Walker Buehler shuts out Reds with 6 dominant innings in Dodgers' 4-0 victory

The NBCLA I-Team reached out to her landlord and she sent Blaho a check for $1,900, still $200 short. The landlord said Blaho left behind a lot of trash. Blaho said that's not true. The landlord then quit returning NBCLA's calls.

"I just felt like she was doing me wrong," Blaho said.

She said next time, she'll do things differently.

"Don't trust your instincts that you have a good rapport with someone. Because it has to be treated as a business deal," she said.

Blaho's only option now is to take her landlord to small claims court.

Tips For you

  • Ask your landlord to join you for a walk-through of your rental after you move out. That way you can fix any problems or do more cleaning if it's needed.
  • If you can't do a walk-through, be sure to take pictures and video of the property, so you have proof of the condition when you moved out.
Contact Us