California Landlord-Tenant Laws

Tenant Screening California

If you’re looking for more information specific to tenant screening in California be sure to check out our page filled with free resources for California.

Regarding Security Deposit

California state law allows landlords to charge a security deposit equal to 2 months’ rent for an unfurnished unit. A furnished unit allows the landlord to charge up to 3 months’ rent for a security deposit. These amounts must include pet deposits or any additional deposit the landlord requires. Total security deposits cannot exceed these amounts.

California law doesn’t require landlords to put a tenant’s security deposit in a trust account, nor pay interest on that deposit.

Tenant security deposits must be returned within 21 days after a tenant moves out. Landlords must provide an itemized list of any deductions that includes proof of damage, receipts and even photos to document each deduction.

California laws concerning security deposits can be found in California Civil Code Section 1950.5.

Regarding Application Fees

California law limits the application fee to no more than $49.50 per applicant. The landlord can only charge an application fee that equals the actual expense for screening and not more.

Regarding Tenant Bad Checks

Civil Penalties: Triple the amount owing, no more than $1500 and no less than $100

Criminal Penalties: If the amount of the check is under $200, and it is the tenant’s first offense, then they could get up to one year in county jail.

Allowable Fees: $25

Regarding Notice of Termination for Nonpayment

A tenant will receive a 3-day notice to pay or quit, after which the landlord can begin eviction proceedings through the district or county court, according to Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 1161(2).