Tenant’s Options if Excess Security Deposit Collected in California on a Residential Lease


In an earlier post, I discussed security deposits for residential rental agreements in California. This post will outline what a tenant may do if the landlord demands a security deposit that exceeds legal limits.

If a landlord demands a security deposit that exceeds legal limits, the tenant can:

  • Pay and Sue
    • File a case in small claims court
    • If the tenant has suffered injury in fact AND lost money or property, the tenant may bring a claim under Business and Professions Code 17200 as an unfair business act or practice for restitution of the unlawfully-collected amounts and/or injunctive relief
  • Pay and Deduct
    • If the landlord refuses to return the excess security deposit after the tenants’ request, the tenant may deduct the unlawful portion from a subsequent  month’s rent. This option could be risky because if the tenant does not pay the amount of rent due, the landlord may decide to file an unlawful detainer for non-payment of rent

If the property is in a rent-controlled area, additional restrictive laws may apply to residential security deposits.

The Law Office of David Piotrowski represents landlords throughout southern California and can assist with a tenant eviction.

Read Attorney Piotrowski’s “Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview” book.

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