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    Refund of Security Deposits

    The best protection to insure that you will get your security deposit back is to take precautions before you take possession of a unit. By taking steps now you will avoid the unwanted headache of small claims court later.
    • • Get an itemized receipt for your deposit. Note: there is no such thing as a "non-refundable" security deposit (i.e key deposit, cleaning fee)
    • • Thoroughly inspect your unit before you move in; use our renters checklist/inspection guide. Take pictures or videotape before you move in to your new unit and ask the landlord to sign a statement of pre-existing damage.
    • • On the day you move out get the landlord or manager to do a walk through with you. If the unit meets their standard of "reasonable cleanliness" and there is no damage ask for your deposit when you return your keys.

    California law specifies procedures that a landlord must use if he or she wants to keep all or any part of a security deposit. Security Deposits may only be used for the following purposes:

    • • To clean the rental unit after the tenant moves out, if the unit was not as clean as when the tenant rented it.
    • • To repair damages caused by the tenant or the tenant's guest - outside of normal wear and tear.
    • • To replace or restore furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property, exclusive of normal wear and tear (including keys), if the rental agreement allows it.
    • • For unpaid rent. (Therefore be sure to give 30 days written notice before you move.)

    Landlords may only withhold from the security deposit amounts that are considered reasonable to cover costs for these purposes. The security deposit may not be used for cleaning or repairing items that are damaged by normal wear and tear, for repairing defects that existed prior to occupancy by the tenant who's deposit is in question, or for cleaning a rental unit that is as clean as it was when the tenant moved in.

    Within 3 weeks (21 days) after a tenant moves out, the landlord must send a tenant a full refund of the security deposit or an itemized written statement that lists reasons for and amounts of any deductions from the deposit, with a refund of any amounts not deducted. If the tenant feels the landlord has withheld an unfair portion of the security deposit, the tenant should immediately contact the landlord in writing to request the refund due. This request should be sent be certified mail to prove that the landlord has received the letter. The tenant must keep copy of all correspondence to the landlord and the receipt for certified mailings for personal records.

    For more information on getting your security deposit back visit

    Interest on security deposits:
    If you are a tenant in San Francisco your landlord must pay you 5.2% interest per year on your deposit.

    San Francisco Rent Board

    San Francisco Rent Board
    25 Van Ness Ave. (At Market St.)
    Suite 320
    San Francisco, CA 94102-6033

    24-Hour Information Line (415) 252-4600
    Phone Counseling Number (415) 252-4600

    New Interest Rate for Deposits

    If you are a tenant in San Francisco, the landlord must pay you interest per year on your deposit after September 1, 1983. The interest amount was initially a flat rate and has since been indexed.This rate is published annually by the Rent Board. The landlord must pay this at least once a year and may deduct a $21.50 "Rent Board Fee" from it (Chapter 49 of the SF Administrative Code). The Interest Rate On Security Deposits for 3/1/09-2/28/10 is 3.1%