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New Law Aids Deposit Returns

October 06, 2002|Diane Wedner

After intensive lobbying by renters' advocates, Gov. Gray Davis last week signed into law a bill that helps ensure that tenants receive a fair share of their security deposits when they vacate an apartment.

The law gives tenants the right to a landlord inspection two weeks before moving out, allowing them to make minor repairs as specified in the rental agreement, and to clarify the extent of cleaning necessary to receive back as much of the security deposit as possible, said Peter Kuhns, a spokesman for the Assn. of Community Organizations for Reform Now, a leading supporter of the bill, which was AB 2330.

Under the terms of the law, which had been sponsored by Assemblywoman Carol Migden (D-San Francisco), landlords are prohibited from charging expensive "tenant initiation fees," padded costs sometimes imposed on tenants seeking rentals in low-vacancy cities such as San Francisco.

Additionally, it increases the maximum damages that tenants can collect from landlords who, in bad faith, fail to return security deposits. The ceiling had been $600. Under the law, which takes effect Jan. 1, a tenant may collect up to twice the amount of the security deposit.

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