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Security Deposits and Other Fees

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The amount of the security deposit collected is set by California State Law. In most instances the security deposit cannot exceed two months rent for an unfurnished unit or three months rent for a furnished unit. This deposit can be collected in addition to the first month's rent.

The security deposit is any money that is being held until the tenant moves out. This includes, but is not limited to security, last month's rent, cleaning fee, pet deposit, garage opener deposit, key deposit, etc. The total of all fees may not exceed the maximum for security set by the State. All monies held are refundable at the end of the tenancy if the landlord did not have any costs related to their specific purpose in accordance with state law.

Under the City's Rent Stabilization Ordinance, a landlord may not increase the amount of the security deposit being held during a tenancy.

The exception is a tenant with a pet or pets previously not permitted by the lease. This tenant may agree in writing to add a pet deposit in exchange for the landlord's permission to keep the pet(s):

  • Generally, the pet deposit may not exceed one-month's rent;
  • Seniors and persons living with disabilities or HIV/AIDS may not be charged more than 25% of the security deposit already held by the landlord. More information about requirements.
  • In either case, after adding the pet deposit, the total deposit held until move-out may not exceed the limits on security deposits' size set under California State Law for the unit.

A deposit already being held for a tenant who has permitted pets may not be increased.

Interest on Security Deposits

The City of West Hollywood's Rent Stabilization Ordinance requires that tenants be paid interest on their security deposits by January 31 of each year in an amount determined by the City based on prevailing interest rates. For this year's rate see the homepage.

Tenants who have not received interest on their security deposit from the landlord, may deduct the amount owed from their rent as of February 1 of each year. Tenants may deduct for past years when the interest went unpaid but they may do so only for the last 3 years of interest still owed. Tenants should contact an Information Coordinator in the Rent Stabilization & Housing Division to inquire about deducting the interest from rent by calling (323) 848-6450.

Other Fees Permitted by the Ordinance

Besides the security deposits and the monthly pass-through of the registration fee, a landlord may also charge the following fees for rent-stabilized units:

  • A fee for late payment of rent after the 5th day following the due date, not to exceed 1 percent of the monthly rent. A late fee must be established as a condition of tenancy.
  • A fee for a "bounced" check, not to exceed the actual amount charged by the bank for returning the check. The right to charge for bounced checks must be in the lease or rental agreement.
  • A fee for replacing a key or a security card, not to exceed the actual cost of replacement if fees for such items are established in the lease or rental agreement.
  • A credit-check fee for prospective tenants' applications as set forth in California Civil Code Section 1950.6. This fee must be returned if the services which the Code allows for the fee, were not used.

Tenants in rent-stabilized units cannot waive these limits on fees under the Ordinance.

Landlords of units that are exempt from the Maximum Allowable Rent are not limited to these fees and should consult California State law regarding the rules for charging fees to tenants.

For questions about whether fees being charged tenants are permitted under the Ordinance, contact the Rent Stabilization & Housing Division at (323) 848-6450.

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