Statewide Bill Targets Renters Deposits

     

    Members of Tenants Together — a statewide organization involved with renter rights — participated in a “Day of Action” on Tuesday, May 7 in support of a statewide bill to reform tenant security deposit practices.

    As a campus with a large percentage of student commuters and renters, UCSD Campus Services is providing information regarding security deposits and withholdings, warning students of being treated unfairly when managing landlord-mandated security deposits. Student Legal Services released an email last week reminding students who intend to live off campus to inform themselves about security deposits and the possibility of losing thousands of dollars in security deposits to landlords.

    The California Senate Judiciary Committee approved the SB 603 bill at a hearing Tuesday by a vote of 4–1; following approval, the bill will move to the Senate floor, and voting will take place before the end of May.

    Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) authored the bill, introduced in March, in co-sponsorship with Tenants Together, Western Center on Law and Poverty and California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. The bill was created in response to complaints regarding unfair treatment of security deposits. According to a press release from Tenants Together, the bill hopes to stop security deposit thefts by mandating landlords to separate security deposits and personal assets, as well as requiring interest on deposits to tenants.

    According to a survey conducted by Tenants Together, 60 percent of members reported improper withholding of security deposits.

    “One [of the] biggest complaints California’s 15 million renters voice when a lease ends is that they have little recourse in dealing with a landlord who refuses to return their deposits,” Leno said in a press release on the Tenants Together website. “SB 603 protects tenants in this situation by encouraging landlords to return security deposits in a timely manner, as required by law.”

    Victims of security deposit theft participated in the Tenants Together “Day of Action,” including San Diego resident Sebrina Daniels.

    “My deposit was partially withheld for cleaning and unnamed ‘damages,’” Daniels wrote in a Tenants Together press release. “I left the place cleaner than it was when I moved in. As for damages, I have no idea what the landlord was talking about, and they never explained or documented any repair expenses.”

    At the hearing, committee chair Noreen Evans revealed herself as a victim of security deposit threat, urging passage of the bill. 

    With a vote at the end of May, Tenants Together is currently lobbying through online action, urging supporters to donate and inform themselves.

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