Security Deposit Maximums for California Residential Landlords

Jamie Sternberg, Esq.

Updated December, 2019


California Civil Code §1950.5 establishes a maximum security deposit that can be charged to California residential tenants:

  • 2 months’ rent for an unfurnished unit
  • 3 months’ rent for a furnished unit

SB 644 amended Civil Code 1950.5, reducing the amount that a landlord can charge service members for a security deposit on residential rental housing. Effective January 1, 2020, landlords may not request a security deposit of more than one month’s rent for an unfurnished unit, and two month’s rent for a furnished unit, if the unit is rented to a service member.  Additionally, a landlord may not refuse to rent to a service member due to the reduced security deposit.  This law does not apply in a roommate situation, where property is rented to a group of individuals, and at least one of the group is not the service member’s spouse, parent, domestic partner or dependent. It also does not apply if the tenant has a history of poor credit or of causing damage to rental property or its furnishings. “Service member” is defined in Military and Veterans Code §400, and is limited to active duty service members.

The maximum may be increased by an additional ½ month’s rent if the unit has a waterbed.  

California residential landlords may accept advance payment of rent for 6 months or more (but not less). 

Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP is a full service real estate law firm representing residential and commercial property owners and managers. This article is for general information purposes only. While KTS provides clients with information on legislative changes, our courtesy notifications are not meant to be exhaustive and do not take the place of legislative services or membership in trade associations. Our legal alerts are provided on selected topics and should not be relied upon as a complete report of all new changes of local, state, and federal laws affecting property owners and managers. Laws may have changed since this article was published.  Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. For contact information, please visit our website:  For past Legal Alerts, Questions & Answers and Legal Articles, please consult the resource section of our website.

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