Are There Penalties For A Late Security Deposit Interest Payment?

Dave’s at SF Appeal to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com, here’s what to make sure to include in your letter.

I have lived in a 4-unit building in San Francisco since 1990 that was built in the 1920’s.   My building has been sold and the new landlords are doing an OMI eviction in my unit (longest term tenant, lowest rent, other vacant but different units in the building).   I paid a $950 deposit in 1990, but have never received any interest.  

My question is this:  since I have never received interest and the landlord had my money all of these years, making interest, is there some provision for receiving for getting a higher payment because they kept my interest payment?

There is no penalty for late payment in San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 49 which governs security deposit interest in San Francisco. In fact, Administrative Code § 49.3 only provides:

The rights, obligations and remedies of tenants and landlords under this Chapter shall be as provided in Subsections (f), (g), (h) and (j) of Section 1950.5 of the California Civil Code.

It is important to understand that the new landlords will be obligated to refund your security deposit and interest if you vacate and deliver the premises in good condition absent ordinary wear and tear. California Civil Code § 1950.5(h) provides that method by which a security deposit (plus interest in San Francisco) must be transferred from a former owner to the new owner. If the transfer is done correctly the new owner steps into the old owner’s shoes. (California Civil Code § 1950.5(k).)

If the security deposit is not transferred from the old owner to the new, the new owner will still be “jointly and severally liable with the landlord for repayment of the security deposit.” (California Civil Code § 1950.5(j).) In case the new owners do not return your security deposit, this section means that you should sue both the old owner and the new one.

To figure the interest on deposits, I have been using the “SF Security Deposit Interest and Rent Board Fee Calculator” from ReLISTO.com. You can find it and many other useful listings for tenants on the Crow & Rose Tenant Resources page.

Using a hypothetical January 1, 1990 date for the inception of your tenancy., the interest owed on your deposit would be $637.11. That includes a deduction for payment of half of the Rent Board fees since 1999, a deduction landlords are allowed to bank and deduct from your deposit (that is, if the fees were paid.)

Should the Board of Supervisors enact a penalty for that late payment of security deposit interest in San Francisco? Perhaps.

But if you’re pissed off about that, then you should take a look at the list of security deposit law reforms for California that  I suggested back in 2009, only one of which has been passed–raising the small claims court jurisdictional limit to $10,000.00.

Crow & Rose's legal practice emphasizes eviction defense, wrongful eviction and other landlord tenant and real property matters.

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