San Francisco Security Deposit Law

Author: Kasee Godwin
Date: 11.02.2023

San Francisco Security Deposit Law: A Guide for Landlords and Tenants

Navigating the rental scene in San Francisco requires understanding California state laws and San Francisco’s specific regulations concerning security deposits. Let’s break down the unique aspects of SF’s security deposit regulations:

Interest on Security Deposits

San Francisco Security Deposit Law mandates landlords pay interest annually on security deposits held for at least one year. The interest isn’t random; it’s based on average rates paid on 6-month deposit certificates by city banks. The San Francisco Rent Board decides this.

 Separate Banking Requirement

If you’re a landlord, don’t mingle security deposits with your funds. San Francisco requires security deposits to be held in a separate, interest-bearing account in a financial institution located within California.

Return of Security Deposit

California says: “Return the deposit within 21 days post move-out.” San Francisco adds: “Fail to provide an itemized statement and the remaining deposit within this time? You forfeit the right to any of it.” 


Unpaid rent, cleaning costs, and damage repair are standard deductions across California. But in SF, landlords can also deduct any unpaid increase in property taxes attributable to the rental unit under the Rent Board’s guidelines.

Pet Deposits

In San Francisco, pet deposits are folded into the total security deposit. It must not cause the full deposit to exceed the legal limit, twice the monthly rent for unfurnished units, and thrice for furnished ones.

Penalty for Wrongful Withholding

Wrongfully withhold a security deposit, and a landlord could be liable for the withheld amount, interest, penalties, and possibly even attorney fees.

In Conclusion

San Francisco’s regulations add layers of specificity atop California’s foundational laws. Both landlords and tenants must be informed. This city’s real estate market is bustling, and understanding the nuances of regulations can prevent misunderstandings and disputes.

Considering the dynamic nature of laws, always consult with local experts or legal professionals when in doubt. Landlords and tenants have rights, and the best relationships are built on mutual respect and understanding.

Disclaimer & Sources:

Qira aims to keep this information as up-to-date as possible. The content provided here is informational and should be different from legal counsel. Please refer to the relevant government sources to check for any changes or updates to the law.

San Francisco Administrative Code Chapter 49


Kasee Godwin

Position: Director of Marketing
Social Networks

Kasee is the Director of Marketing for Qira. She has nearly 15 years of experience in the real estate marketing industry, including 10 years on the client side. In her spare time, she enjoys reading science fiction, exploring new wineries, and fostering Golden Retrievers.

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