(KRON) – Rent prices in the Bay Area are already overwhelming for many people, and high security depots can make it impossible for someone to move into a new place.
San Francisco Assemblymember Matt Haney introduced a bill into the state assembly this week that would set a maximum for apartment security deposits. The average rent in California has increased substantially over the last year, and in San Francisco specifically, it’s one of the highest in the country. Assemblymember Haney says high price tags translate to security deposits.
“In San Francisco, the median rent is $4,000, and under current law that can mean potential tenants are being asked to pay over $12,000 just to move in,” he said.
That’s because, under the current state law, security deposits can be as much as two or three times the monthly rent of the unit. And with rent being so high, assemblymember Haney says security deposits can often be the biggest barrier when trying to move into a new apartment.
”I met a janitor who lived in a one-bedroom apartment with his wife and three kids, and he was trying to get into a two-bedroom, and he told me the barrier was not being able to pay the monthly rent, it was being able to pay the security deposit,” Haney recalled.
This week, Haney introduced a bill that would cap security deposits to one month’s rent. He is the chair of a new caucus in the assembly to advocate for renters.
Haney says the current security deposits require some people to borrow and go into debt or stay in a housing situation that is insufficient or overcrowded. He hopes the new law would change that, and he says it wouldn’t hurt landlords.
“This doesn’t change at all liability for a tenant,” he said. “So if someone totally destroyed an apartment, they’re still liable for that.“
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Haney says a handful of other states have already taken similar action.
“Over 10 states in the country including New York, Delaware, Alabama even cap their security deposits at no more than one month of rent,” he said.
He says this is the first policy that the group is introducing, and it’s just the start. Haney says tenants make up more than 40 percent of Californians, but only three percent of the legislator. Policy reflects that, but this new group is working to change that.