Assembly Bill (AB) 12 would create a one month’s rent cap on security deposits for all tenants.
On January 20, 2023, Chair Leah Simon-Weisberg wrote to California State Assemblymember Matt Haney to express support of AB 12 on behalf of the Berkeley Rent Board. The bill, introduced by Haney, would limit security deposits throughout the state of California to one month’s rent, and is meant to address the practice of landlords setting security deposits for residential rental units at two and sometimes three times the monthly rent–an amount that blocks housing access for many tenants. The letter shares Rent Board data that indicates the average initial rent for a two-bedroom unit in Berkeley has reached $2995, meaning that to afford the first month’s rent and a security deposit of two times the rent, a tenant would need almost $9000 just to move in. The letter acknowledges how these ultra-high deposits can force tenants to turn to high-cost, predatory lenders, which further perpetuates financial and housing insecurity, and praises AB 12 as a way to “provide relief to these families, lowering one barrier to entry for new tenants.”