A new bill would protect California renters from paying more than a month’s rent for security deposits.

Announced during the first week of California’s new legislative session, Assembly Bill 12 would prohibit the frequent practice of landlords charging two to three times the amount of monthly rent for a security deposit.

If passed, California would be the 12th state in the county to cap security deposits.

The author of the bill, Assemblymember Matt Haney, D-San Francisco, said that in San Francisco, tenants could be subject to paying an additional $15,000 to move into a $5,000-a-month apartment — the average cost of a two-bedroom unit in the city. Those up-front fees are causing renters to take out predatory loans, go into debt or not move at all.

“This bill will remove a huge barrier to housing access and affordability. … We need to make common sense, immediate changes to make things easier for the people of California during this housing crisis.”

Assemblymember Matt Haney

“Landlords lose out on good tenants and tenants stay in apartments that are too crowded or have unsafe living conditions,” Haney said in a news release. “Creating a rental deposit cap is a simple change that will have an enormous impact on housing affordability for families in California.”

San Francisco-based speech therapist Alexis Ewing said it took her a decade to save up enough money to afford the security deposit that would allow her to move from her previous apartment into her new home.

“I’ve been able to afford higher rent for a while now, but saving up the $10,000 in move-in costs took me years,” Ewing said. “That’s a down payment on a house in the rest of the country.”

Often times landlords say these extra fees help them keep up with the increasing costs of repairs for units. Haney said the bill would not prevent landlords from fining tenants who cause damage to apartments that is higher than the amount of the security deposit.

“This bill will remove a huge barrier to housing access and affordability,” said Haney. “Our state can’t just continue to do things like we always have. We need to make common sense, immediate changes to make things easier for the people of California during this housing crisis.”