Both landlords and tenants obtain certain rights and responsibilities when a tenancy is established. In California, a lease agreement can either be made orally or through a written document. 

To be a successful California landlord, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with the statewide landlord-tenant laws (CA Civil Code 1940-1954.05). The following is a basic overview of landlord-tenant laws in California. 

Required Landlord Disclosures in California 

As a landlord in California, you must provide your tenants with certain disclosures before they can move into your property. The following are some of them. 

  • Disclosure about lead-based paint concentrations. This is mandatory for landlords renting out units built prior to 1978. 
  • Disclosure of any known mold. 
  • Disclosure in the rental agreement of how utility fees are applied and how they are going to be shared among tenants in a multi-family unit. 
  • Disclosure of asbestos. This is only mandatory for landlords with buildings built before 1979. 
  • Disclosure of possible drug contamination where remediation is yet to be completed. 
  • Disclosure of your tenant’s right to access the sex offender registry. 
  • Disclosure of any planned future demolition that will have an impact on a tenancy. 
  • Disclosure about bed bug infestation. In doing so, you must use a specific language as outlined under California law (Civ. Code §§ 1954.603). 

California Tenant Rights & Responsibilities 

According to landlord tenant laws, tenants in California have the following rights and responsibilities. The right to:

  • Live in a habitable dwelling. 
  • Enjoy the home in peace and quiet. 
  • Exercise their housing rights, such as filing a health or safety report. 
  • A fair tenant screening exercise. 
  • A fair and judicial eviction process
  • Be provided with certain disclosures. 

Smiling property manager in a pink suit speaking with two prospective tenants

Tenants in California have the following responsibilities. 

  • Keep the unit clean and in a habitable condition. 
  • Keep the provided fixtures clean and sanitary. 
  • Use the premises and provided amenities only for their intended purposes. 
  • Not to cause disturbance to other tenants or neighbors. 
  • Do small repairs and maintenance. 
  • Notify the landlord before vacating the unit or terminating the rental agreement. 
  • Allow the landlord to enter to perform crucial responsibilities. 
  • Pay rent on time and abide by all other obligations stated in the lease agreement. 

California Landlord Rights & Responsibilities 

According to landlord tenant laws, landlords in California have the following rights. A right to:

  • Enter rented the rental unit to perform needed or requested responsibilities. 
  • Evict a tenant for failing to observe the terms of the lease agreement. 
  • Ask a tenant to pay a security deposit prior to moving into the rental unit. 
  • Penalize a tenant for breaking their lease agreement early, especially if the reason for doing so is not legally justified. 
  • Charge reasonable late fees as long as they are outlined in the lease or rental agreement. 

The following are some of the responsibilities you have as a California landlord. 

  • Give at least 24 hours advance notice prior to entering an occupied rental unit. 
  • Provide your tenant with certain mandatory disclosures. 
  • Not to discriminate against your tenant based on race, color, religion, sex, nationality, ancestry, marital status, or any other protected class. 
  • Raise rent in accordance with AB 1483 of the Tenant Protection Act. 
  • Abide by California security deposit law
  • Follow the proper eviction process when evicting a tenant from their rental unit. 
  • Respond to repair requests in a “reasonable” amount of time. This time is normally interpreted as 30 days (or sooner for emergency situations). 

One person reaching across a desk to hand a pen to another person

California Landlord-Tenant Law: Overview

Tenant Privacy 

As a landlord, you have a responsibility to notify your tenant prior to entering their rental unit. According to California landlord tenant laws, you must provide tenants with a notice of at least 24 hours before you can access the property. The only exception is for emergencies that threaten the tenant’s health and safety. 

Rent Increase

As a landlord, you must abide by AB 1483 – the Tenant Protection Act. The act limits the increase of rental rates based on inflation. It also establishes jurisdictions for local rent control. 

According to the act, you must give your tenant proper written notice prior when raising the rent. If the raise is less than 10% of one month’s rent, you must give the tenant a 30 days notice.

If it is greater than 10% of one months rent, you must serve them a 60 days advance written notice. 

Lease Termination

In a fixed-term lease, a California tenant may be able to break their lease early for the following reasons. 

  • Active military duty.
  • Uninhabitable unit.
  • Landlord harassment.
  • Early lease termination clause.

You must make reasonable steps to re-rent the unit after the tenant has left, even if they broke their lease early. 

Security Deposit 

The state of California has rules regarding security deposits that are designed to protect both the landlord and the tenant.

Security Deposit document stamped with a red approved

It specifies things like:

  • How much a landlord can charge for a security deposit. 
  • The legal reasons a landlord can use to make deductions on the tenant’s security deposit. 
  • A tenant’s right to a walk-through inspection. 
  • When the landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant.

Housing Discrimination

You have an obligation to treat your tenants equally and fairly. The Fair Housing Act prohibits any form of discrimination on the basis of a tenant’s race, color, religion, sex, familial status, nationality, and disability. 

The state of California fair housing law also extends additional protection to tenants based on sexual orientation, primary language, marital status, immigration status, gender identity, mental disability, citizenship status, and income source. 

Evictions in California 

You can evict a tenant in California from their rental unit for the following reasons. 

  • Unpaid of rent. 
  • Violation of the lease or rental agreement. 
  • When the lease comes to an end. 
  • Foreclosure of the rental property. 
  • Illegal use of the rental property. 

It’s illegal to evict tenants on the basis of a protected class or as a retaliatory tactic. If the landlord fails to follow these eviction laws it can result in legal issues. 

Warranty of Habitability 

You have a responsibility to provide your tenant with a livable unit. Among other things, it must have the following amenities. 

  • Hot and cold running water. 
  • A working HVAC system. 
  • Properly working plumbing and sanitation systems. 
  • Safe stairs and railings. 
  • Working smoke detectors. 
  • A locking mailbox. 
  • No mold. 

If the landlord fails to provide these basics to the tenant, then the California tenant may break the rental agreement legally.

Bottom Line

Needless to say, just understanding California landlord-tenant law isn’t an option for you as a landlord. You must follow it to the letter to be successful. 

If you need expert help with California security deposit laws or with managing your rental property, Westside Property Management is the company for you. We’re a full-service property management company based in Los Angeles. Get in touch to learn more!

This blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in your state. Laws change, and this post might not be updated at the time of your reading. Please contact us for any questions you have in regards to this content or any other aspect of your property management needs.