California has one of the largest renter populations in the country. In fact, more than 45% of the population lives in rented homes.
California is generally a tenant-friendly state. In other words, tenants have numerous protections and rights that they don’t have in other states. Among other things, there are heavy restrictions on serving notices and evictions, rigid laws on security deposits, and also overarching state rent control policies.
The following is a basic overview of the California landlord-tenant laws. Whether you’re just starting out as a landlord or simply want to learn more, this guide should help you get started.
Required Landlord Disclosures in California
As a landlord, you must follow the federal, state, and local laws in regards to informing tenants about facts, policies, and rules about their rental properties. In California, you must let your tenant know of the following:
- The use of lead-based paint on the property. Was your property built before 1978? If so, chances are lead-based paint was used. Lead paint was banned in 1978 due to being a health hazard
- Death in the unit. Has someone ever passed away in the unit? If so, you must let your tenant know about it before they can sign the lease. The only exception to this is if the cause of the death was HIV/AIDS
- Presence of pests and pesticides. You must disclose any known pests and previous use of pesticides in the unit to your tenant
- Information about bed bugs. According to Civ. Code §§ 1954.603, you must let your tenant know about the information regarding bed bug infestations
- Common utility use and payment. You must disclose to your tenant how utility fees are going to be applied, and you must detail how you’re going to divide them up
Tenants’ Rights & Responsibilities in California
The statewide landlord-tenant law gives tenants certain rights and responsibilities. When it comes to rights, your tenants have a right to:
- Be provided with important disclosures regarding the property before they can sign the lease agreement
- Live in a property that meets all the basic safety, health, and building codes as contained in the California Warranty of Habitability
- Be treated with respect and fairness in accordance with the California Fair Housing Act
- Remain in the property until the landlord has followed the proper eviction procedure against them
- Receive adequate notice before a landlord can enter their rented premises
- Receive proper notice before a landlord can make changes to the terms of the lease agreement
- Withhold rent if the landlord fails to maintain habitable premises
When it comes to tenant responsibilities, here are some of the most common ones:
- Abiding by all terms of the lease agreement, including paying rent without fail
- Maintaining the unit, keeping it clean and sanitary at all times
- Notifying the landlord about maintenance issues that crop up
- Not disturbing the peace and quiet of neighbors
- Serving the landlord with proper notice when looking to move out of their rented premises
Landlords’ Rights & Responsibilities in California
California landlords have the following rights:
- To be given proper notice when a tenant wants to move out of their rental unit
- Make changes to the terms of the lease agreement. However, before doing so, the landlord must first notify their tenant
- Increase rent in accordance with the lease agreement
- Enter the rented premises to carry out important responsibilities
- Terminate the lease when a tenant fails to adhere to the terms of the lease agreement. For instance, a tenant fails to make rent payments or causes negligent property damage to the unit
When it comes to responsibilities, California landlords are responsible for the following:
- Drafting a legal lease agreement
- Treating all tenants equally and fairly as per the state’s Fair Housing Act
- Ensuring the property meets all the basic habitability codes
- Providing their tenants with reasonable response times when they make a maintenance request
- Letting prospective tenants know of important disclosures about the rental before allowing them to sign the lease agreement
Overview of the California Landlord-Tenant Laws
1. Landlord Entry
While your tenant has a right to privacy, landlords do have the right of entry. You are legally allowed to enter your tenant’s premises for any of the following reasons:
- To make repairs or improvements that a tenant had requested
- To show the unit to prospective tenants, lenders, or buyers
- Under orders of the court
- To inspect the unit for lease adherence
- In case of an emergency
When it comes to the notice period, California entry laws require that you do so 24 hours beforehand. The time of entry must also be reasonable, as well.
2. Housing Discrimination
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against tenants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability (mental or physical), national origin, and familial status.
California also extends additional protections to tenants on the basis of marital status, immigration status/citizenship, age, gender identity/gender expression, military or veteran status, primary language, ancestry/national origin, genetic information, source of income, and sexual orientation.
3. Small Claims Courts
California, just like other states, has small claims courts. These courts are designed to hear cases whose lawsuits amount to a maximum of $10,000. However, in a single year, you can only file a maximum of 2 cases that amount to more than $2,500.
4. Evictions in California
Of course, as a landlord, you have a right to evict a tenant under certain situations. For example, if the tenant fails to pay rent, causes negligent property damage, or fails to adhere to the terms of the lease agreement.
Regardless, for the eviction to be successful, you must follow the proper eviction procedure, as prescribed in law.
Understanding California’s landlord-tenant laws are one of the most vital aspects of being a landlord. In order for your investment to be a success, your rental properties must remain legally compliant. This will save you both time and money in the long run.
Still, the nuances of these laws can be a lot to take in. If you need help with landlord-tenant laws or any other aspect of property management, Conrad Property Management Inc. is here to help! We offer professional property management services to maximize the return on your investment and reduce your stress. Contact us today to learn more!
Disclaimer: This information is in no way intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws change and this information may not be up to date at the time you read it. For expert legal advice, kindly get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced property management company like Conrad Property Management Inc. directly.