Owning a property unit in California can be very lucrative for you, with the massive housing market in California you have the opportunity to earn a pretty healthy passive income through your real estate. Especially when it comes to renting out your property/properties in California. People are always looking to rent properties and you can position yourself nicely to be able to get some good long term tenants for your property units. However with that being said, the real estate market is going through a tough time at the moment with everything going on in the world right now, but does that mean that real estate in California is dead? Absolutely not! A decline in the real estate market is always accompanied by a bounce back and that is when you can take full advantage and make some good passive income with your rental units. But you should definitely consider the local rent laws California.

Rent Laws California

Whenever you are looking to rent out your home or apartment you always want to make sure that you read thoroughly through all the rent laws in California before you begin the process of renting out your units. You may be a seasoned real estate investor that frequently rents out their properties to tenants and just want to brush up on all the rent laws in California. Or you may be someone that is just getting started in your real estate journey and want to learn everything you need to know about the rent laws California so that you are equipped with all the necessary knowledge to be able to succeed in the real estate market in 2020 and beyond. Let’s dive into the most important rent laws in California that we think will greatly assist you in your real estate journey.

Required Landlord Disclosures In California

It is stated in the law that all California landlords are required to disclose a certain set of information to tenants in order to rent out their property unit without running into any problems later down the road. This is usually done in the lease/rental agreement and some of the things that a landlord is required to disclose to their potential tenants are the following: 

Is The Tenant Paying For Someone Else’s Utilities?

Written in the lease/rental agreement the landlord is required to disclose if any of the unit’s utilities like gas and other electric services are being used somewhere else in addition to the tenants part of the property. If so then in this disclosure the landlord is required to break down the costs of all the units utilities and how they are being shared fairly between the people making use of such utilities.

Is There Toxic Mold In The Property Unit?

If the landlord is aware or is under the suspicion that there is toxic mold in the property unit then this needs to be disclosed and this disclosure needs to be brought to the potential tenant before any lease or rental agreement is signed in order to give the tenant fair warning and allow them to decide if this rental unit is still a good fit for them.

Pest Control Services

If a landlord has made use of any pest control services in their property unit then this needs to by law be clearly disclosed to the potential tenant with a copy of the notice from the pest control service. This notice needs to state the following

  • Which pest was the pest control service called in to control
  • The pesticides used in the termination of the stated pest/pests

Security Deposit Limit And Return Policy In California

By law a landlord is limited to the amount of money they can charge for a security deposit which is no more than 2 months worth of rent if the property unit is unfurnished and up to 3 months worth of rent if the unit is furnished. This security deposit also needs to be returned to the tenant within 21 days of the tenant moving out in order to comply with the rent law in California. 

Rent Laws California

If the landlord does not return the security deposit within that 21 day time period then a tenant is allowed to take further action in order to get their security deposit back.  If the full deposit amount is not going to be given back in full, then the landlord is required to provide the tenant with the correct amount accompanied by a document of all the deductions that were made. If the tenant damaged any part of the property unit during the duration of their stay the amount to fix that item of the house will be taken out of the security deposit amount and the difference paid back to the tenant, provided that the document with the deductions on it is given to the tenant.

Small Claims Court In California

If a tenant does not get their security deposit back or they do not receive their full security deposit amount back in full without a clear document and explanation then the tenant by law is allowed to sue their landlord in small claims court up to a dollar amount of $10 000. 

It’s important to understand in what situations a landlord would withhold a tenant’s security deposit or make deductions to their deposit. A landlord may deduct money from a deposit in the following situations:

  • Rent that goes unpaid
  • Unpaid utility charges
  • Repair or damage caused by the tenant or pet occupying the property unit
  • Cleaning the property unit
  • Undoing changes made to the property by the tenant during their stay in the unit

If none of these situations are applicable and a tenants security deposit is still withheld or deducted then a tenant by law is allowed to sue the landlord in small claims court in order to get their deposit back.

Increasing Rent And The Law In California On Late Rent Payments

It’s required by state law to provide a tenant with adequate notice before their rent is to be increased and every landlord needs to comply with this rent law in California. And in the case a tenant pays their rent late there are a few things stated in the law about that which will go over.

In the lease or rental agreement it will clearly state on which day of the month the rent is due and the tenant is required by law to pay their rent on that day each and every month. Under California law a landlord is allowed to issue a late fee to the tenant in times when their rent was paid late. 

With that being said the late fee has to be reasonable with regards to the amount of time that has passed since the full rent amount was due. A landlord cannot simply charge any amount that they wish as a late rent free stated in the rent law in California. If a tenant does not make a late payment on their rent but rather their check has bounced for any possible reason then a landlord is allowed to charge the tenant $25 for the first bounced check and then $35 for each additional bounced check thereafter. To avoid this from happening a tenant can opt to set up a direct bank payment to their landlord each month and then as a tenant you won’t run into this problem provided that the tenant has adequate funds in their bank account at the time of the payment being taken off.

When it comes to the amount of notice a landlord needs to give a tenant with regards to increasing their monthly rent, a landlord needs to notify a tenant at least 30 days prior to making the rent increase change. A landlord is also by law not allowed to increase a tenants rents for discriminatory purposes such as race.

Tenants Rights With Regards To Rent In California

In some situations tenants are covered by California state rent law when it comes to withholding rent from their landlord and moving out of the property unit without giving any prior notice given to the landlord. A tenant also has the right to sue the landlord in some situations which we will cover now.

When a tenant moves into a home or apartment they are entitled to a living space that is clear of any health hazards and is in good living condition. If a landlord fails to meet these requirements or fails to conduct key structural maintenance to the unit of property then a tenant is allowed to do the following according to California state rent laws:

  • Withhold rent
  • Pay for repairs themselves and deduct the cost from their rent (“repair and deduct”)
  • Call state or local building health inspectors
  • Sue the landlord in court
  • Move out of the property unit without any prior notice.

If a landlord then retaliates against the tenant for taking these certain actions against them then that is illegal for the landlord to do according to the rent laws in California state

The Laws Regarding Termination And Eviction

If for any reason a tenant is causing any sort of problems for the landlord, the rent law in california states that termination of the tenants lease or rent agreement or an eviction notice can be issued to the tenant who is causing the problems for the landlord. Let’s go over some of the aspects of this state law.

A landlord cannot simply evict a tenant without following all the guidelines set out by the state. If for example a tenant is disrupting the neighbours constantly or is in violation of any of the lease or rental agreements then according to the state law in California the tenant has 3 days excluding Saturdays, Sundays and other holidays to fix the problem in question or the landlord can issue an eviction notice to the tenant.

A landlord can also issue an unconditional quit termination to the tenant who is violating any rental agreements. This is when a tenant has to move out of the property unit with very short notice and this is unconditional. In the state of California the law states that a landlord can issue an unconditional quit termination if a tenant is assigning or subletting without permission, committing waste or a nuisance and illegal activity on the premises.

The tenant will then have 3 days excluding Saturdays, Sundays and any other holidays to move out of the property unit before further action is taken by the landlord.

Statewide Rent Control In California

As of January 1, 2020, California will have statewide rent control (AB 1482 California Tenant Protection Act). AB 1482 caps rent increases statewide for qualifying units at 5% plus inflation, or 10% of the lowest gross rental rate charged at any time during the 12 months prior to the increase-whichever is lower. Additionally, rent may only be raised once over any 12 month period. AB 1482 does not override more restrictive city and county rent controls, but it might apply to units they don’t cover.

The information provided in this article does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only.  Information on this website may not constitute the most up-to-date legal or other information. 

Now you should have a pretty good understanding of some of the most important rent laws in California. Before renting out your home or apartment it is always advised to read through as much of the law as possible to avoid running into any problems later down the line. 

We hope that all your questions regarding rent laws in California were answered, if you have any further questions or concerns then feel free to get in contact with us here. With many years of experience in the field we would be more than happy to help you out with any questions that you might have. We aim to get back to everyone as soon as possible. You can also browse or search the rest of our website if you are looking for any other information.