10 Important Facts About California Landlord-Tenant Law

If you own rental property, you must be aware of and knowledgeable about the landlord and tenant laws in your state.

In the event that a tenant’s apartment requires repairs, what should they do? Is it legal for a landlord to evict a tenant? How long in advance of moving out must a renter give their landlord notice? Can a landlord raise a tenant’s rent? These and other questions are covered in California Landlord-Tenant Law: 10 Important Facts for 2022.It will be easier for you to stay out of trouble if you are fully aware of your obligations and rights as well as those of your tenant.

Here are 10 Important Facts about California’s landlord-tenant laws:

How do you explain a lease agreement?

Any agreement between a landlord and potential tenants, whether verbal or written, constitutes a lease. In accordance with this contract, the landlord is granting these renters permission to live on their property in exchange for rent payments. A landlord is required by state law to reveal any information that would be crucial for tenants. To prevent misunderstandings or errors on the part of either party, this is done.

According to Californian law, the following are generally the things that are revealed in every rental agreement:

  • California law stipulates that the following are typically disclosed in any rental agreement:
  • List of those who are signatories to the leasing agreement.
  • Details about the property
  • Lease termination policies.
  • Eviction policies.
  • Amount of rent, due date, and payment methods.
  • Late fee policy.
  • Security deposit policies.
  • Additional mandatory disclosures 

When Can a Landlord Evict a Tenant Under California Laws?

Tenants who have occupied residences for at least a year are protected from unfair, no-fault evictions by the state’s new rent control legislation. You can read more about eviction process in California.  It is unlawful to evict a tenant for complaining about the landlord or engaging in discriminatory behavior. 

Landlords are prohibited by the Fair Housing Act from discriminating against potential tenants on the basis of their sex, race, color, national origin, religion, familial status, or disability. However, if the renters fail to pay rent on time or refuse to abide by the lease agreement, California law still permits the removal of troublesome tenants. Having a dog or cat in the event that the leasing agreement forbids pets is one example of refusing to comply. The landlord has good reason to evict the tenant if they kept the animal inside the unit.

Reasons why a landlord might evict a tenant:

  • Rental property agreement breach

  • Criminal activity

  • Failure to pay

  •  If a rental unit is subject to both local and state just cause for eviction laws

Do California Landlords Run Criminal History Checks?

Although some sorts of criminal history information may not be sought or taken into account, housing providers may verify applicants’ criminal histories. Here are 7 Tips in Screening Potential Tenants of Your Rental Property

For instance, landlords are not allowed to take into account certain types of criminal history, such as 

1) arrests that resulted in no conviction

2) participation in a pretrial or post-trial diversion program

3) any record of a conviction that has been sealed by the court

4) any conviction that came from the juvenile justice system. 

Landlords are also not allowed to place “blanket bans” on all applicants with criminal histories.  Instead, they must consider the individual circumstances of each.

How much can Landlords raise the rent in California?

The landlord is only permitted to increase your rent in a 12-month period by 5% plus the inflation rate or 10%, whichever is lower, provided you are protected by the Tenant Protection Act (State rent limits), which is applicable to a substantial portion of rental homes. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California signed a bill requiring statewide rent control in 2019. As a result, from this point forward until Jan. 1, 2030, California law restricts rent increases to 5% annually plus inflation.

What Is California’s Maximum Late Fee for Rent?

Although California law does not specify a maximum late rent fee, it does indicate that late rent fees should be “reasonable.” Most landlords in California charge 5% for any late rent payments, which is generally seen as a reasonable late rent fee in the state. The preset late fee should not exceed the landlord’s reasonable estimate of additional expenses brought on by the late payment.

A late fee that is excessive enough to qualify as a penalty is illegal. The California Tenant-landlord law does set maximums for how much a landlord can charge for a bounced rent check. For the first bounced check, they can charge a tenant $25, and $35 for each subsequent bounced check. The amount of a bounced rent check fee that a landlord may demand is limited by law. Tenants may be assessed a $25 fee for the first bounced check and a $35 fee for each additional check.

What Is the California Rent Grace Period?

Although there is legislation that governs when a landlord can serve their tenant with a “pay or quit” notice, which forces the tenant to either pay rent or initiate eviction proceedings, California law does not have a specific rent grace period. In spite of this, landlords can and ought to stipulate in the lease a rent grace period, which is ordinarily three to five days after the rent is due.

The second day of delinquent rent is the earliest a California landlord may serve this notice. After the letter is delivered, the renter has three days to pay rent or begin the eviction procedure.

Security Deposit

What deductions are allowed on a California security deposit?

Security deposit can be use for the cost of repairs may be deducted from the security deposit if the property is damaged by the tenant or a tenant’s visitor. Ordinary wear and tear are not deductible by landlords.

Landlords have the right to make cleaning expenses from security deposits when renters vacate the property. However, there is a catch to this one: Landlords can only deduct the cost of cleaning the unit to the same standard as when the last renter moved in. One of the reasons a move-in and move-out inspection is a good idea is to describe the condition of the apartment at the start and end of a lease.

Is the amount of the security deposit in California subject to a cap?

Only for rentals in homes. According to California law, security deposits for unfurnished apartments cannot be greater than double the amount of the rent per month. The security deposit for furnished flats may be up to three months’ worth of rent.

After California Senate Bill No. 644 was approved in 2019, landlords cannot demand security deposits from active duty military tenants that are greater than one month’s rent for unfurnished apartments and two months’ rent for furnished apartments.  The amount of a security deposit is not capped in California when renting out commercial, property.

When Must Security Deposits in California Be Returned?

Non-rent payments paid to landlords include security deposits. Landlords use them to safeguard themselves in the event of infractions, damage, or breaches of rental contracts.

According to California rental law, landlords have 21 days after a tenant vacates the premises to send the security deposit back or personally deliver a letter outlining the reasons why they are holding some or all of it. If the landlord retains a portion or the entire security deposit, they must provide copies of the original receipts for the deductions or charges, an itemized list of all deductions, and any refund of the security deposit that remains. All of this must be finished in the allotted 21 days.

When is a Californian tenant permitted to withhold rent?

Another remedy known as “rent withholding” may be available to a tenant in order to get repairs completed. According to the law, a tenant has the right to withhold (stop paying) some or all of the rent if the landlord fails to remedy substantial flaws that violate the implied warranty of habitability.  What are Landlord Liability Issues You Need Know? 

The following flaws were uncovered by the superior court severe enough to warrant not paying rent:

  • The bathroom ceiling collapsed and wasn’t fixed
  • The persistence of mice, rats, and cockroaches
  • Four of the apartment’s rooms have no heat
  • Blocked drains
  • Faulty wiring that is visible

Summary

When renting a residential unit, it is crucial that renters are aware of their legal rights. The several fair housing regulations that protect tenants from illegal discrimination and harassment are covered in this article. All California tenants’ rights are to be upheld and protected by these laws, without exception.

If you have a rental property in California, call Eagle Property Management at (916) 714-0123 or fill out contact form here. We are well versed with the state’s Landlord-Tenant Laws and with our services, we can help keep you from running into legal issues with your rental property.

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