Things you Should know About California Rental Laws for Landlords & Tenants

As a rental property owner and landlord, it’s imperative that you know and understand the landlord and tenant laws of your state. Knowing the full extent of your rights and responsibilities and having an understanding of your tenant’s rights will help you avoid legal issues. Here is a brief overview of the current landlord-tenant laws of California

California Landlord Disclosures

In California, landlords must disclose information about the following to their tenants:

1. Nonrefundable Fees

In California, nonrefundable fees are not legally permitted.

2. The Security Deposit

As a California landlord, you are guided by the following conditions regarding the amount you charge as a security deposit: 

  1. Unfurnished unit: two months’ worth of rent.
  2. Furnished unit: three months’ worth of rent. 
  3. Active-duty servicemen (unfurnished unit): only one month’s worth of rent.
  4. Active-duty servicemen (furnished unit): two months’ worth of rent.
  5. Extra waterbed: an additional half-month’s worth of rent. 

You have 21 days following the end of a tenant’s lease agreement to refund their security deposit in California. This provided that they have not damaged your property or have an unpaid rent balance. Your tenant can request that you make a preliminary inspection before their lease agreement expires. This way the tenant will know before moving out what they are responsible for fixing on your property so that they can safeguard their entire security deposit. 

landlord responsibilities california

3. Rights of Domestic Violence Victims

You are not allowed to disclose a tenant’s domestic violence situation to any third party if you know about it. You can only reveal this if the tenant gives you permission. This permission must be recorded in writing, and only a court order can alter this rule due to the confidentiality and privacy of your tenants. 

4. The Owner or Agent Identity

 Under California law, you must inform your tenant of the following:

  • The landlord or owner’s name and address.
  • The property management company’s name and address.

California Tenant Rights and Responsibilities

California tenants have some basic rights that you should keep in mind as a landlord. Your tenant has the right to: 

  • Withhold their rent payment if they find out that you have not carried out your proper duties to maintain the property and its facilities as their landlord. 
  • Privacy in your rental property. This means you must provide them 48 hours’ notice before entering the property.
  • Receive an estimate list of any repair charges necessary following the end of their tenancy along with a copy of the section of California’s laws regarding security deposits

Your tenant also has some basic responsibilities that they must uphold while living on your rental property. They must: 

  • Keep the rental unit clean and in good condition. 
  • Exercise proper use and operation of all gas, plumbing, and electrical fixtures.
  • Not use or with illegal drugs on your property. 
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California Landlord Laws

As a California landlord, the law provides you with some basic rights. You have the right to: 

  • Claim a portion of or the entire security deposit from your tenant if they are unable to pay their rent payments. 
  • Enter the rental unit if an emergency happens such as during a fire, flood, or extreme weather conditions.

However, you also have some basic responsibilities as a landlord in California. You must: 

  • Adhere to state laws regarding the amount you charge as a security deposit and refund the deposit within 21 days of the end of your tenant’s lease agreement. 
  • Ensure that your rental unit is in livable and sanitary conditions for tenants to reside in. 

Overview of the California Landlord-Tenant Handbook

1. California Renters Rights Regarding their Privacy

Under California law, you must provide your tenant with written notice at least 24-hours in advance before entering the rental unit. You may also only enter between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm on weekdays. 

 2. Maintenance and Repairs of the Rental Property 

In California, landlord’s are responsible for ensuring your property remains in a habitable condition. This means: 

  • Making sure the exterior of the property is in good condition.
  • Ensuring all floors and stairways of the property are well-maintained to prevent injuries. 
california tenant law

3. California’s Housing Discrimination Laws 

Under California law, you must abide by the Fair Housing Act as a landlord. This means you cannot ask prospective tenants questions regarding national origin, color, race, religion, disability, sex, and familial status. You must also comply with the Unruh Civil Rights Act and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.

4. Security Deposits

In California, you can ask for a security deposit from your tenants in order to: 

  • Pay for damages caused by the tenant’s negligence.
  • Cover for unpaid rent.

5. Required Landlord Disclosures

You must disclose the following information in writing to your tenants: 

  • If there are any lead-based paint hazards in the property. 
  • If your property has any existing bed bugs. 

6. California Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent or Repair and Deduct

In some cases, tenants in California can withhold their rent payments or pay for the repair costs and deduct the cost of up to one month’s worth of rent. They can do so when:

  • There is a problem with the property that makes it inhabitable, such as an unattended plumbing issue. 
  • Their landlord has not responded to a maintenance request within 30 days.

7. California Tenant Rights to Small Claims Lawsuits 

In California Small Claims Courts, tenants can sue landlords up to $10,000 for various reasons. 


If you have a rental property in California, call Eagle Property Management at (916) 714-0123. 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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If you have specific questions regarding the California landlord and tenant laws, you should hire the services of a qualified attorney. Alternatively, you can seek help from a knowledgeable property management company, such as Eagle Property Management.

Disclaimer: Please note that this blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed attorney in California. Laws frequently 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

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