Important California Landlord - Tenant Laws 

Los Angeles lease distinction

Los Angeles protect tenants in its lease against any discrimination. This includes age, student status, AIDS/HIV positive amongst the obvious protected classes. The law also addresses that landlords are required to install new locks in rental properties upon tenant’s request. Landlords are also required to pay water and electric utility bills in a master-metered property.

San Diego lease distinction

San Diego lists nine specific reasons, for which a landlord can terminate a lease of more than two years, or refuse a renewal. Because in San Diego, landlords cannot terminate a lease that is longer than two years for any except the nine reasons, including non-payment of rent.

San Francisco lease distinction

If you are a landlord in San Francisco, you owe your tenant interest on security deposit. You also have to re-key or change all door locks exclusive to your unit. You also have to disclose whether your unit had bed bugs in the last two years or not. San Francisco has a minimum heat requirement that has been set for rental units in the City of San Francisco. It outlines specific temperature requirements to allow tenants to be warm enough or cool enough as needed.

The Move out process

The landlord is specifically required to properly return the security deposit with documentation and provide a move out inspection for the tenant. California has a detailed process for giving your tenant the opportunity to fix any problem areas before move out, so they may avoid deductions from their security deposit. 

Utilities in California: 

Does your rental have a shared meter for utilities? Under California law, the landlord is required to disclose to the tenant prior to the start of the tenancy, if any utility meter is shared between separate dwelling units.

Rent payments in California

Landlords, be aware that you are limited to one month’s prepaid rent in California. Make sure to provide a written receipt of any prepaid rent received. If a payment is returned for lack of sufficient funds or a stop payment, the landlord has the right to require that the tenant pay rent in cash for up to three consecutive months, as long as the landlord complies with the notice requirements of Cal.Civ.Code §1947.3. In California, there are specific requirements for notifying your tenant of a rent increase. It depends on the length of the rental term and the amount of the increase. 

Lease termination notices in California

In California, there is a unique clause for an automatic extension provision, which means, if the tenant fails to give proper notice of their intention to renew the lease, they are obligated to pay the next month’s rent (unless the property is rented to another tenant). This means the tenant must provide proper notice to the landlord of their intention to vacate the leased premises.

Depending on the length of the tenancy, landlords must provide either 30 or 60 days notice to the tenant of their intention to terminate the tenancy. There are some other requirements of the landlord, so make sure to review California Civil Code §1946.1 for all of the specifications.

Specific to California, the tenant has the right to end the tenancy early if a tenant is the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. The notice must be given in writing and must be accompanied by valid written proof of the circumstances. The tenant is responsible for the payment of rent for 30 days following the notice to terminate.

Deposits and Fees

Can you charge a pet deposit or a non-refundable pet fee? Not in California. This means that any damage attributable to a pet must be taken from a security deposit. A security deposit in California has a maximum dollar amount which depends on whether the rental unit is furnished or unfurnished. 

Returning the Security Deposit:

Be prepared to follow the appropriate steps to ensure you comply with the requirements for the return of your tenant’s security deposit. You must provide proof of what you deducted and why, detailing damages incurred and repairs made in an itemized statement. It is up to you to substantiate that any amounts withheld from the deposit were reasonable and necessary.

Notice to Quit and Holdover in CA

California has an automatic extension clause, which states that the lease automatically renews for a 30 day period if the tenant fails to provide the minimum 30 days’ written notice. At that point the tenancy is considered month-to-month, and the landlord is allowed to double the monthly rent amount for a month-to-month lease.  

While the tenant must provide 30 days’ written notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy, the landlord’s required notice period will depend on how long the tenant has occupied the premises. California Civil Code §1946.1 states that the landlord may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by providing 60 days’ written notice to the tenant. If the tenant has resided in the premises for less than one year, the landlord may terminate a month-to-month tenancy by providing 30 days’ written notice to Tenant.