California is a state with a lot of landlord-tenant legislation, and California’s major cities have municipal ordinances that regulate rental properties. Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco each have municipal ordinances that every landlord should be aware.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is California’s largest city, with approximately four million people, and that equates to a lot of landlords and tenants. Los Angeles addresses landlord-tenant law in its municipal code, which is available here. Small landlords should be aware of multiple sections of the code.

  • Articles 5.2 through 5.9 of Chapter IV address discrimination. Age, student status, AIDS/HIV are all protected classes and cannot be discriminated against.
  • Article 12 prohibits discrimination based upon sexual orientation.
  • Section 47.05 of Article 7 addresses new locks in rental properties by requiring landlords to install new locks within 15 days of a request by a tenant.
  • Section 47.10 establishes a misdemeanor offense for a landlord that fails to pay water or electric utility bills in a master-metered property.

Chapter XV is the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, which establishes rent control on much of the L.A.’s housing stock, as well as payment of interest on security deposits for properties subject to rent control.

Chapter XVI has other housing regulations, including the housing code, the rent escrow account program, the tenant relocation assistance program, and the foreclosure registry program.

San Diego

San Diego is California’s second largest city, with approximately 1.4 million people. San Diego’s municipal code can be located here, which contains some very important laws for landlords to know. Ch. 9, Art. 8, Div. 7 contains the “Tenant’s Right To Know Regulations.”

These regulations contain termination of tenancy provisions that state, “A residential tenancy of more than two years duration shall not be terminated, nor shall its renewal be refused, except for one or more of the following reasons...” Nine specific reasons are listed, including the non-payment of rent. Essentially, a San Diego lease after two years can end only due to one of the nine reasons, and a lease renewal cannot be refused.

San Francisco

San Francisco is California’s fourth largest city, with approximately 900,000 people (San Jose is actually larger than San Francisco). San Francisco’s municipal code is located here, and it contains multiple provisions that affect landlord-tenant law scattered throughout the code.

The San Francisco Administrative Code contains multiple regulations affecting landlords. Ch. 49 requires payment of interest on security deposits. The amount of the interest rate can be found at www.sfrb.org. Ch. 49 also states that a landlord may not prohibit a tenant who resides in a building from using common areas in that building to distribute literature to other building tenants, including literature distributed on behalf of a tenants' association or other tenants' organization, where the literature relates to issues of common interest or concern to the buildings' tenancies.

Ch. 49B requires that when a residential rental unit is permanently vacated by all tenants, the landlord shall re-key or replace all door locks that are exclusive to that unit. Ch. 74 regulates that rent escrow account program, which exists to encourage full and expedient compliance by landlords with the standards for lead-safe dwellings.

Ch. 87 is the Fair Housing Implementation Ordinance, which facilitates compliance with federal, state and local fair housing laws, and promote housing opportunities for residents of San Francisco. A "Protected class" means those groups that receive protection from housing discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3601 et seq., the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, Government Code §§ 12900 et seq., Sections 65008 and 65589.5 of the Government Code, and Section 3304 of Article 33 of the San Francisco Police Code.

The Health Code Article 11A is the Bed Bug Infestation Prevention, Treatment, Disclosure, and Reporting ordinance, which states that at the request of a prospective tenant, a property owner and/or property manager shall furnish to the tenant written disclosure of the unit's bed bug infestation and abatement history for the previous two years . If there is no history of bed bug infestation, the property owner or manager shall disclose that fact in writing.