TenantsTips / USA / California Rental Laws

California Rental Laws

There are thousands of laws and guidelines pertaining to renting property in California, but there are a few that are particularly important for renters to understand. Many of these laws are covered under California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

California is one of the states in the U.S. that is the most sought-after in terms of renting property. The state is home to a number of big cities that are extremely desirable places to live, including San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. As a result, it can be difficult to find properties to rent, and landlords often take advantage of this situation, but renters in California have a number of laws on their side that protect against abuses during the rental process.

Rental Lease Agreements

A lease is a legally binding contract that most renters are required to sign, and the California Department of Consumer Affairs has laid out specific legal guidelines regarding leases in the state. For example, renters in California have the right to rent without discrimination. Reasons for possible discrimination include income, age, race, religion and sexual orientation.

Condition of Rental Units in California

Under California law, renters have the right to habitable unit, which means that it’s a safe place to live, and it’s the responsibility of the landlord to make sure this is the case. For example, rental units must be water and weather-proof, have electrical and plumbing systems that work properly, and the unit has to be sanitary. California law also states that there must be safe exits that can easily be accessed in case of an emergency, and multi-unit buildings are required to be equipped with smoke detectors that work, provided by the landlord.

Privacy Laws

In California, renters are guaranteed particular rights when it comes to privacy. For example, a landlord can’t just barge into a property—instead, the landlord has to give at least 24 hours of notice before entering a rental unit for any reason. Renters are also entitled to a mailbox that is private and equipped with a lock. Landlords are held responsible for protecting the private and financial information of renters, and they are also required to provide receipts documenting rent payments made by the tenant.

california rentals

California Renters’ Obligations

Just as a landlord is guided by the laws of California, renters themselves must also follow laws set forth by the state. For example, California tenants are bound by law to follow the lease agreement, and they are required to give at least 30 days’ notice before moving out of a property. This is so the landlord will have ample time to attempt to rent the property out to another tenant. Renters also must pay for damage they cause to a property.

If a dispute does arise between a renter and a landlord, the Department of Consumer Affairs has also put in place guidelines that dictate how this situation should be handled. The state of California, as most other states, encourages individuals to settle these disputes without legal interference, and the state also advises renters to voice their concerns and problems with their landlord directly.

It’s also a good idea for renters to contact the Department of Consumer Affairs before pursuing any legal action against a landlord, because this can save the tenant time and money in dealing with a possible dispute. The state recommends that tenant keep written records of all communication that occurs with their landlord, and they advise against threatening landlords or withholding rent or other payments as a form of retaliation.

In addition to state laws, there are a number of federal laws that also protect renters, including the federal Fair Housing Act, which covers a broad range of anti-discriminatory legislation for renters.


Login or Register FREE to add comment.