California Landlord-Tenant Laws: An Overview

  1. Landlord-tenant laws
  2. State-specific landlord-tenant laws
  3. California landlord-tenant laws

Living in rented accommodation comes with its own set of rights and responsibilities. As a California landlord or tenant, it is essential to be aware of the state-specific California landlord tenant laws that govern your renting relationship. This article provides an overview of the most important California landlord-tenant laws, including provisions on security deposits, tenant rights, and eviction. Whether you are a tenant looking to understand your rights or a landlord trying to ensure compliance with the law, it is important to have a good understanding of California's landlord-tenant laws. In this article, we will discuss these laws in detail, including information about rent increases, evictions, and more. California landlords and tenants must abide by a variety of state laws, including the California landlord tenant laws, to ensure that their tenancy is both legal and fair.

This article provides an overview of these rules, including information on tenancy agreements, security deposits, rent control, and more. When considering a tenancy in California, it is important to know the different types available. There are three main types of tenancy in California: month-to-month, fixed-term, and subleases. A month-to-month tenancy is one that can be terminated at any time with the proper notice from either party.

A fixed-term tenancy is one that lasts for a predetermined period of time, usually one year, with no ability to terminate until the term has expired. A sublease is when an existing tenant rents out part or all of the rental unit to another person. Regardless of the type of tenancy, all tenants in California must sign a written tenancy agreement which outlines the terms of the rental arrangement. This agreement should include details such as the rental rate, payment terms, lease duration, and any other applicable rules or regulations.

It is important for both parties to thoroughly read and understand the agreement before signing.

Security deposits

are an important part of any tenancy agreement in California. A landlord may only charge up to two months' rent as a security deposit. The deposit must be returned to the tenant within 21 days of the end of the tenancy.

Additionally, it must be held in a trust account or in an insured financial institution during the term of the lease. Many cities in California have enacted rent control laws which limit the amount that landlords can increase rent each year. Currently, rent control laws are in effect in Berkeley, East Palo Alto, Hayward, Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose, and Santa Monica. These laws generally restrict rent increases to a set percentage each year and require landlords to provide certain protections to tenants facing eviction.

When terminating a tenancy in California, both landlords and tenants must give proper notice depending on the type of tenancy and the reason for termination. For month-to-month tenancies, landlords must give at least 30 days' notice if the tenancy has been in place for less than one year and 60 days' notice if it has been in place for more than one year. Tenants must also give proper notice when terminating a month-to-month tenancy or breaking a fixed-term agreement early. If a tenant fails to pay rent or otherwise breaches the lease agreement, a landlord may file an unlawful detainer lawsuit to evict them from the rental unit.

This process can be lengthy and expensive so it is important for landlords to thoroughly document their efforts to resolve the issue before filing suit. In addition to following state laws, landlords in California have specific responsibilities to their tenants. These include providing habitable premises at all times, making necessary repairs in a timely manner, and complying with all local health and safety codes. Tenants also have specific responsibilities such as paying rent on time and taking care of the rental unit as if it were their own home.

Both landlords and tenants have rights and remedies available to them if their tenancy becomes contentious. Landlords can use small claims court to recover unpaid rent or sue for damages caused by tenant negligence. Tenants can use the right to repair and deduct if necessary repairs are not made by their landlord or seek legal recourse if they are wrongfully evicted. Finally, there are several resources available for both landlords and tenants in California who need help understanding their rights and responsibilities under state law. For landlords, the California Department of Consumer Affairs provides information on landlord-tenant law as well as resources such as sample forms and statutes.

For tenants, there are a number of tenant advocacy organizations throughout California that provide legal advice and assistance.

Rent Control

Rent Control Rent control laws in California are set by local governments. The state's Tenant Protection Act of 2019 grants cities and counties the authority to regulate rent increases on residential property. While some cities have implemented rent control ordinances, many do not have rent control laws in place. In cities that have rent control, landlords are usually restricted from raising rents more than a certain percentage each year.

Additionally, they may not be able to evict tenants without cause. In most cases, landlords must provide tenants with written notice before raising rents or evicting them. It is important for landlords and tenants to stay informed about their local rent control laws as they can vary significantly from city to city. Additionally, it is important for both parties to understand the terms of their rental agreement and the state's laws so that they can ensure that their tenancy is in compliance.


When terminating a tenancy in California, landlords and tenants must follow certain notice requirements.

Generally, landlords must provide the tenant with a written notice of termination at least 30 days prior to the end of the rental period. Tenants must provide the landlord with a written notice of termination at least 30 days prior to the end of the rental period. If the tenant has breached the rental agreement, the landlord may give a three-day notice to quit. The tenant must then leave the premises within three days or face eviction. In cases where the tenant has failed to pay rent, the landlord may give a three-day notice of nonpayment of rent.

The tenant must then pay rent within three days or face eviction. If the tenant remains on the premises after the termination notice period has expired, the landlord may begin eviction proceedings. In some cities, such as San Francisco and Los Angeles, landlords are required to give tenants additional notice if they wish to terminate a tenancy. For example, in San Francisco, landlords must provide at least 60 days' notice if they wish to terminate a month-to-month tenancy.

Security Deposits

In California, landlords must abide by certain laws when it comes to security deposits. These rules are in place to protect the rights of both parties.

The maximum amount of a security deposit that a landlord can charge is two months’ rent for unfurnished rental units and three months’ rent for furnished rental units. If the tenant pays rent on a weekly basis, the maximum deposit is equal to two or three weeks' rent, respectively. Landlords are also required to store the security deposit in a separate, interest-bearing account in a financial institution located in California. The landlord must provide written disclosure of the interest rate, the name and address of the financial institution, and how the tenant can make a claim against the security deposit. The landlord must also provide an itemized list of any deductions taken from the security deposit within 21 days of the tenant vacating the rental unit. It is important for tenants to be aware of their rights when it comes to security deposits in California.

Tenants should make sure they understand all of the rules and regulations that apply and take steps to ensure their security deposits are being handled properly.


Eviction is the legal process a landlord must take in order to remove a tenant from their property. In California, landlords must follow certain rules and regulations when evicting a tenant. They must first provide written notice to the tenant, which must include the reason for eviction and the date by which they must vacate the premises. If the tenant fails to comply with the notice, the landlord can file an Unlawful Detainer action with the court.

The court will then decide whether the tenant should be evicted, and if so, the court will issue a Writ of Possession. This document grants the landlord possession of their property and allows them to remove the tenant. Once a Writ of Possession is issued, the landlord may hire a sheriff or marshal to enforce it. This person will physically remove the tenant from the property and restore possession to the landlord. The tenant has a right to appeal the court's decision, but they must do so within five days of receiving the Writ of Possession.

If they fail to do so, they will be considered to have vacated the property.

Tenant Responsibilities

In California, tenants have several responsibilities to their landlords. These include paying rent on time, keeping the rental property in good condition, and abiding by all of the rules in the rental agreement. Tenants must also respect their neighbors and other tenants in the building, and not engage in activities that could be considered disruptive or dangerous. Tenants must also inform their landlords if they plan to move out, and must provide adequate notice as outlined in their lease.

If a tenant moves out before the end of the lease, they may be responsible for any remaining rent owed. Tenants are also responsible for any damage they cause to the rental property, either intentionally or accidentally. This includes damage caused by pets or any guests a tenant may have. Tenants should also not make any major changes to the rental property without their landlord's permission. Finally, tenants are responsible for complying with all local laws and ordinances. This includes not engaging in illegal activity on the rental property or within the building.


ResourcesFinding reliable information about California landlord-tenant laws is essential for both landlords and tenants.

Fortunately, there are many helpful resources available. Here are some of the best resources to use when researching California landlord-tenant laws:• California Department of Consumer Affairs: The California Department of Consumer Affairs provides extensive information on landlord-tenant laws, as well as other legal issues related to renting. The website includes a searchable database of relevant state and federal laws, as well as an online complaint form.• California Tenants Union: The California Tenants Union is a non-profit organization that provides free legal assistance and education to tenants in California. The website includes an online tenant rights manual, as well as information on common tenant issues.• California Apartment Association: The California Apartment Association is a trade organization that provides education, advocacy, and resources to landlords in the state.

The website includes information on landlord-tenant laws, as well as a legal advice section.• California Landlord-Tenant Law Handbook: This handbook is published by the California Department of Consumer Affairs and provides information on tenant rights, landlord obligations, and other legal issues related to renting in the state.

Types of Tenancy

California landlords and tenants must understand the different types of tenancy to ensure that their tenancy is legal and fair. In California, there are three main types of tenancy: tenancy for years, periodic tenancy, and tenancy at will.

Tenancy for Years

A tenancy for years is an agreement between a landlord and tenant that lasts for a specified amount of time. This type of tenancy must be in writing and signed by both parties.

The landlord cannot increase the rent during the term of the agreement, unless the agreement provides for it. At the end of the lease period, the landlord and tenant can agree to renew the lease or enter into a new agreement.

Periodic Tenancy

A periodic tenancy is an agreement between a landlord and tenant that continues until either party gives notice to terminate it. The length of the tenancy depends on how often rent is paid; if rent is paid weekly, then the tenancy is weekly.

The landlord can increase the rent during a periodic tenancy as long as they give proper notice to the tenant.

Tenancy at Will

A tenancy at will is an agreement between a landlord and tenant where either party can terminate the agreement at any time, with or without cause. The rental amount may be changed by either party with proper notice. Tenancies at will are not recommended as they provide little security for either party.

Rights and Remedies

California landlords and tenants both have rights and remedies under the state's landlord-tenant laws.

These laws provide a framework for the terms of the tenancy, such as the payment of rent, the length of the lease, and the responsibilities of both parties. Landlords in California have the right to receive payment for rent in a timely manner and to be able to enter the premises for certain reasons, such as conducting necessary repairs or performing inspections. Landlords must also abide by the terms of the lease and may not discriminate based on race, religion, or other protected classes. Tenants in California have the right to a safe and habitable living space, as well as to receive notice before a landlord enters their premises.

Tenants also have the right to withhold rent if a landlord does not fulfill their obligations. If either party is not abiding by the terms of the lease or state law, they can seek legal remedies. Landlords may be able to evict tenants who are not paying rent or are damaging the property. Tenants may be able to sue landlords who are not fulfilling their obligations under the lease or state law.

Landlord Responsibilities

In California, landlords have certain obligations to tenants under the state's landlord-tenant laws. These obligations may vary depending on the type of rental agreement, but generally include the following:Providing a safe and habitable unit: Landlords must ensure that all rental units are safe and habitable. This includes making necessary repairs and taking steps to protect tenants from health and safety hazards.

Maintaining the property in good condition:

Landlords must keep rental properties in good condition, including making necessary repairs in a timely manner.

Complying with local building codes: Landlords must adhere to all applicable local building codes when making repairs or renovations.

Complying with state and local laws:

Landlords must comply with all applicable state and local laws, including those related to tenant privacy, discrimination, and eviction.

Providing required disclosures:

Landlords must provide tenants with certain disclosures, such as information about lead-based paint or the availability of utility services.

Returning security deposits:

Landlords must return security deposits within a certain time frame after a tenant moves out.

Abiding by rent control rules: In certain cities, landlords must abide by rent control rules that limit how much they can charge for rent.

Tenancy Agreements

A tenancy agreement is an important legal document between a landlord and a tenant that outlines the terms of the rental agreement. In California, there are certain elements that must be included in a valid tenancy agreement. These elements include:Rental AmountThe rental amount must be clearly stated in the tenancy agreement. This amount should include both the base rent and any additional fees that may be charged.

The tenant should also be aware of any increases to the rent that may occur over time.

Term of the Agreement

The term of the tenancy agreement should be specified in the document. This should include information about when the agreement begins and ends, and any renewal options that are available. Additionally, the notice period required for terminating or renewing a tenancy agreement should be stated in the contract.

Security Deposit

California landlords must follow certain laws regarding security deposits. These laws include limits on how much a landlord can charge for a security deposit and when it must be returned to the tenant after the tenancy agreement has ended.

These rules should be included in the tenancy agreement.

Repair and Maintenance Responsibilities

The tenancy agreement should outline the responsibilities of both the landlord and tenant for maintaining and repairing the rental property. This includes information on who is responsible for paying for repairs, who is responsible for performing maintenance, and any other rules related to the upkeep of the property.

Restrictions on Use

The tenancy agreement should include any restrictions on how the rental property can be used. This may include restrictions on pets, smoking, or any other activities that are prohibited on the premises.


The tenancy agreement should also include information on whether subletting is allowed on the premises. If subletting is allowed, the contract should outline any rules or restrictions that apply to subletters. This article has provided an overview of California's landlord-tenant laws, including information about types of tenancy, tenancy agreements, security deposits, rent control, termination, eviction, landlord responsibilities, tenant responsibilities, rights and remedies, and resources.

Landlords and tenants should be familiar with these rules to ensure that their tenancy is legal and fair.