California Landlord Tenant Laws

Written by on April 22, 2013

State Flag of CaliforniaThis article summarizes some key California Landlord-Tenant laws applicable to residential rental units.

We’ve used the Official State Statutes and other online sources cited below to research this information and it should be a good starting point in learning about the law.

With that said, our summary is not intended to be exhaustive or a substitute for qualified legal advice. Laws and statutes are always subject to change, and may even vary from county to county or city to city.

You are responsible for performing your own research and complying with all laws applicable to your unique situation.

If you have legal questions or concerns, we recommend consulting with the appropriate government agencies and/or a qualified lawyer in your area. Your local or state bar association may have a referral service that can help you find a lawyer with experience in landlord-tenant law.

This research and information is current as of April 22, 2013

Official Rules and Regulations

Details:

Security Deposit:

  • Security Deposit Maximum: Two months’ rent for unfurnished dwellings; 3 months’ rent if furnished dwellings. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5 and 1940.5g)
  • Security Deposit Interest: No state-wide statute, but 15 (or so) localities have rent control ordinances that require you to pay interest, including Los Angeles. (reference)
  • Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No Statute
  • Pet Deposits and Additional Non-Refundable Fees: Not Allowed (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5m)
  • Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 21 days (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g)
  • Security Deposit can be Withheld: (handbook)
    • For unpaid rent;
    • For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in;
    • For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests; and
    • If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.
  • Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes. Receipts and documentation not needed to accompany the itemized list of repairs if repairs and cleaning cost less than $126. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g 4A)
  • Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
  • Failure to Comply: A bad faith claim or retention by a landlord may subject the landlord to statutory damages of up to twice the amount of the security, in addition to actual damages. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5(l))

Lease, Rent & Fees:

  • Rent is Due: Unless there is a contract to the contrary, and the lease is for less than one year, rent is due at the end of the month. Most leases state that rent is due at the beginning of the month. (Civ. Code §§ 1947) and (Civ. Code §§ 1962)
  • Rent Increase Notice: 30 days if rent increase is less than 10 percent of the lowest amount of rent charged during the last 12 months. 60 days if rent increase is more than 10 percent of the lowest amount of rent charged during the last 12 months. (Civ. Code §§ 827(b)(2-3))
  • Late Fees: Allowed, but they must be “reasonable” and obey rent control laws, and are only enforceable if specified in the lease. (handbook)
  • Prepaid Rent: Landlord is allowed to collect one month’s pre-paid rent (first month’s rent) plus two or three months’ security deposit. (handbook)
  • Returned Check Fees: Equal to the actual bank fee. Or landlord can charge a flat “service” fee which is $25 for the first occurrence, and $35 for each occurrence thereafter. (handbook)
  • Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, because the property is under the “implied warranty of habitability.” (handbook)
  • Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, but not more than the cost of one month’s rent, and tenant cannot use this remedy more than twice in a 12-month period. (Civ. Code §§ 1942)
  • Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 789.3d)
  • Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 1951.2)

Notices and Entry:

  • Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in LeaseNo notice is needed as the lease simply expires. I recommend giving 60 days notice anyway.
  • Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More – If ALL tenants have lived there longer than a year, the landlord is required to give 60 days notice. (handbook)
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: Landlord is required to give 30 days notice. Tenant is required to give 30 days notice. (Civ. Code §§ 1946)
  • Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: Landlord is required to give 30 days notice. Tenant is required to give seven days notice. (handbook)
  • Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: 30 days notice if ALL of the following are true: (Civ. Code §§ 1946.1) (handbook)
    1. The landlord has contracted to sell the rental unit to another person who intends to occupy it for at least a year after the tenancy ends.
    2. The landlord must have opened escrow with a licensed escrow agent or real estate broker, and
    3. The landlord must have given 30-day notice no later than 120 days after opening escrow, and
    4. The landlord must not previously have given you a 30-day or 60-day notice, and
    5. The rental unit must be one that can be sold separately from any other dwelling unit. (For example, a house or a condominium can be sold separately from another dwelling unit.)
  • Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: 48 hours (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5(f))
  • Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: Three days (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(2))
  • Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: Three days to remedy lease violation or landlord can file eviction (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(3)). Landlord can also terminate the lease for subletting without permission or illegal activity on the premise. (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(4))
  • Required Notice before Entry: 24 hours (Civ. Code §§ 1954a)
  • Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): 24 hours (Civ. Code §§ 1954a)
  • Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 1954b)
  • Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No (Civ. Code §§ 1954)
  • Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
  • Lockouts Allowed: No (Civ. Code §§ 789.3b(1))
  • Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (Civ. Code §§ 789.3a)

Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

  • Landlord Must Accept First Qualified Applicant – The 2012 Fair Housing Handbook of California says on page 24, “The landlord should take the time to check out the information and make a selection based on the first qualified applicant(s),” although there is no statute to support this. It’s recommended but not law.
  • Copy of Lease: Provide a copy of the rental agreement or lease to the tenant within 15 days of its execution by the tenant. (Civ. Code §§ 1962(4))
  • Utilities: Landlord must disclose if utilities that service tenant’s unit also service other areas (such as common foyers), and disclose the manner in which costs will be fairly divided up. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.9) Landlord must also provide a formula for dividing up utilities when utilities are split among multiple tenants.
  • San Francisco Utilities: Landlords must provide heat that can maintain a room temperature of 68 degrees. This level of heat must be provided for at least 13 hours, specifically from 5-11 AM and 3-10 PM.
  • Move-In Condition: Landlord is not required to provide a Move-In Condition Checklist for the Tenants to complete. However, it is recommended and extremely helpful should you ever go to court over physical damages to the dwelling.
  • Mold: Landlord must disclose, prior to lease signing, knowledge of any mold in the dwelling that exceeds safety limits or poses a health concern.  Landlord must distribute a State Department of Health Services consumer handbook. (Health & Safety Code §§ 26147)
  • Demolishment: If a landlord or agent has applied for a permit to demolish a rental unit, the landlord must provide written notice to prospective tenants before accepting any money. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.6)
  • Ordinances: Landlord must disclose the locations of former ordinances in the neighborhood. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.7)
  • Sexual Offenders: Landlords are required to include the following language in the lease:
     “Notice: Pursuant to Section 290.46 of the Penal Code, information about specified registered sex offenders is made available to the public via an Internet Web site maintained by the Department of Justice at www.meganslaw.ca.gov. Depending on an offender’s criminal history, this information will include either the address at which the offender resides or the community of residence and zip code in which he or she resides.” (Civ. Code §§ 2079.10a)
  • Pests Disclosures: At lease signing, Landlord must disclose any pests control contracts or disclosures received by pest control companies.  If the premise is being treated for pests, landlord must disclose the pesticides used and their active ingredients, and any warnings associated with them.  (Civ. Code §§ 1940.8, and Business and Professional Code §§ 8538)
  • Smoking: If the landlord limits or prohibits smoking, landlord must include a clause that specifies the areas on or in the premise where smoking is prohibited. (Civ. Code §§ 1947.5)
  • Proof of Domestic Violence Status: Landlord is entitled to proof/documentation of domestic violence status of the tenant if the tenant claims they are a victim. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.5, 1941.6, 1941.7)
  • Locks: Landlords must change the locks if requested by a domestic violence victim and proof of court order is given. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.5 and 1941.6)
  • Special Treatment: A victim may terminate a lease with 30 days notice and proof of victim status. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.7) A landlord cannot end or refuse to renew a tenancy based upon the fact that tenant or a member of tenant’s household is a victim of a documented act of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161.3)
  • Abandoned Property: The rules are lengthy and specific, please read Civ. Code §§ 1965, 1980 to 1991.
  • Retaliation: Landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, been involved in a tenant’s organization, or exercised a legal right. Courts will assume “retaliation” by landlord if negative action is taken on the tenant within 180 days (six months) after any of the prior tenant actions. (Civ. Code §§ 1942.5) It will also be considered retaliation if the landlord acts negatively within six months after any of the following:
    • Using the repair and deduct remedy, or telling the landlord that the tenant will use the repair and deduct remedy.
    • Complaining about the condition of the rental unit to the landlord, or to an appropriate public agency after giving the landlord notice.
    • Filing a lawsuit or beginning arbitration based on the condition of the rental unit.
    • Causing an appropriate public agency to inspect the rental unit or to issue a citation to the landlord.

Court Related:

Business Licenses:

  • Business License required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

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698 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Carrie

    To the security deposits rule: “Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes. Receipts and documentation not needed to accompany the itemized list of repairs if repairs and cleaning cost less than $125. ” I believe it’s actually $126 (http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/sec-deposit.shtml)

  • Bogdan tanasa

    Hello
    I live in Chicago and planning to relocate to San Diego, in about 6-8 months. I will sell my property, a condo, and I want to prepay the rental lease for 12-15 months in San Diego. At the time of moving, I will probably have no job. My question is if my plan is possible, or it is a case by case situation and I’ll have to find a landlord that accepts that ?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Bogdan

      Congrats on your decision to move to San Diego!

      According to the CA handbook: A Landlord is only allowed to collect one month’s pre-paid rent (first month’s rent) plus two or three months’ security deposit.

      I’m sure you could find a landlord who would accept it, even though they are not allowed, but I highly advice you against it. The reason is that you simply don’t know what the situation will be like in 6 months. What if the place becomes infested with roaches, or there is a flood that renders it inhabitable. I’m not a lawyer but I always recommend putting the money aside in your own separate bank account, and not giving that much cash to a landlord all at once.

      Handbook: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/catenant.pdf

  • alicia

    If you have a family member living with you at your residence but not following through with the rental agreement and you give them a 30 day notice can you have them removed from the property after the 30 days or do you have to go to the courts and file a legal eviction? I need this family member out he is selling my property! We served him on the 25 th of last month. Thanks

    • Mary Rimachi

      Your post is confusing. You say the family member is selling your property and you say he has a agreement with you. What are the Terms&Conditions of this Agreement and who is the legal owner of the property?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Alicia,

      It’s nice to meet you.

      If the family member has a rental agreement with you, and he’s not an owner of the property, then you should treat him like any other tenant who is violating their lease.
      1. Terminate their lease with proper notice
      2. File an eviction lawsuit if he doesn’t vacate.

      If he doesn’t have any ownership in the property, then he can’t sell it.

      If the situation is more complicated than that, I suggest talking to a locally licensed attorney. I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

  • ledah quintanilla

    My landlord is refinancing the house we are currently renting. She said that if she gets a lower appraisal than she will make us pay the difference by raising our rent. 1) Can she do that? 2) If we’re in a year lease, can she raise our rent in the middle of this time period? 3) If she can do this, do we have the right to break our year lease and give a 30 day notice to vacate without repercussion?

    • Mary Rimachi

      Good ?. If you are in a rent controlled city there is fixed limit (%) of the amount of additional rent you can be charges under any circumstances. What is you zip code? AS to can the LL pass her costs/loss of on you this would be dictated by the any provision in lease if one exists. If they raise your rent absent this condition then the LL is on violation of the lease.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ledah,

      Apart from being in rent controlled situation, here is my opinion:

      Q1: She wouldn’t be able to raise your rent, regardless of her appraisal, unless the lease allows her to do so.

      Q2: If you have a fixed-term lease, with a fixed price for the entire term of the lease, she can’t just raise the rent in the middle of the lease. That would defeat the purposed of signing a fixed-term lease. The lease would specifically have to give her the right to raise the rent.

      Q3: You can’t break the lease just because she asks for more money. Since she can’t force you to pay more (assuming the lease doesn’t give her special rights), so what cause would you have to break the lease? By abandoning the lease, you would be one violated it, not her.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help.

    • Lynda

      In Cali, and hopefully elsewhere, your 1 year lease can not be modified unless you have violated any term of the lease. It’s good for 1 year. No increase in rent can occur.

  • PeterP

    Hello all,
    I am tenant in Riverside,Ca and I have 1 year lease. One of the conditions of the annex to the contract states that any other person living in the house more than me and my wife would required plus $100. We had a child and landlord wrote us requesting the plus on the rent. Does that clause meet the law? When I saw it before signing the contract I thought it would apply to a new person ( a friend for instance) that would move to live with us….never thought that it could apply to a growing family.
    Thank you in advance for your input.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Peter,

      I don’t know if that clause is within the limits of the law, but I do know that I have never heard of a statute prohibiting it. To me (I’m not a lawyer), it just seems like a normal conditional provision in a lease…if you want to add a person to the lease, you must pay and extra XXX.

      A lease is simply an agreement for XX people to rent a place at XX price for XX months. If that changes, then other terms can change as well.

      When we had our daughter, I was so angry when hotels (every hotel) charged us for the extra person, even though she would sleep in a travel crib in the corner of the room. But, those was their rules, take’um or leave’um.

  • Tom

    Our tenants have moved out but opted not to allow a pre -move-out inspection a right to which we informed them when terminating tenancy. When we collected their keys, we found that the hardware on some of the doors was changed and no longer matches the rest of the house, window screens were broken, a range which previously worked was taken out of the kitchen and left on the back porch in a non-working condition, a glass shower door that was recently replaced with new is now unhinged, etc. The tenants had lived in this property for 10 years. Is repair or replacement of any of these items warranted to deduct from their security deposit? How do I prorate the cost of a new range? Tenants told me that they were using their own range instead.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tom

      I’m sorry that your tenants treated your property with such disrespect.

      If I were in your shoes, I would charge them for everything to restore the unit to its condition when they moved in. Missing knobs, broken shower doors, and damaged screens are NOT normal wear and tear.

      The damage to oven was due to negligence. Even if they wanted to use their own stove, they still had a responsibilty to protect your appliance. Because they didn’t actually use it, it should be in the condition it was when they moved in. If the oven was not new when they moved in, I would prorate the cost as such:
      Let’s say it was 3 years old when they moved in, with a 10 year life expectancy. Because they didn’t use it at all, it should still have 7 years of life left. However, because of their negligence, it needs to be replaced. If they were my tenants, I would charge them 7/10ths of the cost of a new stove. Obviously, fill in your own numbers to make the equations work for your situation.

      I hope that helps. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

  • Michael Green

    Hi. I just moved out of a house I rented for 3 1/2 years in northern California. The landlord is trying to nickel and dime me on a number of issues (he made deductions for several things, like a burned out light bulb, that weren’t noted on the initial move out inspection) but the big issue is that I slightly damaged the garage door – a minor shallow dent about 2 inches long. The door is 20 years old and the manufacturer is out of business. The landlord deducted from my security deposit the full amount for a brand new door, plus installation and painting. I offered to pay a third of the cost (I found a house appraiser’s site that said the typical life expectancy of a garage door was 25-30 years). But he refuses to refund any additional deposit. I’m told that the usual method of valuation of minor damage is the diminution in value of the damaged property, or the cost to repair, whichever is less. Two separate door suppliers said that dents can’t be repaired successfully. Since the damage is cosmetic only (you can’t even see the dent from a couple of feet away) and the door functions perfectly, the diminution in value to a 20 year old door is not much. Is the landlord right that he can claim a brand new door?
    All thoughts gratefully received. Thanks.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Michael,

      Thanks for your questions. I’m happy to give my opinion as a landlord. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer.

      I agree with you. Though the ding is not considered normal wear and tear, the diminution of value is minimal compared to the age of the door. I think your offer to pay for 1/3 of the door is fair. If you felt generous because of the ding, 1/2 of the cost would be more than sufficient.

      Because the ding can’t be repaired, the landlord has a right to replace it. However, he’s already used up 2/3rds of the expected lifespan, so you would only be responsible for reimbursing him for the remaining 1/3 of life that was still left on the door.

      If the landlord refuses to refund at least 1/2 of the cost to you, I suggest filing a small claims court case against him. Talking to a lawyer would be wise too. Again, I’m not a lawyer, but I think most judges would agree with your calculations.

      Further, according to Civ. Code §§ 1950.5(l), a bad faith claim or retention by a landlord may subject the landlord to statutory damages of up to twice the amount of the security, in addition to actual damages. You might be able to use this statute to provide incentive for the landlord to give you back some money – and avoid court altogether.

  • Cassie Gaytan

    I moved from a rental in July, I forgot to clean one windowsill and the outside windows, everything else was clean. The landlord is now trying to charge me $600 for a cleaning service. The law states that the charges must usual and customary, does this seem usual?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Cassie,

      This does not seem usual. I’ve never heard of a tenant being forced to clean the outside of the windows, because outside dust and debris is usually considered normal wear and tear. Did he expect you to paint the outside of the house too!

      According to Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g 4A, a landlord must provide an itemized list of damages, and receipts to go along with them. $600 for the cleaning of one window sill seems ridiculous. I suspect that there were other issues. If the landlord can’t validate the expense, he can’t charge it to you. If he does, you should talk to a lawyer, and take the landlord to small claims.

      Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer and this is not legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help.

  • Mary

    My tenant (A) broke his lease a month early and said he’d be out Aug 31. The new tenant (B) took possession on Sept. 1. Tenant A didn’t remove his motorcycle from the garage until Aug 1 and didn’t return the garage remotes and the second key until Sept 2. His roommate brought the other key back on the afternoon of Sept 1. Additionally A left a lot of stuff in the home that I had to clean and get rid of including a container of gasoline. The house was in like new condition when A moved in, fresh paint, new carpet, and freshly cleaned. A left a large stain in a bedroom carpet that could only be removed 70% by the professional carpet cleaner.
    My questions are as follows:
    1. Can I charge for rekeying the locks because A was late returning them even if I didn’t rekey until the morning of the 3rd. B was willing to take them without rekeying until A was 2 days late getting them to us. The lease allowed $50. For each day the keys were late. If I can’t charge to rekey would this be considered 1 day late or 2?
    2. I spent approx 2 hours cleaning up A’s junk but didn’t have to take it to the dump as there was a recycling/cleanup day on the week he moved out. How much is reasonable to charge for my hourly cleaning time in the SF Bay Area?
    3. The large spot that wasn’t able to be totally removed-how would I charge for that?
    4. I didn’t know about the pre move out inspection. The only thing that would have come up on an inspection would have been the carpet and I never saw the stain as there was a blow up bed over it. Will not having a pre-move inspection be a problem?

    Thanks for helping…this was my first year as a landlord so actually it didn’t go too badly!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mary,

      Congrats on finishing your first year as a landlord! It gets easier as time goes on, I PROMISE!

      I hope my opinions help you, but please don’t take them as legal advice. I’m not a lawyer.

      1. Technically, you probably can charge them for rekeying, but since you waited until the 3rd, and after they returned the keys, you didn’t really have a reason to do it anymore (at their expense). If you had done it on the 1st, then it would be an open and shut case. They didn’t return the keys on time, so you changed the locks. I don’t know what your lease says, but if a tenant fails to turn in the keys after their lease is over, the landlord typically can change the locks at the tenant’s expense – assuming your city/state doesn’t require a lock change anyway. However, because you waited too long, and received the keys back, there’s a chance the judge might claim that you really didn’t have any damages and there was no need to change the locks, if you were going to do it anyway.

      2. In my opinion, you shouldn’t charge for your own time unless you are a trade professional. If cleaning is your profession, then you can charge your normal rate. If you wanted to charge the tenant for a cleaning, you should hire cleaners and get a receipt.

      3. Re: the large spot. You’d have to try and figure out how much of the carpet’s expected life has been removed because of the stain. If the stain damaged the carpet beyond repair, and you are not going to replace that section, then you can deduct the loss of life. If the carpet is expected to last 5 years under normal wear and tear, but after the 1 year tenancy, you only think it will last another 3 years, then the tenant robbed you of 1 year of life. You can charge the tenant 1/5 of the price of the carpet. I think this is the most fair way to calculate it. Alternatively, you can just hire a secondary cleaning company – one with better tools – at the tenant’s expense. You should listen to episode 10 of Ask Lucas: http://www.landlordology.com/ask-lucas/010-carpet-damage/

      4. Not doing a pre-move out inspection will only hurt you if the tenant wants to make a big deal about it. There has to be something that they tenant could claim “I would have fixed it sooner if my landlord had warned me about it”. Perhaps they might have cleaned better if you had warned them, but of the things you mentioned, that’s the only thing I think they might argue. But if you don’t charge them a cleaning fee, then they can’t really argue it.

      I hope that helps! Be sure to itemize any deductions with receipts, and send them copy to review before sending any money back to them. Please note that you only have 21 days to process the move-out and send any money back.

  • Betty G

    My tenants (couple) have been model tenants and have a lease for 6 months (expired August) always paid the rent one week early, before the 1st of every month, they have decided to pay month-to-month until December before moving up north. They have asked me if they can have an exchange student (17 years old/Canadian) with permission from his parents – who will be starting college in 3 weeks. When I do an addendum to the rental agreement for an additional tenant/roommate, I am doing a background on the parents and do I charge an extra rental fee for 3 weeks? Also, what other information can I add to the addendum regarding the end of his stay? Thank you (I am new to the renting business).

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Betty

      Honestly, I wouldn’t do any sort of check on the student because he is a minor. Plus, if his parents are not citizens, there’s not much you could do to them. Plus, I don’t think you’d find much info in your check anyway.

      If the hosts (your tenants) want to take him into their home, they are taking responsibility for his actions, especially since he is a minor.

      Yes, you have an option to increase the rent when you create the addendum, especially if you are paying for utilities, but my approach as always been to reward good tenants with no rent increases and be flexible. A quality long term tenant is hard to find.

      If I were in your shoes, and it didn’t hurt me financially, or cause overcrowding in my rental, I would simply allow the minor to be added to the lease in the form of an addendum. If he causes any damage, the original tenants would be held responsible. The addendum should state how long he is allowed to be there and it should specifically list the student by name.

      Be sure to document his existence and photocopy his ID/passport.

      Good luck!

  • Jeffrey

    Hi there, I recently signed a 1 year lease on an apartment in Los Angeles only to find out while moving in a few days later that it was located 600ft from a hospital helicopter landing pad. Which is incredibly noisy. Do I have any grounds to terminate the lease without penalty because the owner did not disclose this info before I signed the lease?

    thanks,

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Jeffrey,

      Wow! That’s crazy!

      To be honest, I have no idea. My guess would be that you do not have any grounds to terminate the lease because of this.

      Usually, it’s up to the tenant to investigate the neighborhood (and surrounding businesses) before choosing a place to live. I suspect that because it’s a hospital, the city has already approved the helicopter services, and subsequent noise issues. Though it’s a nuisance, it’s a government-approved nuisance.

      Typically, it’s not up to the landlord to disclose things that are public knowledge – like the location of a hospital.

      But like I said, I’m just guessing here. A local attorney might be able to help you better than I. Sorry I wasn’t more help! Good Luck man!

  • Meridia

    Hello, I’m in a bit of a weird situation and would some advice on the matter! Long story short, I feel like my rights may have breeched and am not happy with my rental experience and feel as though the landlord/acting agent have pulled a fast one over on me so I would feel much more comfortable exiting the lease if I have grounds to do so.
    I only bring up because it seems as though there are a number of things the landlord did not satisfy prior to me moving in.
    1) I signed a lease in the end of July and immeadiately asked for a signed copy of the lease. I was told that my signed copy of the lease wouldn’t be given to me until I moved in on but even then I didn’t recieve it until 8 days after I moved in. Still I have since discovered that landlords are required to provide a signed copy of the lease within 15 days of execution. My signing of the lease is considered execution wouldn’t it?
    2) At the signing (and according to the language of the lease, the lease started on the 3rd of September and gives a date that it ends about a year out. My landlord/acting agent declined multiple requests on my end for a full walk-through and cleaning prior to my moving in claiming that I am not a new tenant and only a renewal tenant because my current roommate (who signed the same starting lease I did) was one of the former roommates as well. which brings me to point number
    3) Soon after moving in I discovered that the previous tenant (who no longer is on an active lease) left behind fleas. I notified the landlord at once and at first the landlord/agent told me I had to foot the bill. I did some research and refuted the responsibility and today an exterminator came (thankfully).
    This all has happened within the first 2 weeks of moving in and I already don’t feel comfortable staying there.
    While digging into my rights reguarding the habitable/flea issue I discovered that by California law, a landlord or acting agent has to be a licensed real estate broker in order to lawfully act out rental agreements. I have asked and the person who acts as the building manager and presided over the lease signing is not a licensed real estate broker. It looks like this law exists for good reason so that situations like this don’t happen. Also they won’t give me the agents full name (no name or signature is on the lease) or title other than building manager.
    This situation started out messy and has since turned into a nightmare!
    Does anyone have any advice for how I might fare attempting to ask the landlord/agent to allow me out of the lease based on these things? I’ve only been in the unit for 2 weeks and I’m afraid for what the rest of the year could bring :(
    Any help would be greatly appreciated, thanks everyone!

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Meridia

      Thanks for your comment. I wish you the best. As you probably know, I can’t give legal advice. You’ll need a lawyer for that.

      But I can give you my opinion as a landlord.

      1. You are correct that in CA, the landlord must give you a copy of the lease within 15 days of signing it. However, I don’t know if that would give you grounds to terminate it.

      2. Yes, but I imagine the penalty would be a fine to the PM. I doubt a judge would let you terminate your lease for this either.

      3. If you did come in as a replacement tenant under the same lease, then the property was never formally given back to the landlord. Therefore, it’s not technically a move-in/move-out opportunity for the landlord to clean and make repairs. Because you are probably under the same lease as the former tenant, bound by joint and several liability, you can be held responsible for the previous tenant’s issues. It’s unfair, but just part of the deal when you sign with other people.

      Apart from issues of habitability, domestic violence, and active duty status, it’s very difficult for a tenant to terminate a lease. Further, you typically have to give the landlord an official notice to remedy or quit. If he/she fixes the problems, then you are not allowed to terminate the lease.

      As much as I want to help you, I think it’s probably best you talk to a lawyer, and try to get help with this lease termination. Good luck! Please do let me know how it goes. Like I said before, I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. I’m just a landlord trying to help :)

  • Rosie Salinas

    Dear Lucas,

    I really love your site, been following it for a while. I have situation here. My one year rental lease agreement is over. The landlord is saying that he will be raising my rent. He stated that by me paying the rent increase I am agreeing to another one year lease. (He’s increasing my rent) When I was paying the rent I was also paying a fee of $12.00 for rent control. My questions to you is, can he raise my rent when even though my one year lease is over? He stated that once my lease was over that he can raise my rent because the agreement is no longer valid with the rent control. Thank you for your help. It would be greatly appreciated.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Rosie,

      A landlord can raise the rent anytime a lease term is over. For fixed-term leases, this opportunity would only come at the end of the lease. For monthly leases, this opportunity happens every month.

      You’d have to check your old lease to see what is says about renewal. If it doesn’t automatically renew, and you haven’t signed another lease, then *I think* the only thing you are doing by paying the rent increase is agreeing to a month-to-month lease. Further, I’m not really sure if rent-control is tied to a lease, or a property. You might want to get help from a lawyer to figure this one out – that which I am not.

  • Caroline D'Arcy

    A relative of mine received an itemized list of charges relating to her security deposit. The landlord is charging her for 2 hotel stays while visiting the property in question. He is from another county about 1-1/2 hrs away. Is this a reasonable charge for the tenant to pay the landlord’s hotel stay?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Caroline

      I’ve only heard of this happening once before and it was because the landlord had to fly back to the country from England after the tenants burnt the house down.

      I suppose it could be a reasonable expense if it was the tenant’s fault that the landlord had to come visit, but only in cases where the landlord lived very far away (more than a 1-1/2 hour drive).

      I’m not a lawyer so please don’t take this as legal advice. Apart from some extreme negligence on the tenant’a behalf, I suspect a judge would favor the tenant in this situation. I suggest talking to a local attorney about filing a small claims case if the landlord doesn’t want to give the money back.

  • Natali Willhoite

    I was on a lease for a 2 bedroom apartment with a guy. I got a restraining order against him for domestic violence and was able to terminate my lease early. However its been over 2 months and they refuse to send my security deposit to me. we paid almost $2000 for our security deposit, in which we split the payment. They want to wait until the lease is up and then they are going to send him a check for the whole deposit with both our names on it. However I wont be able to get my money because he cant contact me when he gets the check, and even worse it would be a dangerous situation for me to be around him. I asked them to split the deposit and send two separate checks but they refuse. What can I do? I live in California.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Natali,

      I understand why a landlord would not want to give back any portion of the deposit yet – because the lease is not over and there is still a tenant living there. They are just upholding the lease. They still need the full deposit to cover potential damages.

      To be honest, I agree with your landlords. Since there was a dispute between you and the other tenant, they don’t want to put themselves in the middle of the two of you. If they split the deposit down the middle, they are judging who should get what – which they shouldn’t do. In reality, you and the other tenant are considered one entity, so the check should be made out to both of you – unless one of you gives written permission to sign the whole check over to the other.

      If the landlords send one check with two names, you will just have to work it out. Neither person can cash it without the other’s signature, but you don’t have to see him in person. You could have the guy sign the check and mail it to you – then you could cash it and send him his portion. Or, you could always bring a few witnesses to go with you, so that you can deposit the check together with the guy.

      Anyway, I hope that helps. I realize it’s not the advice you were looking for. Keep in mind, I’m not a lawyer, and this is not legal advice. Good luck, and stay safe. No deposit is worth putting yourself in danger.

  • Ana

    Is there any existing clause that stipulate the number of people allowed in a 1 bedroom and a 2 bedroom?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Ana,

      You should absolutely check with your local county/city housing or code enforcement office. Each locality has different rules on zoning and occupancy.

      In my experience, the general guidelines that many property managers follow is there can only be 2 people per bedroom. But like I said, that’s just a generalization, and your county may be different.

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