California Rental Laws

Written by on April 22, 2013

State Flag of CaliforniaThis article summarizes some key California rental 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)
  • Payment Methods: Landlord must allow at least one form of payment that is neither cash nor electronic funds transfer, unless tenant has had an insuffienct funds payment, or stopped payment on a money order. Then the landlord can require payments to be paid in cash. (Civ. Code §§ 1947.3(1-2))
  • 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)
  • Application Fees: The maximum fee is adjusted each year based on changes in the Consumer Price Index since January 1, 1998. In 2012, the maximum allowable fee is $44.51 (Civ. Code §§ 1950.6(b)). Use Cozy to avoid charging application fees because the tenant pays for the credit report directly.
  • 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). I recommend using Cozy to collect rent online to nearly eradicate late payments.
  • 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 a lease, increase rent, decrease services, cause a lessee to quit involuntarily, or bring an action to recover possession 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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1,322 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Gina Zimmerman

    Does anyone know if my landlord can discuss the rent I owe him with someone who is NOT on the lease? My cousin is staying at my rented home while I am out of town and my landlord and his son went to the residence and were asking her about me paying rent and disclosed to her how much I owe. I have already made an arrangement with them last week, so there was no reason for this. What if anything can I do? This is in California

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Gina,

      I agree with you – that you landlord should have kept quite about your lease contract. However, what “damages” are you trying to claim? How would you quantify damages because of your family knowing your business. Besides embarrassment, if you’re behind on rent, it’s going to be a tough sell – and you certainly wouldn’t want to get him in a court room if you are not fulfilling your contract. That’s just my two cents.

  • Curious

    My rental property is currently being subdivided & a temp. fence was erected across 1/2 of the property (my half contains a storage unit) 2 yrs. ago; there is fencing around the perimeter of the property. Tenant’s portion faces the street w/ own gate; my portion faces the alley w/ my access gate. I only go on property to access items every 4-6 months. I have a New Tenant who signed a 1-yr. lease w/addendum that I retain one-half the property to repurpose. They moved in, complained about landscaping on their portion, I offered to provide them a portion of the yard, and then they locked me/Landlord out of their portion AND my portion (alley gate), did not provide keys, and removed the dividing fence between our 2 premises. Tenant then went to Free Legal Aid who said Tenant now had “possession”. The Tenant has broken the terms of the lease, and my lawyer has confirmed it is a valid lease. What is my recourse? Tenant is not responding to request to put fence back up/provide key for locks

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Curious,

      There’s legal possession, and illegal possession. Because your lease is clear, it sounds like your tenant unlawfully took away your right to access it.

      If I were in your shoes, I would either terminate their lease if they don’t remedy for the violation, or tell them that I am going to hire a lawyer to set it straight – and make them pay for it. That might convince them to give you a key asap!

      If you terminate the lease (with proper notice), and they don’t leave, then you are stuck going through the formal eviction process.

      Good luck to you. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • stacy roberts

    Does anyone know how to deal with a dirty tenant? We like the tenant. He’s quiet and pays the rent on time but when we enter his unit to make repair, there is food all over the place, including the living room and bed rooms. He leaves food on the counter that should be refrigerated and he leaves for days on business trips. Dirty dishes are all over the apartment. It is a health hazard and we are concerned about insect and rat infestations. His lease is up for renewal at the end of this month so I we must act quickly. This is in California.

  • Vikki

    Hi Lucas,
    I’ve written to you before about two roommates, causing numerous lease problems. One moved out, the other gave via email, a thirty day notice in the middle of a monthly lease period. I had told him I was leaving town the day before, where he knows I get no internet or email, unless I travel to an unsecured site. So I lost a week of time.

    My understanding was, a 30 day notice has to be on or before the day of the next lease rent due date, not prorated. He showed me the tenant hand book guide where it states he can give notice at any time within a month to month. But the same guide states he can only give it in person, certified mail or service.

    He claims the day before he had no clue he was moving to tell me prior to me leaving, and it is less than 30 days he will be out but gave a prorated 30. I told him I was not served correctly, and need to see codes about timing and read the lease. He is being verbally abusive now wherever I am. What is the law on all, including abuse

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Vikki,

      Great to hear from you again. I’d suggest you read section 1946. It’s very confusing, and I don’t know for sure if notice must be given in reference to the day rent is due, or if it can be “anytime”. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=01001-02000&file=1940-1954.1

      Also, I think you could make a strong argument that the notice was not actually received because he didn’t send it by the appropriate means. Section 1946 says “The notice herein required shall be given in the manner prescribed in Section 1162 of the Code of Civil Procedure or by sending a copy by certified or registered mail addressed to the other party.”. But regardless, if I were in your shoes, I’d start counting 30 days from the day I read the email – just to be fair.

      If I were in this situation, I’d charge him for 30 days of rent after I received it – not when he sent it. I bet you will be glad to get rid of these folks.

      To get a legal opinion on the law, you would really need to talk to a lawyer – that’s what they do :)

      I’m just an experienced landlord, trying to help. If you feel harassed, you could call the police.

      • Vikki

        Hi Lucas,
        This has only escalated. I explained he did not notify me properly, via email, and he blew up. He kept giving excuses, and gave me a new notice in person, but for a much later date, July 16th. I made plans to be out of state to see my very ill Mom for a special occasion, he knows this and refuses to change the move out date earlier. He claims I caused him to lose the first place, when I never refused the date. He could have paid overlap rent for a few days. I’m willing to do any date, other than leave my home with him checking out alone. I tried calling numerous legal aid services, all only help tenants or won’t help housing issues. I’m on disability, low income, but they refuse to help me. I called the police, and they said there is nothing they can do, he can follow me through my home, yelling, it’s not illegal. It has escalated since the first roommate left, there is no witness to his actions. I am afraid of him, and an expensive eviction will never allow me to leave.

  • Brittany

    Hi, I live in a split level duplex. I live on the top and my landlord live on the bottom. We also have split yards. I have the yard directly out back and she has the two side yards. I had a pest control guy come out to check my house and give me a quote because I have been having an issue with spiders and have been seeing them a lot more lately. It’s something I want dealt with and want a spray in the house and in my yard. Nowhere nin her yard would be touched. When I got done with the quote she got very confrontational with the guy being ther. She said I could not have pest control done because it is “toxic” and it’s in the contract that I can’t. I checked in my contract and nowhere in there does it say anything about me not being able to solicit pest control services. I’m just wondering what my rights as a tenant are and how I should go about this so I can get the issue resolved and live comfortably in my home. Thanks for your help.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Brittany,

      As far as I know, this type of thing usually isn’t covered in state statutes. But generally speaking, a tenant is not allowed to “damage” the property. So, to me, it makes sense that as long as you get a pest control company that uses “safe” chemicals, and you pay for it, the landlord really doesn’t have anything to complain about.

      But I guess even if you hired the most-toxic pest control company out there, the landlord wouldn’t have an argument if it’s not in the lease. I think its a stretch to say that pest control would damage the property, or cause harm to the other tenants, especially if they aren’t coming in contact with it. But if they have pets, there might a legitimate concern.

      That’s just my two cents. Please know that I’m not a lawyer.

  • Suzanne E White

    I moved in to my place 2 months ago and I am the only one on the lease, utilities and PO Box associated with this rental. My boyfriend had a key and only stayed over occasionally, he never lived here in excess of 14 days. He resides elsewhere and we have always maintained separate residences because of our history of domestic violence. He has a very extensive record for this and has recently been emotionally abusive and intimidating me after I discovered he was cheating on me. We broke up and he left and he hasnt been here for a week now. I have asked him numerous times to return my key and pick up his personal property but he refuses. He is claiming that he has established residency here and that he has to be evicted. I know that he will only fight me every step of the way. My landlord and building manager are aware of all of this and offered to change the lock. Can I have him cited for criminal trespass and removed by the Sherrif or should I get a restraining order on him?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Suzanne,

      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. You probably could get a restraining order, but I suggest talking to a legal expert to figure out how to do that.

      Because you are the only one on the lease and he never really resided at your place, I don’t think the management company doesn’t have obligation to him. It seems like changing the locks would be a very smart first step. I’d suggest trying to get the manager to take the risk on this one, and trying to get them to change the locks.

      Good luck to you. I hope you find relief. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Anonymous

    My lease ended in end of may. My landlord told me they were selling the house mid may not even 2 weeks notice. We moved in with family Can i take this to small claims. Plus i only got back half my deposit

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi there

      Fixed term leases generally don’t require any notice to terminate on their end date – b/c that’s the whole point of having an end date. If you had an expectation of renewing, you probably should have addressed with the landlord before 2 weeks from the expiration, no?

      I know it really stinks to have to move with only 2 weeks notice, but what “violation” did the landlord have by letting the lease expire when you both agreed to? The end date was stated in the lease the whole time. It shouldn’t have been a surprise.

      The refund of your deposit is a separate issue and if you think that is was wrongfully withheld, you could file a small claims suit and see if a judge agrees with you.

      Good luck to you. Please know that I’m not a lawyer nor is this legal advice.

  • Suzzane

    Can a landlord demand a deposit 5 years after the original lease was signed stating no deposit was required?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Suzzane,

      It really depends on if your lease is still active. If your are not in a fixed-term lease with a set end date, then the landlord can change the terms of the agreement anytime it’s up for renewal.

      So if you have a month-to-month lease, then the landlord could change the terms every month.

      If your lease is up for renewal, and the landlord is now requiring a deposit, then you have to decide if you want to sign under the new terms, or vacate the property. If you want to stay, perhaps you could negotiate a smaller deposit or pay it over multiple months.

      Anyway, that’s my non-legal opinion. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

      • Suzzane

        I agreed upon the deposit, and now after signing a new lease, they have hired a property management company and demanding double the agreed upon deposit. They have also raised the rent after the newly signed lease stated no increase. ( Newly signed lease was signed this month) I thought after a signed lease they could not raise the rent or change the terms of the lease for one year of the signed document.

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi again

          It’s my understanding a fixed-term lease is “fixed” for the term. So, no, they can’t just change the price or deposit without your approval. But you didn’t actually say you signed a fixed term lease. Did you? If you signed a monkey agreement, they can change it every month. Does your lease have a set end date?

  • Crystal

    Please help! Our CA landlord left a letter with new rules and regulations on the 19th telling us we had to sign immediately for ck up the morning of the 22nd. It included many enjoyment rules and a notice to pay a 500 $ deposit for pets and to pay an additional $30 a month. There were many new rule about pets

    The new rules required that we buy renter’s insurance with his name included on it, which seems fishy.

    I m on a yearly lease that just so happens to renew this July. I thought that I had to sign the new R and R’s so I did. However it turned out that many of my fellow tenants refused to sign.

    When I found that out I rescinded my signature the same day. I signed quickly because they only gave us a couple days,and I didn’t have time to research that I could have refused as well. I had no idea they were doing it

    Am I screwed now? What are my rights etc??? Please help. I Cannot afford an additional $500 or $30 dollars a month and have lived here 6 years. Thank you

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Crystal,

      I wish I could help, but I have no idea what your lease says. The situation does sound unfair, but I also don’t know if you can rescind a signature like that. Perhaps a legal aid provider, or a lawyer in your area would the best person to talk to. Good luck to you.

  • Daniel J Martinez

    My manager tells people that try too rent no because they are on probation or have a record but she moved in her son and told him not to tell no one plus he’s on parole

  • Tracy

    Hi,

    If I want to move into my parents condo that they are renting out. How do I break their lease?

    Thanks

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Tracy,

      By yourself, you can’t break their lease if you have no contractual authority over it. It sounds like you are just a third party to the situation.

      However, some options are:
      1. Get your parents to ask the landlord if you can live there instead – and modify the lease
      2. Have your parents to get permission to sublet to you.
      3. Get the landlord to terminate the lease with your parents, and sign a new one with you.

      Good luck!

      • Tracy

        Hi Lucas,

        Sorry I didn’t clarify that my parents are the owners/landlord and are leasing our condo to someone. I would like to somehow break that lease so I can live there instead. Is this possible to do?

        • Lucas Hall

          Hi Tracy,

          Again, you have no authority since you’re not on the lease. But if your parents have a month-to-month lease with the tenant, they could terminate it for any reason with proper notice (see statutes above). If it’s a fixed-term lease, then they can’t terminate it early without just cause – like non-payment or a lease violation.

          Alternatively, perhaps the tenant would leave willingly – maybe he/she wants to move. Has anyone asked the tenant?

          • Tracy

            Hi Lucas,

            Thank you for your quick replies. What if they renewed the contract, but the current one doesn’t expire until August. Is there anyway we can void the new one and honor their current one?

          • Lucas Hall

            Hi Again,

            Not that I know of. A signed contract is a legally binding contract. It doesn’t really matter that the new contract starts in the future, or that they are still in their old lease.

            Now, if the renewal hasn’t been signed yet, your parents could certainly rescind it.

        • Charles

          They signed a contract, you’re trying to void it. What kind of person does that make you?

  • Lorraine

    I lived with my parents when I was 17 I moved out before my 18th birthday they got evicted ,
    They went to court and lost and was ordered to pay but somehow now the lawyer is trying to get the money from me am I legally responsible to pay their Debt?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Lorraine,

      It really depends on if your name was on the lease. If you were under 18 at the time, it’s unlikely that your name was on the lease and that you signed it.

      Sometimes lawyers will do anything to trace down a debt. Don’t trust that guy, and get your own legal advice.

      • Lorraine

        My mom said my name was on it as an occupat. I never signed it i moved in 06 they got evicted in 2011. The lawyer has put this debt on my credit.
        I found out by a letter I just received from the lawyer.
        I guess they listed me on the eviction. And their lawsuit.
        my mother and step father weren’t aware of this.
        they didnt find out until 3 years later.
        t h ey were homeless during the time of the lawsuit.
        I wrote the layers a letter to have me removed from this but I can’t even move now because of this
        any advice
        lorraine

        • Lucas Hall

          It makes sense that all occupants would be listed on the eviction, but unless you are of legal age and you signed the document, then you shouldn’t be responsible for the debt.

          But, collections agencies don’t care. They’ll go after anyone they can.

          You could check with the 3 credit bureaus and argue the charge so it won’t hurt your credit anymore. They will do their own investigation.

  • Mike

    I’ve been renting a place for over a year now when I moved in the house still needed a few things done to it. New floors in the kitchen and bathrooms new water heater and the fence in the back yard needed repairs really bad we have been rigging it since I moved in in order to keep my dog in as of yesterday none of the repairs are done and they sent someone out to tear out the fence and rip out the patio cover my dog has been on a run for a year in order to keep her since they ripped out the patio cover all that’s left is the posts which my dog now wraps herself up on so she can’t move I asked today what we are going to do about this and the reply was you can build a cage area for her the fence didn’t keep her in anyway so they have no intention of replacing the fence I told them they have till the 1st to get something going or I will hire someone to come and build a new fence and deduct from the rent am I in the right or am I wrong here

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Mike,

      Even a old fence is still a fence none-the-less. It provided some separation, and was effective at keeping your dog in the yard. Taking it down without replacing it, is a decrease in service, and it sounds like they are not going to compensate you for it.

      I never recommend withholding or deducting rent unless the issue affects habitability – such as no water, electricity, heat, etc. Otherwise, more often then not, withholding rent will get rewarded with a lease termination letter and then the only thing a tenant can do to stay there is to fight it in court. Withholding rent simply just escalates the problem.

      The only way withholding rent is really effective is if the landlord agrees to it. The best way to get a landlord to agree to it (or do the repair himself), is to have a lawyer send a very firm demand letter. Usually, that is enough to incentivize the landlord into action. At least that’s been my experience.

      I can’t tell you whether you can withhold rent for that. It’s really legal advice you are looking for. But I can tell you that withholding rent rarely ever works out for the tenant.

      Sorry I couldn’t be more help. Best of luck to you. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Alex

    Hello,

    Does anyone have experience removing a lodger? A leased out a bedroom in the home that I owe and occupy, but have major issues with the “tenant”. According to CA law, a lodger does not have the same rights as a tenant. This is pursuant to Civil Code 1946.5.

    Thanks,
    Alex

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Alex,

      Sorry, I don’t have any experience with that. Maybe someone else will chime in.

      • Alex

        Thanks Lucas! Your blog has a great amount of information to protect the landlord, but the more I research my situation, the more I see that my situation doesn’t apply to certain CIV and CCPs – one of them being able to recover from attorney fees.

  • Angela Gowing

    My husband and I moved into a house 6 months ago that we knew was for sale, the property has been on the market about 10 years. We have a month to month lease and we have never met the owner she lives out of state, my husbands boss takes care of the property for the owner. Recently we were notified that there was a possible buyer for the property which is 155 acres and 2 homes. Coincidently we know the person that wants to buy the property. We have never been given a notice to vacate of anykind, we were told since the property was in the process of being sold not to pay our rent. Recently the agent selling the property came to us and offered us money to get out in 10 days and said if we werent out by then that the amount would go down and if we werent out by the next 10 days he would give us nothing. He stated that the new owner wouldnt sign the final papers on a Owner carries sale if we were living here. Now the agent is threatning to try and evict us and still no notice to vacate.

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Angela,

      Generally speaking, the sale of a property has no affect on a rental agreement. Not paying rent is a sure-fire way to get evicted. However, because you only have a month-to-month lease, the current landlord could terminate your lease with only 30 days notice – for no reason at all.

      So, in a MTM lease situation, the most you’ll be able to stay is 30 days once they give you notice. But in your case, it sounds like you have a chance to make some extra money to help with the move. Because you don’t have fixed-term lease, I don’t see any possible way that you can stay there if the landlord wants you to move – but rather, it’s just a matter of time.

      If you hunker down until he files an eviction case and then gets the sheriff to remove you, you could be liable for damages, including the loss of the sale of the property.

      I’m not really sure what to tell you besides that. If you want to fight it, or want to know your legal rights, you really should talk to a lawyer. Month-to-month tenants don’t really have much of a long-term claim on a property.

      I hope that helps. I know you’re probably stressed. Just think through it logically and it will work out. Please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Will McKinnies

    I have lived in my apartment for 5 1/2 years. The apartments in my complex have washers and dryers in the units.

    Recently a new tenant moved into the unit below me, now they are complaining if I do laundry in the morning (the washer/dryers are in a hall closet, not in the bedroom and their unit has the same floor plan as mine). They claim they have talked to the management, who will be sending out a letter stating that laundry cannot be done between 10 PM and 8 AM. This limitation is NOT in my lease.

    Can they do this, is this enforceable? Does they fact that my apt came with the washer and dryer make them part of my tenancy and unless so stated in the lease their use would be unlimited?

    I mean I get not clog dancing in my bedroom between 10 and 8 (no, I don’t clog dance if you were wondering). But isn’t use of installed appliances/amenities, washer, dryer, toilet, shower, etc. included in my lease and NOT limited unless so stated in the lease?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Will

      That’s a tough one. Because they are private laundry units, I might push back on the management company and say “You gave me these units, and you’re the ones on the hook to provide a level of quiet enjoyment to the tenant below – not me. If you want to solve the problem, buy some rubber pads that we can install on the washer, or buy the tenant some ear plugs! – either way, I have a right to use that washer and dryer in a normal fashion at any time”.

      Now, with that said, I really doubt there is any actual law about this, and doing so will likely anger your management company. They might look at you as the “problem child” and rather than trying to fix the problem, they might terminate your lease at the first opportunity. So with that said, you might want to play night, or be prepared to fight hard if they cut you lose.

      That’s just my two cents – please know that I’m not a lawyer, nor is this legal advice.

  • Skye

    Hello I rent a apt in a small 4unit property and my owner sold the property. I paid the previous owner in advance and only have a 100$ balance for the month of July and have receipts.the previous owner promised to move me to a new property months ago, however had no knowledge of him selling the property.no notice until July 1st. I have my original lease however never re-signed a new one because the owner did not have a management company after firing the previous one I originally signed my lease with.the new owner also stated she was given record of my security deposit on file aa 100$but I have the lease clearly stating it was 600$ she says I can stay but they need rent or I can go.. Any advice. I really don’t want or care to sign a lease with the new owners but I also need time to move and so not want an eviction on my record..

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