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    Tenant and Landlord Rights & Responsibilities in California
    Posted: 2012-11-06 05:00:59

    There isn’t any one formal process inCaliforniato solve disputes between tenants and landlords. Landlords and tenants can try to resolve them on their own or hire experts such as lawyers and mediators to help them find solutions. Therefore, it is beneficial for landlords and tenants to know their legal rights and responsibilities, so that, when there are disputes, they will be able to settle them more easily and avoid going through expensive dispute resolution processes.

    First, what is a tenant? A tenant is the person renting a place and the one who lives in a rented house or apartment. A landlord, on the other hand, is the person giving his/her place for rent. Landlord and tenants usually sign a rent contract (or agreement) that specifies what each party has to do in terms of paying the rent on time and keeping the apartment/house in a good shape.

    Whether or not the contract specifies, the law in Californiagives certain rights and responsibilities to tenants and landlords. Regardless of whether you are a tenant or a landlord, knowing your rights and legal duties helps protect against disputes. California’s Department of Consumer Affairs has plenty of information to help tenants and landlords make wise decisions. For more information, visit the Department’s website.

    Tenant’s Rights and Responsibilities

    • When someone wants to rent a place to live, he/she has the right not to be discriminated. The landlord cannot disqualify someone from becoming a tenant based on racial, religious, gender and other discriminatory grounds.

    • Once you have rented a place and are living there, the tenant is responsible for keeping the place in good care. Otherwise, if the tenant (or his/her children, pets, etc) damages the property, he/she is responsible for repairing the damage. If the tenant makes the property uninhabitable, he/she cannot complain that the landlord does not want to fix the damage. In such cases, the landlord is not obliged to make repairs.

    • The tenant has the right to receive his/her deposit. The deposit can never be “non-refundable”.

    • If the tenant has lawfully exercised a right, the tenant is protected in case the landlord decides to retaliate. For example, if the tenant complains to a building inspector about the condition of an apartment, the landlord cannot use this instance as reason for evicting the tenant.

    Landlord’s Rights and Responsibilities

    • Section 1941 of the California Civil Code holds that landlords are obliged to keep the rental property in a habitable condition. This means that the property has to have adequate weather protection, plumbing facilities, heating, working electrical system, clean and sanitary building, safe emergency exists, and smoke detectors in working condition.

    • The landlord has the right to use tenant’s security deposit to cover unpaid rent, repair damage caused by the tenant and bring the apartment to the condition it was when the tenant first moved in, and, if the rent contract allows, cover the cost of replacing certain property items. But the landlord can only use a reasonable amount of the deposit.

    • Within 21 days after the tenant moves onto the property, the landlord has to refund the security deposit (less any charges against it). If the landlord has used the security deposit to pay for certain items, he/she has to provide a statement of all the items charged, the reason for paying for them, and the receipts showing the charges.

    When can a landlord evict a tenant?

    A landlord can end monthly rent and evict a person out of the apartment by giving advance notice in writing.

    • If the tenant has lived in the apartment for more than 1 year, the landlord has to give a notice at least 60 days before the rent ends.

    • If the tenant has lived in the apartment for less than 1 year, the landlord has to give a notice at last 30 days before the rent ends.

    • If the landlord wants to sell the apartment to another person, the 30 day notice may also apply.

    Sometimes a landlord can notify a tenant only 3 days in advance before evicting him/her. It can happen only in some circumstances. For example,

    • Tenant fails to pay rent on time

    • Tenant seriously damaged the apartment or the house, or

    • Tenant used drugs, assaulted another tenant or used weapons illegally.

    Although these details are only a snapshot of what legal rights and responsibilities landlords and tenants have, they will definitely help in resolving whatever issues you have when renting a place.


    Disclaimer: Content on this website is provided for informational purposes only and does not constitute a legal advice.