California Renters Rights
California renters rights are set to ensure that all tenants have a safe place to live. An example of California renters rights is rent control laws that set a state-wide cap on how much a landlord can increase the rent. The aim is to stop price gouging and ensure tenants are treated fairly while renting property. Read on to learn more about California renters rights laws.
California Renters Rights: Application and Tenant Screening Process
A Californian landlord may charge an application fee. However, it cannot exceed the cost of screening the tenant or the time it takes to research the tenant’s history. Currently, California renters rights cap the application fee at $52, but this amount is reviewed each year to consider inflation. If the landlord charges an application fee, then they must provide the tenant with an itemized receipt.
California renters rights differ in each city and county as to whether a landlord can run a criminal background check. In some jurisdictions, a landlord cannot even ask if the tenant has a criminal history.
No matter what the California renters rights say about checking criminal histories, the landlord must have a policy that is consistent and does not violate the law. If a landlord only asks people of color about their criminal history, then they are guilty of discrimination and violating California renters rights. This can result in a civil lawsuit and fine.
California Renters Rights: The Security Deposit
Maximum Security Deposit
California renters rights cap the amount a landlord can request for a security deposit at two months’ worth of rent for unfurnished properties and three months’ worth of rent for furnished properties. . Additional charges for pets cannot take it over this amount, but additional charges for a waterbed can take the security deposit over this amount.
If the tenant is an active service member then the California renters rights caps are reduced by one month.
Interest For Late Security Deposit
Landlords do not have to pay interest if they fail to repay the security deposit on time according to California renters rights. However, some city or county laws may impose interest.
As per California renters rights, the landlord cannot charge non-refundable fees as part of the security deposit. This means that all pet fees and cleaning fees must not exceed the security deposit cap amount and that they all must be refundable. The landlord can only charge their tenants for cleaning or repairs needed after the tenant moves out. California renters rights do not allow landlords to bake non-refundable fees into the security deposit. If a landlord charges additional rent for pets, this is not a violation of California renters rights.
Deadline For Repayment
The landlord must repay the security deposit minus deductions within 21 calendar days of the tenant vacating the property. California renters rights require the landlord to provide the tenant with an itemized statement of any deductions so they can check their validity.
California Renters Rights: Rent Payments
These California renters rights create a standard process for the collection of rent and set out what a landlord is and is not allowed to do.
Increasing the Rent
California is a rent control state in order to protect California renters rights. Therefore the landlord can increase the rent, but they must follow state and local laws regarding rent increases. These laws may restrict how much rent can be raised and when the landlord can increase the rent.
Landlords do not have to provide tenants with a grace period if they do not want to. If a landlord does intend to provide a grace period, then they should specify in the rental agreement. California renters rights say that the landlord cannot consider the rent payment as late until after the grace period.
If rent is due on a specific date with no grace period, then the landlord can count rent as late if it was not paid on that day.
Late Fees For Rent
Landlords may charge tenants a fee for late rent payments without violating California renters rights. The late fee can only be equal to a reasonable estimate of what it costs the landlord to have late rent payments. For example, the landlord could set the late payment fee as an estimation of the costs of collections.
Evicting Tenants For Late Rent
California renters rights protect tenants against unlawful evictions. The landlord must follow a strict process for evictions for any reason. First, they must give the tenant a three day notice ordering them to either pay rent or leave the property. The three day notice is three working days’ notice and cannot include weekends or public holidays. Only after this notice can the landlord start eviction proceedings.
Missed rent payments are grounds for evictions according to California renters rights. It is considered a lease violation.
Bounced Rent Checks
A landlord may charge a tenant if their rent check bounces. However, California renters rights cap the amount at $25 for the initial bounce check and $35 for any other checks that bounce.
Rent Payments in Cash
California renters rights allow tenants to pay rent in any reasonable way that is convenient to them. If the tenant pays their rent by check and their check bounces, then the landlord can ask them to pay by cash for a clearly defined period of time. The landlord cannot ask the tenant to pay rent by cash for more than three months and as per California renters rights requirements, the landlord must provide proof that the rent check bounced.
California Renters Rights: Landlord Access
It is a violation of California renters rights for a landlord to access an occupied rental property without giving notice. California renters rights require a landlord to give at least 24 hours’ notice in writing before they enter the property or send repair services to the property. The notice requirement for an end of tenancy inspection is 48 hours’ written notice. There is an exception for emergencies.
California Renters Rights: Withholding Rent
One of the foundational California renters rights is the right to a habitable home. If the landlord fails to provide this, then California renters rights allow tenants to remedy the issue through:
- Withholding rent
- A civil lawsuit
- Notifying health inspections
- Repairing the issue and deducting the costs
- Vacate the property without notice
The tenant can only withhold rent if the issue causes a health and safety issue or renders the property inhabitable. California renters rights also do not apply to issues that were caused by the tenant or their guest. If that were the case, then it is the renter’s responsibility to fix the issue.
Repair and Deduct
Another California renters right is the right to repair and deduct if the landlord fails to remedy an issue. As with above, the issue must not have been caused by the tenant or their guests.
In order to exercise this California renters right, the tenant must fix the problem themselves or hire a handyperson. They must send an invoice or itemized receipt along with their explanation that they are repairing and deducting. The cost of the repair must not exceed one month’s rent.
California renters rights limit the use of the repair and deduct to twice within a 12 month period. Check local rules to see if there are additional limitations on the repair and deduct right.
California Renters Rights: Eviction
Eviction restrictions make up the bulk of California renters rights to ensure a balance is achieved between the interests of the landlord and the tenant. The focus of these California renters rights is to ensure the tenant has sufficient time to secure alternative accommodation.
If the tenant violates the lease by subletting the apartment, getting an unauthorized pet, or otherwise breaking any lawful provisions of the rental agreement, the landlord can take the following steps:
- Send a three-day written notice to the tenant to fix the issue or move out
- File an eviction lawsuit if the tenant does not take either of the above actions
California renters rights require the landlord to give the tenant three working days to fix the issue before they start the eviction process. The process is the same if the tenant fails to pay rent.
Unconditional Quit Notice
In certain conditions, the landlord can send the tenants a three-day written notice for an unconditional quit. California renters rights and local laws are strict about the conditions when a landlord can send this type of notice. This does not allow the tenant to remedy the issue, it simply notifies them that the landlord wants them out. Common circumstances for this type of quit notice is the tenant conducting illegal activity in the property or unauthorized subletting.