The California real estate market is one of the most expensive in the U.S. This means both that rental properties are very lucrative investments in the Golden State and many families in California cannot afford to purchase their own home. Whether you are a landlord or a tenant, knowing the laws of California can protect you and ensure a smooth transition into the landlord-tenant relationship.
The landlord-tenant relationship begins with the tenant screening process. California allows the landlord discretion in selecting their tenants. Landlords can consider criminal history, credit rating, and financial stability when processing tenants; however, under the federal Fair Housing Act, they may not screen tenants based on:
- National origin
- Familial status
Rules Governing Security Deposits
After the tenant screening process, the landlord normally requests the security deposit from the prospective tenant. According to California law, security deposits:
- Cannot be non-refundable
- May not be more than two times the monthly rent for an unfurnished unit or three times the rent for a furnished one
- Must be refunded in part or in whole within 21 days of tenant moving out
It is not guaranteed that the tenant will receive the full amount of the security deposit upon the termination of the lease. According to California landlord-tenant law, a landlord may withhold a security deposit for three reasons:
- Tenant owes unpaid rent
- Landlord has suffered damage beyond normal wear and tear
- Property is unclean
A Residential Rental Property Must be Habitable
A landlord must ensure their property is habitable prior to the tenant moving in. Ensuring habitability requires maintaining the rental property in a condition that is fit for the occupation of human beings.
In California, the landlord is responsible for:
- Making any repairs necessary for livability unless the tenant, their family, guests or pets, caused the damage
- Maintaining the building within state and local codes
Once the tenant notifies the landlord of the need for repairs on the property, the landlord usually has up to 30 days to complete them. If the repair affects habitability (ex: heater), repairs may need to be completed in a shorter time frame. Tenants are allowed to withhold rent, move without notice, or sue, if the landlord fails to make adequate repairs. The tenant may also exercise their right to repair and deduct the costs if necessary.
When Can a Landlord File for Eviction in California?
Sometimes, the landlord-tenant relationship must come to an end due to unfortunate circumstances. In California, a landlord may file for eviction when the tenant:
- Fails to pay rent on time
- Breaks the rules of the lease and refuses to right them
- Causes property damage that leads to loss in value (also includes damage by tenant guests)
- Is a repeated nuisance to neighbors or other tenants
- Commits a crime on the property
Protecting Your Rights in the Landlord-Tenant Relationship
Whether you are landlord or tenant, the landlord-tenant relationship provides a mutually beneficial opportunity for pursuing your California dreams. To make sure those dreams don’t turn to nightmares, contact our team of property lawyers at The Myers Law Group to explain your rights; and if your sky turns grey, our knowledgeable and experienced lawyers can help you to resolve your disputes.
With law offices in Newport Beach (Orange County), we serve clients throughout Southern California. Call us today at 949) 825-5590 for a consultation.