In California, a rental agreement can either be oral or written. Once a tenancy has been established, California law (CA Civil Code 1940-1954.05) grants both parties certain rights and responsibilities

As a landlord, it’s important that you familiarize yourself with your rights and responsibilities, as well as those of your tenant for a smooth experience.

The following is a basic overview of what you should know regarding California landlord-tenant law.

Required Disclosures of a Landlord in California

California renters have a legal right to know certain things about a unit before they can sign the lease or rental agreement. As a landlord, you must let a tenant know the following mandatory disclosures.

  • Information regarding the presence of lead based paint. This is required of landlords leasing out homes built before 1978.
  • Information regarding the presence of bed bugs. You must use a specific language as outlined in Civ. Code §§ 1954.603.
  • Information regarding any known mold.
  • Disclosure how you are going to apply utility fees and how they are going to be shared between the various tenants.
  • Disclosure of asbestos knowledge. This applies to landlords renting out buildings built prior to 1979.
  • Disclosure about any death that has occurred in the unit within the past three years.

a person showing a house to someone else

  • Disclosure of whether the rental units are located within one mile of a known location with explosive risk.
  • Disclosure of the landlord’s plan to carry out a demolition that may impact the tenancy.
  • Disclosure of the tenant’s right to have access to the sex offender registry.
  • Disclosure about the application of a pesticide on the unit.
  • Disclosure on whether the rental unit is located in a known flood zone.
  • Disclosure on whether there is a smoking policy that a tenant must abide by.

California Tenant Rights

The following are some of the rights that tenants in California have:

  • Live in peace with quiet enjoyment.
  • Live in habitable rental dwelling that meets each health and safety code.
  • Be provided with proper notice prior to terminating a periodic agreement.
  • Continue remaining in the rental properties until the landlord has followed the proper eviction process.
  • Receive their security deposit, with the allotted deductions, within 21 days of vacating the unit.
  • Break the lease legally and without penalty for certain legally justified reasons.
  • Be given notice prior to rent increases.
  • Be treated fairly and equally as per the California Fair Housing laws.
  • Be provided with 24-hour advance notice prior to a landlord entry.

California Tenant Responsibilities

California tenants must abide by the following responsibilities:

  • Not disturb the peace of other tenants.
  • Make small repairs and maintenance.

someone holding a spray bottle and rag

  • Use the premises for its intended purposes.
  • Keep fixtures clean and in sanitary conditions.
  • Keep the rental unit clean and habitable.

California Landlord Rights

Some of the rights landlords have in California include the following:

  • Require a security deposit from a tenant as part of the move-in costs.
  • Require all tenants to sign a lease agreement prior to moving in.
  • Evict a tenant for violating any term of the lease agreement.
  • Terminate a tenant’s lease on a periodic lease agreement with proper notice.
  • Raise rent as long as it abides by rent control rules and state law.
  • Enter a tenant’s unit to carry out important responsibilities, such as to inspect the unit or respond to an emergency.

California Landlord Responsibilities

Landlord’s in California have the following responsibilities:

  • Provide tenants with mandatory disclosures and include them in the lease.
  • Provide tenants with a written notice of at least 24 hours prior to entering their rented premises.
  • Abide by the California anti discrimination laws.
  • Abide by the California security deposit laws.
  • Provide tenants with proper notice prior to terminating their periodic tenancy.
  • Follow the state’s eviction process when evicting a tenant for a lease violation.

An Overview of the Landlord-Tenant Laws in California

Here's an overview of the state's landlord-tenant laws:

Tenant Privacy

California tenants have a right to privacy. A landlord cannot just barge in unannounced; they must notify the tenant first.

an adult and two children sitting in the living room

As a landlord, you must provide the tenant with 24-hour advance notice prior to accessing their rented unit. The only exception here is if you’re responding to an emergency that is threatening the tenant’s health or safety.

Maintenance and Repairs

As a landlord, you have a duty of providing your tenant with a habitable rental property. Among other things, the dwelling must have the following:

  • Proper dwelling structures
  • Functioning windows and doors
  • Running cold and hot water
  • A working HVAC system
  • Proper plumbing and sanitation facilities

Additionally, you must respond to repair requests within 30 days (or sooner for emergency situations). Failure to do so may grant your tenants certain rights. Such as, the right to not pay rent or repair the issues themselves and make appropriate deductions from future rent payments.

Housing Discrimination Laws

Landlords have the responsibility to treat their tenants fairly and respectfully. The state’s fair housing laws prohibit landlords from discriminating against their tenants based on several protected classes.


The protected classes include the 7 federally protected classes, as well as marital status, immigration status, gender identity, citizenship status, ancestry, source of income, and sexual orientation.

Security Deposits

Landlords have a right to collect a security deposit from their tenant in California, that said, they are bound by certain rules. Some of the rules include the following:

  • Not charging a tenant a security deposit exceeding two months’ rent.
  • Only making deductions for legitimate reasons, such as when damage exceeds normal wear and tear.
  • Returning the security deposit within 21 days after the tenant has left.

Renters’ Rights to Withhold Rent

A California tenant has the right to withhold rent if the landlord does not act on requested repairs. They can also make the repairs themselves and deduct the costs from future rent payments.


The information presented in this article is what you need to know to become familiar with California landlord-tenant laws. If you still have a question or need expert help in managing your residential property, Graf Property Management can help. We’re among the top management companies in Carlsbad, California. Get in touch to learn more!

Disclaimer: This blog isn’t intended to be a substitute for professional legal advice. Laws change and this information may become obsolete at the time you read it. For further help, please get in touch with a qualified attorney or an experienced management company