A Guide to California Renters Rights  

A Guide to California Renters Rights

As each state has varying laws and rights for tenants, California has their own renters rights laid out in law for you.

In California a landlord has their limits on what they can charge for a security deposit: up to two months rent for an unfurnished apartment, and up to three months for a furnished apartment. Before you move out of your apartment your landlord must give you at least two weeks notice before they inspect your apartment. This is to give you enough time to make repairs and clean to reduce any deductions from your security deposit (for example if you are a smoker and there are smoke stains on the walls that need cleaning - I discuss more here about smoking and California Renters Right).

Leave the apartment in the same state you received it in to get your security deposit back. It would be wise to take pictures of the apartment before you move in, and after you are ready for the inspection. You should mail your keys via certified mail to your landlord when you leave so you have proof of the time you left. Your landlord has 21 days to return your deposit.

Some landlords refuse to repair things in your apartment because it will cost them money. You have the right to get certain things repaired. If it affects living there you have the right to demand a repair. Low water pressure and a defective outlet are a couple of things that need to be repaired. If the landlord refuses to repair something you have a few options: move out, call a building inspector, repair it yourself and deduct the cost from your rent, and suing the landlord. You have the right to live in a decent apartment.

Sometimes you need to move out before your lease is up, but your landlord puts up a fight to keep you paying rent even after you move out. You have the right to leave early. Before you leave early read over your lease carefully to be sure that you didn’t sign something that makes you pay for leaving early. If so, you signed it and are liable to pay whatever is stated in the agreement. If you have a monthly agreement with your landlord you should give them a thirty-day notice of your moving out. With a yearly fixed lease you will have a much harder time leaving without penalty. You can wait until the lease is up, or move out if the apartment is inhabitable.

Your landlord cannot simply walk into your apartment without warning unless it is an emergency. An emergency would be a fire or broken pipe, for example. If your landlord needs to inspect the apartment, repair, show, etc. Proper notice is at least 24 hours in advance. The landlord can enter when you are not home.

In California, late fees are illegal, unless you and your landlord have signed an agreement wherein it states that you will be charged a late fee when you pay your rent pate.

As a tenant you have many rights, especially the right to live in a decent apartment and to not be scammed out of money. Know your rights; chances are your landlord doesn’t even know them.


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