Many people find it difficult to buy a house in California, so 45% of residents choose to rent instead. This means that almost half of the population in California lives in rented homes. If you are one of these renters, it’s important to know your tenant rights in California.

What You Aren’t Responsible For As a Tenant in California

Tenants in California face numerous challenges, including sudden evictions and unexpected expenses for property repairs. Fortunately, California law generally provides protection for tenants who are not at fault. If you find yourself in a situation where your tenant rights have been violated, or you are being asked to perform tasks that are not your responsibility, consider hiring a tenant lawyer. In the meantime, here are some tasks that you, as a tenant in California, are not responsible for.

1. Property Repairs

As we go through life, wear and tear are inevitable, and when you reside in a rented property, property repairs are likely to come up. In California, the most common property repair issues are related to drainage and sewage. A leaky pipe or a flooded toilet can put a strain on your living conditions. Often, renters are unaware of their rights and end up paying for repairs unknowingly. However, unless specifically agreed to in a written lease agreement, according to California law, tenants are not responsible for property repairs. Before and during the rental period, landlords in California have specific obligations to fulfill.  We list some below:

  • Keeping a rental unit safe and liveable
  • Fixing water leaks within the rental unit
  • Repairing gas, plumbing, heating, and other issues
  • Supplying enough trash bins
  • Keeping the outdoor rental areas clean and free from rodents and pests.

If your landlord fails to fulfill their responsibilities, you have the right to work with a landlord-tenant attorney to file a lawsuit and, in some cases, may even be able to withhold rent payments.

2. Move Out Without an Eviction Notice

It is important to prioritize paying your rent on time to avoid potential consequences, such as an unlawful detainer lawsuit filed by your landlord if you fail to pay rent for consecutive months. In California, landlords can issue an eviction for unpaid or late rent payments. However, you are not required to move out without receiving a formal written eviction notice.

Your landlord is obligated to provide you with formal written notice in advance and provide a copy of the eviction documents filed in court. If your landlord fails to provide these documents, they cannot win an eviction lawsuit, and you are not obligated to vacate the property. To handle such situations, it is advisable to seek the assistance of a skilled tenant lawyer who can represent you in court.

3. Allowing Your Landlord To Enter Your Property

As a tenant in California, it’s important to know your rights when it comes to your landlord’s access to your rented property. It’s a common misconception that landlords have the right to come and go as they please, but this is actually a violation of your tenant rights. Once you’ve rented the unit, you have possession and control over the property, which means you have the right to prevent your landlord from entering without your permission.

In order for a landlord to visit their property, they must provide advanced notice of 24 hours unless you agree to shorter notice in a written lease agreement. However, in the event of an emergency, such as a gas leak or pipe burst, the landlord reserves the right to enter the property without prior notification.

4. Background Checks

In many counties and countries in California, landlords can conduct background checks on their potential tenants. This is a reasonable practice to ensure that they are renting their property to someone who doesn’t have a criminal record. However, landlords must obtain the tenant’s permission before conducting a background check.

As a tenant in California, you are not required to consent to a background check. If you withhold permission, your landlord cannot deny you the right to rent the property. If you believe you were discriminated against due to your background check, you should speak with a landlord-tenant attorney who can help you file a complaint with the appropriate agency.

5. Pay for Utilities That Were Not Part of Your Lease

Before signing a lease agreement, it is important to read the agreement carefully and understand the terms of your lease. Your lease should clearly state which utilities you are responsible for paying for, such as electricity, gas, and water.

If your lease does not mention certain utilities, you are not obligated to pay for them. However, it is important to keep a record of your utility bills and lease agreement in case you need to dispute any charges in the future.

6. Accept Unreasonable Rent Increases

In California, landlords are required to provide written notice of any rent increase at least 30 days before the increase goes into effect for month-to-month tenants and 60 days for tenants with a lease of one year or more. Depending on the type of rental you live in and the type of landlord who you rent from, such rent increases may be limited and, in some cases, illegal.

If you are presented with an unlawful rent increase, you have the right to dispute it and seek the advice of a landlord-tenant attorney. Your attorney can review your lease agreement and advise you on the best course of action to take.

7. Sign a Waiver of Your Rights

As a tenant in California, you have certain rights guaranteed under the law. Your landlord cannot ask you to waive those rights, nor can they require you to sign a document that waives those rights. If you are asked to sign a waiver, it is important to consult with a landlord-tenant attorney before doing so. Your attorney can review the document and advise you on whether or not it is in your best interest to sign it.

As a tenant in California, you have many rights that are protected by law. While your landlord does have certain obligations that they must fulfill, you also have certain responsibilities as a tenant. By understanding your rights and responsibilities, you can better protect yourself and your interests. If you are facing a landlord-tenant dispute or have questions about your rights as a tenant in California, it is important to consult with an experienced landlord-tenant attorney. They can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that your rights are protected.

What protection do I have as a tenant?

The California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, also known as Assembly Bill 1482, is a significant piece of legislation that provides additional protections for tenants in the state. This act was signed into law on October 8, 2019, and took effect on January 1, 2020. It aims to address the growing issue of housing affordability and the increasing number of evictions in California. We will discuss some of the key provisions of the Tenant Protection Act and how it benefits tenants in California.

1. Rent Control

One of the major provisions of the Tenant Protection Act is the implementation of statewide rent control measures. Under this act, landlords are prohibited from raising the rent by more than 5% plus the local rate of inflation, or 10% (whichever is lower), in any 12-month period. This provision helps to prevent excessive rent increases and provides tenants with more stability in their housing costs.

2. Just Cause Eviction Protections

Another important aspect of the Tenant Protection Act is the establishment of just cause eviction protections. Certain landlords are now required to provide a valid reason for evicting a tenant, such as failure to pay rent or violation of a lease agreement. This provision helps to prevent arbitrary evictions and provides tenants with more security in their tenancy.

When Do My Rights As a Tenant in California Begin?

As a tenant in California, your rights become effective upon payment for a rental unit. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act guarantee your first right as a tenant: equal housing opportunity. These laws prohibit landlords from discriminating against you based on your nationality, color, state of origin, religion, sex, disability, or family status. In the unfortunate event that your landlord is biased or discriminates against you, you can seek legal recourse by hiring a tenant lawyer.

Conclusion: Protect Your Rights As A Tenant

As a tenant living in California, it’s essential to know your rights when it comes to renting a property. Unfortunately, there are times when landlords may try to take advantage of their tenants, leaving them in difficult legal situations. That’s where Attorney Brian Davalos comes in. With his extensive experience in tenant law, he can provide best legal advice and representation to help you navigate through any tenant-related issues you may be facing. 

Whether you’re dealing with a landlord who’s trying to evict you unfairly, a lease dispute, or a case of landlord negligence, Attorney Brian Davalos has the skills and knowledge to help you resolve the matter. He will work closely with you to understand your specific situation and develop a tailored legal strategy that is focused on protecting your rights and interests. With his help, you can have peace of mind knowing that your case is in good hands.