TENANT’S BILL OF RIGHTS:
Right #1: Repairs and Housing Conditions:
- You have the right to request and receive repairs from your landlord for the following conditions:
- Weatherproofing and weather protection of your roof, walls, windows, and doors. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.1(a)(1)).
- Plumbing or gas facilities not working properly [i.e. leaking, flooding, dripping, lack of water or gas supply, etc.] (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.1(a)(2)).
- Lack of either hot and/or cold running water. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.1(a)(3)).
- Electrical lighting and electrical equipment not working. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.1(a)(5)).
- Infestations of rodents and vermin. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.1(a)(5)).
- Unclean, unsanitary building and grounds, including accumulations of debris, filth, trash. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.1(a)(6)).
- Not enough garbage receptacles, or garbage cans not in clean condition. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.1(a)(7)).
- Deteriorated floors, stairways, and railings. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.1(a)(8)).
- Lack of, or improper, toilet, bathtub, or shower. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(1)).
- Inadequate heating. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(6)).
- Lack of, or improper kitchen sink. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(3)).
- Improper ventilation. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(7)).
- Dampness of rooms. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(11)).
- Infestation of insects, vermin, or rodents. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(12)).
- Visible mold growth. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(13)).
- General deterioration or improper maintenance. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(14)).
- No connection to a sewage disposal system. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(a)(15)).
- Structural hazards, including deteriorated foundations, flooring, walls, ceilings, roofs and roof supports, fireplaces or chimneys. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(b)).
- Electrical wiring not in good and safe working condition. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 17920.3(d)).
Right #2: Conditions Not Created by Tenant:
- However, you only have the right to receive repairs for these conditions if they were NOT caused by you. If you are responsible for the presence of these conditions, your landlord is not responsible for making repairs. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941.2).
Right #3: Repair and Deduct:
- If you have provided your landlord or their agent with written or oral notice of any of the above outlined conditions, the condition makes your home unlivable, the condition was not caused by you, and your landlords have not made repairs within 30 days of that notice, you may make the repair yourself and deduct the expenses of the repair from the rent, or hire someone to make the repair, and deduct the expenses of the repair from the rent. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1942).
- However, the cost of the repair CANNOT cost more than one month’s rent. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1942(a)).
- Also, this right cannot be exercised more than twice in one year. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1942(a)).
Right #4: Right to Cancel Lease Agreement/Contract:
- If you have provided your landlord or their agent with written or oral notice of any of the above outlined conditions that poses a serious risk to your health and safety, and they have not made repairs within 30 days of that notice, you may “vacate the premises,” meaning you can withhold the rent, and are discharged from further payment of rent, until the repairs are made. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1942) (Green v. Superior Court (1974) 10 Cal.3d 616).
- If the condition poses a serious risk to your health and safety, you did not cause the problem, you provided notice and gave 30 days for the repairs to be made, then you are legally permitted to withhold the rent and vacate the property, meaning your obligations to the contract will be deemed forfeited and canceled. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1942) (Green v. Superior Court (1974) 10 Cal.3d 616).
Right #5: Landlord Entry With Proper Notice:
- If your landlord wants to make repairs, they must give you a 24-hour notice. If they do not give you a notice, you can tell them they cannot enter! ( Civ. Code § 1954(d)(1)).
- This notice must contain the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. ( Civ. Code § 1954(d)(1)).
- The notice can be mailed to you, but it must be mailed at least 6 days prior to the intended entry. ( Civ. Code § 1954(d)(1)).
- If your landlord abuses this right, you might have a cause of action against said person or entity.
Right #6: Landlord’s Right of Entry is Limited:
- Your landlord can only enter during “normal business hours” (i.e. 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.). Alternatively, if you want, you can give them permission to enter during hours other than normal business hours. ( Civ. Code § 1954(b)).
Right #7: Landlord’s Actions Deemed Harassment:
- If your landlord wants to enter your unit, and you feel the purpose is to harass you, you can deny them the right to enter. ( Civ. Code § 1954(c)).
- If you feel your landlord is abusing their right to enter, such as entering repeatedly without making repairs, or entering repeatedly to force you to be home and present in a burdensome manner, you can deny them the right to enter. ( Civ. Code § 1954(c)).
Right #8: Maximum Security Deposit:
- The landlord can only collect two months’ rent for unfurnished units and three months’ rent for furnished units as a security deposit. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5 and 1940.5g). You have a right to obtain your security deposit, or an itemized statement within 21-days of move-out. Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.5g.
Right #9: Right to Enter During Emergency:
- If there is an emergency in your Property, your landlord can enter the Property without asking for your permission. ( Civ. Code § 1954(e)(1)).
Right #10: Raising the Rent:
- Under the California Tenant Protection Act of 2019, if your landlord wants to raise the rent, they cannot raise your rent more than 5% + the local CPI (inflation rate), or 10%, whichever is lower, annually. ( Civ. Code § 1947.12(a)).
- This means that everywhere in California, no matter where you live, your rent cannot go up more than 5% plus inflation, per year.
- If your landlord tries to raise your rent, and you feel it may be in violation of the California Civil Code section 1947.12(a), check-in with a lawyer about the rent raise.
- Some local cities and counties may have more strict laws about rent control, but California Civil Code section 1947.12(a) limits rent increases to these standards everywhere in California. There are a few exceptions to this law, so please consult with a lawyer to see if your new home rental is part of the exception.
Units exempt from both the “just cause” regulations and the rent cap limitations:
- Units that were constructed within the last 15 years (this applies on a rolling basis – i.e.. a unit constructed on January 1, 2006 is not covered as of January, 1 2020, but is covered on and after January 1, 2021).
- Units restricted by a deed, regulatory restrictions, or other recorded document limiting the affordability to low or moderate-income households.
- Certain dormitories.
- A two-unit property, provided the second unit was occupied by an owner of the property for the entire period of the tenancy.
- Single-family homes and condominiums are only exempt if both (A)and (B) apply:
(A) the property is not owned by one of the following:
(i) a real estate trust, or
(ii) a corporation, or
(iii) an LLC with at least one corporate member.
(B) The landlord notified the tenant in writing that the tenancy is not subject to the “just cause” and rent increase limitations as specifically described in Civil Code Sections 1946.2(e)(8)(B)(i) and 1947.12(d)(5)(B)(i).
The limited exemption for single-family homes does not apply where there is more than one dwelling unit on the same lot, or any second residential unit in the building that cannot be sold separately from the subject unit (such as an in-law unit).
Right #11: New Leases/Lease Changes—Right to Obtain Copy:
- When you sign a rental agreement, your landlord must provide you with a copy of your rental agreement or lease within 15 days of its execution. ( Civ. Code § 1962(4)).
- Then, once each calendar year after, you can request a copy of your lease, and your landlord must provide you with a copy within 15 days of the request. ( Civ. Code § 1962(4)).
Right #12: Right to Sign a New Lease Agreement—Only if Materially Same:
- If you are a full lease tenant, and if you get a new landlord who tries to make you sign a new lease, or your current landlord tries to provide you with a new lease agreement, you do not have to sign either if the terms are materially different. Once you have signed your original lease, both you and your landlord are legally bound to your original agreed upon lease. However, similarly situated and material lease agreement should not be unreasonably withheld on signatures, as the law provides this cause for eviction.
- Your landlord cannot apply new rules without your consensual signing of a new lease.
- However, if you and your landlord both agree to changing some clause of your lease agreement, you can alter your lease at any time, together. Neither of you can make the change alone.
- When your lease ends and it is time to renew, your landlord may offer your renewal under different terms, so read your renewal lease carefully. ( Civ. Code § 1946).
Right #13: Changes During Month-to-Month Agreements:
- If you are a month-to-month tenant: Your landlord may make changes to your rental agreement without your consent, but your landlord must provide you with 30 days’ notice. ( Civ. Code § 827(a)).
- Your landlord will likely cross out the old language and add the new, and initial and date the changes. Or, they may add an addendum page.
- Local ordinances sometimes can require more notice, but the standard rule in California for changes to a month-to-month lease is 30 days.
Right #14: Month-to-Month Conversion as a Matter of Law:
- If your lease expires, your landlord has not asked you to renew your lease or to sign a different lease, and your landlord is continuing to accept rent from you, under California law you are automatically convert to a month-to-month tenant. ( Civ. Code § 1945).
Right #15: Retaliatory Eviction in Relation to Housing Complaints:
- If your landlord serves you an eviction notice, and you are not in default of the rent, and you have made a complaint about a condition or repair in your apartment within 180 days of the eviction notice, this could be an illegal, retaliatory eviction. ( Civ. Code § 1942.5(a)).
Right #16: “Just Cause” Evictions:
- If your landlord serves you an eviction notice, your landlord must have a “just cause” reason to evict you IF you have continuously and lawfully occupied the unit for 12 months. ( Civ. Code § 1946.2(a)).
- At-Fault “Just Cause” reasons include: ( Civ. Code § 1946.2(b)(1)).
- Default in rent payment;
- Breach of a material term of your lease;
- Nuisance or unlawful or criminal use of the property;
- Tenant assigning or subletting in the property in violation of the lease/rental agreement;
- The tenant refuses to allow the owner legal access;
- The tenant refuses to sign an extension/renewal at the expiration of the lease.
- No-Fault “Just Cause” reasons include: ( Civ. Code § 1946.2(b)(2)).
- The owner is withdrawing the property from the rental market;
- The owner intends to demolish or substantially remodel the property. Cosmetic improvements alone do not qualify;
- The owner, or the owner’s family members intends to occupy the unit PROVIDED the tenant has previously agreed to allow such a termination or if a provision of the lease permits it.
- NOTE **: In No-Fault “Just Cause” Evictions, your landlord MUST pay you a one-month’s rent relocation fee, or waive rent for the final month of tenancy. ( Civ. Code § 1946.2(d)(1)).
Right #17: 30 Days’ Notice for Short-term Tenancy:
- If you have occupied your unit for less than 12 months, your landlord must provide you with a 30-day notice to vacate if they want to evict you. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1946).
Right #18: 60 Days’ Notice Required for Long-term Tenancy:
- If you have occupied your unit for more than 12 months, your landlord must provide you with a 60-day notice if they want to evict you. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1(b)).
Right #19: Landlord Retaliation is Illegal:
- Your landlord cannot retaliate against you in any way if you complain about habitability issues, infestations, etc. within 180 days of such complaints. ( Civ. Code § 1942.5(a)). Retaliation can take many forms, and can include:
- Reporting, or threatening to disclose your immigration status to immigration authorities. ( Civ. Code § 1942.5(c)).
- Increasing rent, decreasing services, attempting to cause you to move-out of the unit, bringing legal action to recover possession of the unit, or threatening to do any of these. ( Civ. Code § 1942.5(d)).
Right #20: Tenant Union Organization:
- Your landlord cannot retaliate against you in any way if you organize in a tenant’s organization, or with any organization advocating for tenant’s rights ( Civ. Code § 1942.5(d)).
Right #21: Notices Required to be Given to Tenants:
- Landlords are obligated to provide tenants with notice if the premises is being treated for pests, and such disclosure must include the pesticides used and their active ingredients, and any warnings associated to them. Civ. Code § 1940.8; Cal. Business and Professions Code § 8538.
Right #22: Mandatory Disclosures Required to be Given by Landlords:
- Landlords who know (or have reason to know) that mold in the rental exceeds permissible exposure limits or poses a health threat, must provide prospective and current tenants with a written disclosure of the same.Landlords must make the disclosure to prospective tenants before they enter into the lease or rental agreement. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 26147.) Landlords must also distribute to prospective tenants (before they enter into the lease or rental agreement) a consumer handbook, developed by the State Department of Health Services, describing the potential health risks from mold. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 26148.)
In leases or rental agreements signed after July 1, 2018, landlord must disclose, in at least eight-point type, that the property is in a special flood hazard area or an area of potential flooding if the landlord has actual knowledge of this fact. Actual knowledge includes receipt from a public agency so identifying the property; the fact that the owner carries flood insurance; or that the property is in an area in which the owner’s mortgage holder requires the owner to carry flood insurance. Disclosure must advise tenant that additional information can be found at the Office of Emergency Services’ website, and must include the Internet address for the MYHazards tool maintained by the Office. Disclosure must advise tenant that owner’s insurance will not cover loss to tenant’s property, and must recommend that tenant consider purchasing renter’s insurance that will cover loss due to fire, flood, or other risk of loss. Disclosure must note that the owner is not required to provide additional information. (Cal. Gov’t. Code § 8589.45.)
Before signing a lease or rental agreement, landlords must give potential tenants information about bed bugs, including information about their behavior and biology, the importance of cooperation for prevention and treatment, and the importance of prompt written reporting of suspected infestations to the landlord. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1954.603.)
This information is not to be construed as legal advice, but as a tool to help inform you of some of the rights that Californians have. Feel free to call to set up a free consultation for questions about these rights: (310) 801-1919.
Jacob O. Partiyeli, Esq.
Attorney At Law
You Deserve The Best
A true Angelino, Jacob was born and raised in the city of Los Angeles. He attended Beverly Hills High School and was accepted to UCLA where he received his undergraduate degree in history. Upon graduation from UCLA, Jacob went on to earn his law degree from Abraham Lincoln University School of Law.