Tenant Rights Without a Lease

Tenants who rent in California and don’t have a signed lease or rental agreement are typically called tenants at-will and typically operate on a month-to-month basis. All tenants in California have certain rights which we’ll go over here in detail.

Tenant Rights Without a Lease

At-will Tenant Rights and Protections

Even without a formal lease, tenants at will still enjoy certain legal rights and protections under California law. These rights are designed to ensure fairness and provide a level of security for individuals residing in rental properties.

Notice Requirements

One of the critical protections for tenants at will is the requirement for the landlord to provide written notice before terminating the tenancy. The notice period is typically 30 days, but if the tenant has occupied the unit for more than one year, the landlord is generally required to provide a 60-day notice. This allows tenants sufficient time to make alternative living arrangements.

Quiet Enjoyment

Tenants at will have the right to “quiet enjoyment” of their rental unit. This legal concept means that the landlord cannot interfere with the tenant’s use and enjoyment of the property. Landlords are prohibited from engaging in actions that disrupt the tenant’s peaceful living, and they cannot harass or intimidate the tenant.

Rent Increases

Landlords can increase rent for tenants at will, but they must provide proper notice in accordance with California law. For rent increases of less than 10%, landlords typically need to provide at least 30 days’ notice. For increases of 10% or more, the notice period is typically 60 days.

Tenant Responsibilities

While tenants at will do not have a formal lease agreement, they are still expected to comply with applicable state and local laws, and they have a responsibility to pay rent on time. Failure to do so may lead to eviction proceedings.

Conversion to Fixed-Term Lease

In some cases, landlords and tenants may choose to convert a month-to-month tenancy into a fixed-term lease through a formal agreement. This could offer more stability for both parties.

Understanding the legal framework and rights associated with month-to-month tenancies is crucial for both landlords and tenants to ensure a fair and lawful relationship.