Top 10 California Landlord Legal Responsibilities

Landlord-tenant disputes do not always have to end up with grueling lawsuits or court battles. The California Rental Laws explicitly dictate what rights your tenant is entitled to and how the common disputes can be avoided. These disputes regarding upholding the terms of rental or lease agreements are almost always costlier for the landlord than the tenant.

Here are ten ways to run a smooth sailing rental property business knowing your legal responsibilities as a California landlord.

Follow the Laws of Anti-discrimination

The federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination of tenants based on race, religion, national origin, sex, familial status and disability. It is also illegal in California to discriminate a person based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, receipt of public assistance and personal characteristics or traits.

You can legally reject a prospective tenant as a landlord if they have a history of paying rent late, a negative report from a past landlord, a poor credit score or history, or for any other reason you would consider them to be dangerous under the law.

Observe the Rent Rules in the California State Law

The state rental laws have provisions governing how to charge late-fee, what to charge for the bounced checks, how to increase rent and how to evict those tenants who failed to pay the rent. The laws for landlord legal responsibilities are also unique to each city in California.

It is required for you to caption the due date of rent and other rental terms in your California rental agreement or lease.

Observe the Security Deposit Rules in the State Law

California’s laws conclusively govern the terms of security deposits. The contentious issues include the deposit limit and how refunds of security deposits are issued. You can use checklists and itemization for security deposits to justify the refunds.

Ensure the Housing is Habitable

In California, you are legally obliged as a landlord to ensure that a rental property is habitable under the ‘implied warrant of habitability’ regardless of the rent amount paid.

Failure to comply with this could warrant your tenant to withhold the rent in order to ‘repair and deduct’ or worse, could cause injuries to your tenant.

A lease or rental agreement should include the important business aspects, such as rent terms and the period of occupancy. It should also clearly inform the tenant about their responsibilities and rights.

You should not use the rental agreement or lease to free yourself from your legal responsibilities towards your tenant.

Make All the Disclosures Required

California law requires the landlords to disclose to the prospective tenants (in the rental agreement or lease) information like ordnance locations, toxic mold, ongoing pest control, no smoking policy, whether the tenants’ utilities serve other areas and the manner of cost allocation. Failure to do this could incur heavy financial penalties.

Give Your Tenant Privacy

Landlords are required to give a 24-hour notice to the tenants prior to accessing rental property, except during the emergency situations. The landlord cannot gain entry during a tenant’s extended absence. Before showing the rental property to other prospective tenants, you are required to give a 48-hour notice. It is wise to specify your right of entry in the rental agreement or lease within the confines of the law.

In California, it is prohibited to retaliate against a tenant who has exercised a legal right; for example, lodged a complaint with a regulatory agency. Retaliation can be done by eviction, by increasing the rent or by decreasing services to the tenant.

It is important to know your landlord responsibilities and keep a paper trail on how you have interacted with the tenant to counter false retaliation claims.

Observe the Procedure for Ending Tenancy or Eviction

California state laws govern how to terminate tenancy unconditionally or during a violation of lease. Notices must be issued to the tenant accordingly (usually 3 days).

You can obtain resources on rental law from the government and state agencies; for example, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, or the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

It is always wise to consult a landlord-tenant lawyer or attorney in the state of California.


The law in California is very specific on how to manage a rental property, and failure to know and comply with your California landlord responsibilities to your tenants can lead to heavy penalties and expensive court battles.

At Fast Eviction Service, help on any of the issues discussed in this article is simply a click or phone call away. Email or call our office at (800) 686-8686 to discuss your questions for a free evaluation of your case.

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