California Tenant Law Frequently Asked Questions

Below are California tenant law frequently asked questions we often receive. Comment below if you have a question regarding California landlord-tenant law.

1. How often can my landlord increase the rent?

Whether a landlord can increase rent depends on whether a tenant has a lease or rental agreement. Lease agreements do not permit rental increases unless specified. Most tenants adhere to periodic rental agreements. The landlord must provide the tenant with at advance written notice of the rent increase pursuant to California Civil Code section 827. The notice must detail the amount of the rent increase and when it will go into effect. For month-to-month tenancies, the landlord must provide a 30-day written notice to the tenant. A landlord must provide a tenant with a 60-day notice if the rent increase is greater than 10% of the lowest rent charged during the previous 12 months.

Some California cities have rent control and landlords must follow specific rules when raising rent. Absent a local rent control regulation, there is no restriction on how much landlords can increase rent.

2. Can my landlord enter my residence without my permission?

California law allows a landlord to enter a rental unit under the following circumstances:

  • In the event of an emergency
  • When the tenant vacates or abandons the rental unit
  • To make agreed upon or necessary repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements
  • To show the rental unit to prospective tenants or workers who are to perform maintenance and repair work before the end of the tenancy
  • By court order
  • To inspect the installation of a waterbed

The landlord must provide the tenant with proper written notice before entering the unit. The notice must state the date, time, and the purpose of the entry. The landlord can only enter the rental unit during normal business hours. Landlords must provide tenants 24-hour advanced written notice before entry 

3. Can my landlord withhold my deposit?

California Civil Code section 1950.5 requires landlords to return a tenant’s security deposit within 21 days of a tenant vacating the unit. The landlord must return the security deposit to the tenant and furnish an itemized invoice showing the amount of the deposit used for repairs and unpaid rent. A tenant can file a lawsuit against a landlord who refuses to return the rental deposit and provide and itemized statement of repairs. Contact San Diego Esquire if you need assistance obtaining your rental deposit from your landlord.

4. How much advance notice must my landlord provide for me to move out?

If you resided in your rental for less than one year, the landlord must provide you with a 30-day written notice to vacate the unit. The landlord must provide 60-day written notice to tenants who have resided in a unit for more than one year.

5. What forms do I need to complete to respond to an unlawful detainer complaint?

You need to complete the following forms to file a California unlawful detainer response:

Each named defendant must file a response. The defendants can file a joint answer. Each named defendant must still pay the filing fee.

6. How can I remove an eviction record on my credit report?

California Code of Civil Procedure section 1161.2 automatically and permanently seals all limited unlawful detainer actions unless that landlord prevails within 60 days of filing or after 60 days a judgment has been entered for the landlord after a trial and the court issues an order allowing public access to the record. Contact each credit reporting agency to request to remove an eviction record from your credit report.

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