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California Landlord-Tenant Guidelines & Laws

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Both landlords and tenants in Antelope Valley face important legal questions.

How much can a landlord charge for a security deposit?

Do tenants have the right to withhold rent?

What is the minimum time a landlord can provide notice of entry?

Knowledge is the key to solving common conflicts. Understanding the landlord-tenant laws could help to avoid any misunderstandings in the first place. Tenant-landlord laws in California are known as some of the most comprehensive in the United States. They are put in place to protect both landlords and tenants.

In the following paragraphs, you’ll find an overview of the most common guidelines concerning tenant-landlord relations in California. Note that in addition to state or federal laws, like the Fair Housing Act, your city might have local laws that you’ll need to comply with as well. You may also want to read about California’s squatters’ laws, as they are not as straightforward.

What can tenants do in case of a failure to maintain the rental?

Landlords need to make sure the rental property meets health, safety, and structural standards. Tenants are legally entitled to a rental property that intersects all the criteria. In case of a failure to maintain the property, renters may take a number of steps backed by their California tenant rights. Tenants may:

  • Sue the landlord.
  • Take care of the repairs themselves, thereafter, deducting the expenses from their rent.
  • Contact the health inspectors.
  • Vacate the property without prior notice.
  • Withhold rent.

Withholding rent in California

Rent withholding may occur if the tenant doesn’t pay for rent until the landlord takes care of certain repairs. There are definite prerequisites, though. The necessary repair must be critical. For example, a squeaky door isn’t a habitability problem, but no running water undeniably is.


The fundamental issue doesn’t have to be something the tenant caused. In this case, there’s no justification for rent withholding. It wouldn’t matter if the cause is accidental or deliberate.

In most cases, landlords have 30 days to find solutions for habitability issues. Nonetheless, this comes with notable exceptions.

What are the rules on bounced check fees?

In California, landlords can charge $25 for the first bounced check. For any additional bounced checks, the rate is set to $35.

Can a landlord increase rent on a whim?

No, landlords aren’t allowed to raise the rent in a biased fashion. The discrimination could be based on a number of reasons, including race, gender, or sexual orientation.

Similarly, landlords may not raise the rent in retaliation when the tenant exercised a legal right. For example, a landlord can’t increase the rent after a tenant complained to the local safety authority about a violation on the property.

Maintenance responsibilities for tenants

California is strict when it comes to maintenance and repairs.


However, tenants have their own standards to follow as well. Tenants in Antelope Valley have to:

  • Dispose of the garbage in a sanitary manner
  • Keep the rental property as clean as possible
  • Not to vandalize or remove any part of the structure, unit, equipment, or the overall facilities
  • Properly operate all electrical, gas, and plumbing fixtures

Tenants who take these responsibilities seriously separate themselves from bad tenants who don’t care for the standards they need to follow.

Restrictions on the landlord’s right to access?

Landlords in California are required to provide a notice at least 24 hours before entering the property. The notice of entry for the primary move-out inspection is 48 hours.

Security Deposits

Security deposits are intended to cover any damage that doesn’t fall under normal wear and tear. It’s meant to lessen the financial risks of a tenant leaving early on the lease without paying.

No refundable fees are allowed in California. Under the law, landlords can charge a tenant two months’ worth of rent for an unfurnished residence. If the dwelling is furnished, the sum may be equivalent up to three months’ rent. In addition, the landlords may include an excess of one-half month’s rent if a waterbed is in the abode.


Landlords need to return the security deposit within 21 days after the surrendering of the rental unit. The concession means returning the keys and completely vacating the property. Along with the security deposit, the landlord needs to provide an itemized statement of any deductions, so the tenant knows in advance what is subtracted from their deposit.

Does a state statute exist on security deposit interest?

Currently, there is no state statute on this. Nevertheless, approximately 15 localities have interest-demanding rent control ordinances.

When can a landlord terminate the contract on short-notice?

All states have procedures allowing unconditional termination notice orders. These announcements are given to the tenants by landlords in case of repeated lease violations or damage to the rental property.


In California, tenants have three days to move out before the landlord can file for eviction. The possible reasons include:

  • committing waste or becoming a nuisance;
  • assigning or subletting without prior permission;
  • engaging in illegal activities on the rental property.

The bottom line: landlord-tenant laws in California

California has extensive laws governing the landlord-tenant relationship. While the landlords have many responsibilities, renters have to fulfill their part of the obligations as well.

Depending on your whereabouts, the city you reside in might have additional guidelines along with the statewide decrees.

If you need the assistance of a professional property management company that knows the laws inside-out, contact us today!