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A Guide to California Tenant Laws for Property Owners

A Guide to California Tenant Laws for Property Owners

The California Bay Area sure is a great place to live and own a rental property. But the last couple of years have been challenging for tenants and landlords alike. The Public Policy Institute of California suggests that around 1.5 million Californian renters are behind on their rent payments.

If you're about to start renting out a property in California, you need to have a good understanding of California tenant laws. They protect the interests of landlords and tenants and ensure that you both know where you stand when things go wrong.

Let's take a quick look at some of the key points every landlord needs to be aware of.

Rent Control Laws

In 2019, California implemented statewide rent and eviction control legislation. This is called the Tenant Protection Act of 2019. Rent may not be increased by more than:

  • 5% plus inflation OR
  • 10% of the lowest rent charged during the previous 12 months

The lowest figure of the two must be chosen.

Application Fees

When CA tenants apply for a property, the landlord incurs certain expenses. These may include:

  • Tenant screening
  • Credit checks
  • Landlord or agent's time

CA tenant laws allow landlords to charge tenants application fees. But as of 2022, these charges may not exceed $55.58.

Criminal Background Checks

Tenant laws in CA allow for criminal background checks, but some counties and cities prohibit this. Even if you are allowed, you need to be careful. Although you may run the checks, you must do so in a non-discriminatory manner.

So if you're planning to go down this route, you'll need to screen every applicant in the same way.

Security Deposits

CA tenant laws allow landlords to charge two months' rent as a security deposit on unfurnished rentals. For furnished rentals, they can charge three months' rent. 

When the lease ends and the tenants move out, the landlord must return the security deposit within 21 days. If the tenant has caused damage beyond regular wear and tear, the landlord can withhold part of the deposit to pay for repairs. You must give your tenants an itemized list of every cost you have deducted when you return the security deposit.

Examples of reasons for deduction include:

  • Pet damage to carpets or walls
  • Filthy bathroom fixtures
  • Large holes/damage to walls caused by tenant's actions

This is just a snapshot of the many regulations in place to protect California tenants and landlords. CA tenant laws also cover rent collection, eviction procedures, and rights of entry to the unit.

Let Blue Line Assist You with California Tenant Laws

It's good to have a trusted friend on your side when starting a new business enterprise. If you choose Blue Line Property Management, you've got a Contra Costa County property expert helping you every step of the way.

At Blue Line, we work with California tenant laws every day. We follow them to the letter, ensuring that both landlords and tenants fulfill their legal obligations. We also handle California property marketing, helping you get the best yield and the right tenants.

If you need management services, call us today at (925) 291-9400 or reach out online.