In October 2022, California Attorney General Rob Bonta gave tenant rights a shot in the arm by releasing a consumer alert. Its purpose? To help California's 17 million tenants understand their rights and seek help if those rights are being violated.
The sheer number of renters in California - the highest in the country - means that it's always attractive to investors. But it's vital to know your California tenant rights before you rent out your property.
Let's explore what every landlord should know about applicable tenant laws in California.
The rental process starts with tenant screening, but this can be a legal minefield if you don't do it correctly. The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination on any grounds. So you must apply exactly the same tenant screening procedures to every applicant to avoid discrimination.
Landlords may access tenant screening reports, including credit checks, when making their decision. However, the applicant may request a copy of this report.
Landlords may also charge a maximum fee of $35 per applicant and provide an itemized bill. If the fee is not used, the landlord must return it.
Tenant laws protect residents against unlawful, traumatic evictions. California property owners may not shut off the utilities or lock you out during eviction proceedings. You will not come home to find your things on the curb. Instead, landlords must follow due procedure, which includes:
- Provide a written notice by the deadline in the rental agreement
- Start an eviction case in court
- The tenant has time to file a response
- Judge makes a final decision
- Sheriffs post a Notice to Vacate, and tenant must move out
However, there's one important caveat. COVID-19 brought its own rules, which are still in force to some extent. If tenants are at risk of eviction due to unpaid rent between March 1, 2020, and March 31, 2022, they may be protected from eviction.
Keeping your property in good shape is about way more than protecting your investment. Tenant rights dictate that the home should always be safe and all systems must be in good working order. If you find out there's an issue with the plumbing, electrics, or HVAC, it's your duty to resolve it as quickly as possible.
Other maintenance issues, such as pest control and mold remediation, can have a huge impact on your tenants' physical and mental health. Being proactive is the best way to keep tenants happy and healthy. Plus, you'll fulfill your legal obligations.
If there's an emergency in the property, the landlord can enter without notice to handle it. But otherwise, for inspection or repair purposes, you should provide 24-hours notice.
Protecting California Tenant Rights
A landlord that cares about California tenant rights will have fewer issues in running their properties. You'll probably also find that tenants will stay for longer and be more conscientious. However, keeping on top of all of these issues can be a drag, especially if this is not your full-time job.
Let Blue Line Property Management do the heavy lifting for you. Our comprehensive property management service will keep your rental running smoothly.
Call us at 925-291-9400 or reach out online for more information today.