FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Leases

With a month to month agreement a landlord can terminate your tenancy at any time, if they give the proper written notice.

  • If you have lived there for less than 1 year, 30 day notice
  • If you have lived there for over a year, 60 day notice

With a long-term lease your landlord cannot terminate your residency without good reason, for example damaging the property or failing to pay rent

  • The pros of a lease include a known cost for renting throughout the period of the lease. Leases should list a set cost, or define a limit of how much rent can be raised.

If the tenant breaks the lease without coming to an agreement with the landlord or finding someone to take over the remainder of the lease, then they will likely be liable for paying the rent until the end of the lease.

For more information go to the following link:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/before-rent.shtml

Termination of Tenancy and Evictions

Termination is NOT an Eviction; if you fail to vacate after the termination notice is up, then the landlord can file for eviction at the Superior Court. This is referred to as an unlawful detainer case.

Eviction goes on your record, Termination does not.

3 Day Notices (eviction)- You can receive a 3 day notice for any of the following reasons:

  • Failed to pay the rent.
  • Violated any provision of the lease or rental agreement.
  • Materially damaged the rental property ("committed waste").
  • Used the rental property for an unlawful purpose.
  • Substantially interfered with other tenants ("committed a nuisance").
  • Committed domestic violence or sexual assault against, or stalked another tenant or subtenant on the premises.
  • Engaged in drug dealing, unlawfully used, cultivated, imported, or manufactured illegal drugs.
  • Using the building or property to conduct dogfighting or cockfighting.
  • Unlawful conduct involving weapons or ammunition.

For more information go to the following link:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/terminations.shtml

Having Repairs Made

In order to formally request that repairs be made, the tenant must both call and give a written request to the property manager or landlord.

Aesthetic repairs (for example different paint in the unit) are generally not a required of the landlord, unless they agreed to have the repairs done before you moved in as an incentive.

Repairs that are required to be done by the landlord in a timely fashion include the following:

A dwelling may be considered uninhabitable (unlivable) if it substantially lacks any of the following:

  • Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.
  • Plumbing facilities in good working order, including hot and cold running water, connected to a sewage disposal system.
  • Gas facilities in good working order.
  • Heating facilities in good working order.
  • An electric system, including lighting, wiring, and equipment, in good working order.
  • Clean and sanitary buildings, grounds, and appurtenances (for example, a garden or a detached garage), free from debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.
  • Adequate trash receptacles in good repair.
  • Floors, stairways, and railings in good repair.

In addition to these requirements, each rental unit must have all of the following:

  • A working toilet, wash basin, and bathtub or shower. The toilet and bathtub or shower must be in a room which is ventilated and allows privacy.
  • A kitchen with a sink that cannot be made of an absorbent material such as wood.
  • Natural lighting in every room through windows or skylights. Windows in each room must be able to open at least halfway for ventilation, unless a fan provides mechanical ventilation.
  • Safe fire or emergency exits leading to a street or hallway. Stairs, hallways, and exits must be kept litter-free. Storage areas, garages, and basements must be kept free of combustible materials. (Footnote 140)
  • Operable dead bolt locks on the main entry doors of rental units, and operable locking or security devices on windows. (Footnote 141)
  • Working smoke detectors in all units of multi-unit buildings, such as duplexes and apartment complexes. Apartment complexes also must have smoke detectors in common stairwells. (Footnote 142)
  • A locking mail box for each unit. The mail box must be consistent with the United States Postal Service standards for apartment housing mail boxes. (Footnote 143)
  • Ground fault circuit interrupters for swimming pools and anti-suction protections for wading pools in apartment complexes and other residential settings (but not single family residences)

For more information on repairs that are required, go to the following link:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/problems.shtml

In some circumstances if a unit is uninhabitable then the tenant can withhold a portion of the rent until the repairs are made; the tenant may also deduct the cost from the rent and have an outside company or the tenant themselves do the repairs.

For more information on when and how to use these methods, carefully read the information listed in the following link:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/repairs.shtml

Pests and Vermin

If a rental unit has pests or insects that are not caused by the tenant, then the landlord is required to treat the problem, as they can be a health and safety hazard. For example, if a landlord sprays one unit, many times the vermin will move to the next unless all are treated at once; in this situation the landlord would be required to deal with the problem using professional exterminators.

If the unit is kept in an unsanitary state, or if the vermin/insects followed from a previous residence, then the tenant is responsible for treatment if it is outside of the regularly scheduled pest control treatments.

For more information about when to seek outside enforcement of the landlord’s responsibility to treat, visit the following link:

http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=hsc&group=17001-18000&file=17920-17928

Deposit Disputes

Landlords can keep a tenant’s deposit for the following four reasons:

  • For unpaid rent
  • For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in
  • For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant's guests
  • If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.

Tenants should always make sure to do an initial and exit walk-through with the landlord, to note any preexisting and additional damages.

The landlord is required to provide receipts and an itemized statement of work done to the tenant for any work done within 21 days of their moving out, or they forfeit any right to keep the deposit.

For more information on refunds of security deposits, visit the following link:

http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/sec-deposit.shtml

Reasonable Accomodations

If a tenant requires some kind of reasonable accommodation (such as medical pets, a downstairs unit, or a unit closer to a handicapped parking spot), then they can file a “Reasonable Accommodation form” to give to their landlord. The form must be signed by a medical professional or professional with a Master’s degree or higher who can attest to the individual’s need.

Landlords are required to provide reasonable accommodation for tenants under the Americans with Disabilities Act, but in some cases the tenant will have to pay for the materials required if alterations are necessary.

For a link to the PDF document, as well as additional information, go to the following link:

http://www.housing-rights.org/PDF/forms/RA_RM_Packet.pdf