Tenant rights protect renters from unlawful acts by unscrupulous landlords. In California, residential tenants have important legal rights. You may have questions about your rights under state or local law. Whether you are a couple days late on your rent, trying to get your landlord to make a basic repair or fighting to get your full security deposit back, it is crucial you know how the law protects you. In this article, our San Francisco landlord-tenant law attorneys highlight four (4) key things to know about tenant rights in California.
California Tenant Rights: An Overview
1. You Have the Right to a Habitable Apartment
In California, landlords have a basic legal responsibility to provide tenants with an apartment that is “fit to live in.” This is often referred to as a tenant’s right to habitability. Legally speaking, California defines a habitable unit as one that complies with state and local health and build codes. If your unit is no longer reasonable “habitable,” you may have the right to withhold rental payments.
Further, if you or your loved one is injured because of unsafe conditions on the property, you have a right to bring a claim against your landlord. As clearly stated in the Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions, a “landlord must take reasonable precautions to prevent injury due to any unsafe condition” on the premises.
2. You Have the Right to Basic Privacy in Your Unit
As a residential tenant in California, you have some privacy protections. A landlord cannot simply enter your unit whenever they want. California law states a landlord can only enter a unit that has been rented if there is an emergency, to make agreed upon repairs, or with permission of the tenant. If your landlord barged into your home or apartment without just cause, your tenant rights have been violated.
3. You are Protected Against an Improper Eviction
California has strict rules and regulations in place regarding residential evictions. Your landlord cannot simply throw you out of a unit because you are a day or two late on rent. They must follow the proper procedures set forth by state law — including providing adequate notice and avoiding unlawful self-help evictions.
4. You Have the Right to Get Your Security Deposit Back — Less Reasonable Costs
California has a strict security deposit law. First and foremost, security deposits are limited at a maximum of two (2) months’ rent. A landlord cannot require a security deposit larger than that. Once you move out of your unit, you should receive your security deposit back within 21 days — less any reasonable deductions for repairs and cleaning costs.
Call Our Bay Area Tenant Rights Attorneys for Legal Help
At Bracamontes & Vlasak, our California tenant rights lawyers provide trustworthy, effective representation to clients. If you have any questions about tenant rights in California, our legal team can help. Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We serve communities throughout the Bay Area, including in San Francisco, Oakland, Alameda, San Jose, Palo Alto, and Mountain View.