Landlord-Tenant Issues

As a tenant, knowing your rights is critical. Under California law, residential tenants are protected from certain rent increases and may be protected from certain types of evictions.

It is important to act quickly if your landlord serves you with an eviction notice, tells you to move out, increases your rent illegally, or if you know cannot afford your rent. Many legal processes affecting tenants move swiftly, so do not ignore important notices. Instead, reach out for legal assistance as soon as possible to discuss your options. If you cannot afford a lawyer, you may qualify for free or low-cost legal aid. To find a legal aid office near where you live, please visit

As a landlord, it is vital to understand and uphold the protections available to California renters under the law. With the recently enacted Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482) and other laws, it is important for landlords of residential properties to be familiar with state and local developments to prevent legal violations.

Click on the links below to learn more about landlord-tenant protections:

To stay informed about what the Attorney General is doing to protect tenants’ rights and address California’s housing crisis, please visit the Housing Justice Team webpage at For additional resources, visit the State of California’s Housing is Key website, and read the “Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords Rights and Responsibilities.” For residents and owners of mobilehome parks, read the “Mobilehome Residency Law Handbook.”

Statewide Rent Caps and Eviction Protections

In 2019, California enacted the Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482), which created significant new protections for residential tenants. Both tenants and landlords should be aware of the requirements of this law.

Limits on Rent Increases

The Tenant Protection Act caps rent increases for most residential tenants in California. Landlords cannot raise rent more than 10% total or 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living – whichever is lower – over a 12-month period. If the tenants of a unit move out and new tenants move in, the landlord may establish the initial rent to charge. (Civ. Code § 1947.12.) The percentage change in the cost of living for most areas can be found through the national consumer price index by the Bureau of Labor Statistics or California consumer price index by the California Department of Industrial Relations.

In addition to the statewide limit, local rent control laws may further restrict how much a landlord can increase rent annually. Tenants and landlords should consult local resources to see whether their city or county has rules that may offer additional protection to tenants.

Just-Cause Eviction Requirement

The Tenant Protection Act also creates statewide eviction protections for most residential tenants after they have lived in their unit for 12 months. The law sets out two kinds of permissible evictions: "at fault" evictions (where the landlord moves to evict a tenant because the tenant is allegedly “at fault”) and "no fault" evictions (where the landlord moves to evict the tenant through “no fault” of the tenant).

“At fault” evictions include:

  • Nonpayment of rent
  • Breach of a material term of the lease
  • Nuisance, waste, or using the unit for unlawful purposes
  • Criminal activity committed on the premises or criminal activity that is directed at the owner or its agent
  • Refusal to allow lawful entry
  • Refusal to execute a new lease containing similar terms

“No fault” evictions include:

  • Owner move-in
  • Intent to demolish or substantially remodel the unit
  • Withdrawal of the unit from the rental market
  • The owner complying with a government order or local law that requires the tenant to leave

Landlords can only evict a tenant for one of the reasons listed above. Some of these reasons have their own specific requirements. For instance:

  • Owner Move-In: A tenant can only be evicted for owner move-in if the owner or the owner’s spouse, domestic partner, child, grandchild, parent, or grandparent intends to move into the unit. Any landlord planning an owner move-in must act truthfully and in good faith and comply with all state and local requirements. Effective April 1, 2024, the owner or relative must move in within 90 days after the tenant leaves and live there as their primary residence for at least 12 consecutive months. Otherwise, the unit must be offered back to the tenant at the same rent and lease terms as when the tenant left, and the tenant must be reimbursed reasonable moving expenses. Also effective April 1, 2024, the eviction notice must include the name of the person moving in, their relationship to the owner, and that the tenant may request proof of that relationship, and there must be no other similar unit already vacant on the property that the owner or relative could move in to instead.
  • Substantial Remodel: Landlords must act truthfully and in good faith and comply with all state and local requirements when evicting a tenant to conduct a substantial remodel of a unit, as not all repairs meet the definition of “substantial remodel.” To be a “substantial remodel,” the landlord must plan to either replace or substantially modify a structural, electrical, plumbing or other system in the unit in a way that requires a permit, or to abate hazardous materials within the unit. In addition, the work must not be able to be done in a safe manner with tenants in the unit and must require a tenant to vacate the unit for at least 30 consecutive days. Cosmetic renovations do not count. Please also be aware that there may be special protections for protected groups such as senior tenants. Effective April 1, 2024, the eviction notice must include a description of the work to be done, copies of required permits, and a notice that if the substantial remodel is not commenced or completed, the tenant must be given the opportunity to re-rent the unit at the same rent and lease terms as when the tenant left.

(Civ. Code § 1946.2.)

Lying about the reason for evicting a tenant is illegal, and tenants with concerns about the legitimacy of their eviction should consult an attorney.

In addition to the statewide requirement that landlords have just cause before evicting a tenant, local laws may offer additional protections to residential tenants. Tenants and landlords should consult local resources to see whether their city or county has rules that may offer additional tenant protections.

Who These Protections Apply To

The Tenant Protection Act applies to ALL residential rental units in the state except those specifically identified in the law. Some examples of properties not covered by the Act include:

  • Single-family homes not owned or controlled by a corporation or real estate investment trust (the Act does apply to single-family homes owned or controlled by a corporation or real estate investment trust)
  • Units covered by a local rent control ordinance that is more protective than the Tenant Protection Act
  • Units issued a certificate of occupancy within the past 15 years (this is a rolling timeline, so tenants will gain protection once their building turns 15)
  • Mobilehomes, unless the mobilehome is owned and offered for rent by the owner or manager of a mobilehome park
  • Duplexes where the owner is living in one of the units at the time the tenant moves into the other unit, but only as long as the owner continues to live there
  • Housing that is restricted as affordable housing by deed, government agency agreement, or other recorded document, or that is subject to an agreement that provides housing subsidies for affordable housing
  • Dorms

The Tenant Protection Act applies to recipients of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. It includes a narrow exception for housing that is restricted as affordable housing by deed, government agency agreement, or other recorded document, or that is subject to an agreement that provides housing subsidies for affordable housing. (Civ. Code §§ 1946.2, subd. (e)(9), 1947.12, subd. (d)(1).) Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers help tenants pay for market-rate housing that owners/operators offer to the general public at market-rate rents, not for affordable housing as referenced in the Act. Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers also apply to specific tenancies, not to the housing itself. Market-rate tenancies subsidized by Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are therefore not exempt from the Act’s rent increase and just cause eviction protections.

Additional Topics Affecting Landlords & Tenants

Landlords and those who act on their behalf, such as property managers, realtors, and attorneys, are responsible for complying with all state and local laws, including the following important points. Tenants should also read the below so they understand their rights as renters.

Housing Conditions

Landlords are required to keep residential units safe and well-maintained. This is known as habitability. This includes things like providing safe and working plumbing, heating, electrical equipment, floors, and stairs; effective waterproofing; windows and doors with working locks; and keeping the property free from roaches, rats, and other vermin. (Civil Code § 1941.1.) Even if tenants knew that their unit was not up to these standards when they moved in, it is still the landlord's responsibility to make all units habitable. Additionally:

  • Tenants with health or safety issues in their homes have a right to ask their landlords to make repairs. Tenants should make repair requests and complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions in writing. Tenants should document issues by text messages, emails, letters, and certified mail, and also by videos and photos. Tenants should keep a copy of any communications they have with their landlord.
  • If a landlord refuses to make repairs, tenants should contact their local code enforcement office or local health department. Cities or counties may also have their own rent board or rent control program that deals with building health and safety.
  • If a tenant living in a unit with health or safety issues is served with an eviction notice, it is very important for the tenant to inform a lawyer or the court about those health and safety issues. Doing so may help the tenant’s defense or affect the landlord’s right to evict the tenant. (Civ. Code §§ 1942.3, 1942.4.)
  • Tenants are responsible for keeping their units clean and sanitary, and for using appliances and fixtures as intended. Tenants must also avoid damaging the unit. If tenants cause damage to the unit, they may be responsible for the costs of repairing it.

Notice for Rent Increases

When raising a tenant’s rent, landlords must deliver the tenant a formal written notice of the change. It is not enough for a landlord to call, text, or email that they plan on raising the rent. Landlords must also give residential tenants sufficient warning before increasing rent. If the rent increase is 10% or less, landlords must provide notice 30 days before the increase can take effect. If the rent increase is more than 10%, the landlord must provide notice 90 days before it can take effect. (Civ. Code § 827). If a notice is not in writing or delivered on time, a tenant should consult a lawyer about their rights.


It is illegal to try to "evict" a tenant by locking them out, shutting off the water or electricity, or removing their personal property. The only lawful way to evict a tenant is to file a case in court and go through the legal process. A tenant who has been locked out should consult a lawyer about their rights, including returning to their unit and getting damages from the landlord. (Civ. Code § 789.3.)

Security Deposits

Landlords must return a residential tenant’s security deposit upon move-out except for amounts deducted for lawful purposes. Lawful purposes include unpaid rent, cleaning, repair of damage caused by the tenant beyond normal wear and tear, and in some cases, replacing furnishings. Landlords have 21 days from a tenant’s move-out to issue a full refund of the security deposit or to provide a statement explaining any deductions along with the remainder of the security deposit and any receipts. (Civ. Code § 1950.5.)

Price Gouging

Price-gouging protections, including protections under city or county price gouging ordinances and as a result of local emergency proclamations, may apply to rental housing, effectively limiting rent increases. Many cities and counties have enacted additional rental protections, including rent stabilization and just-cause eviction ordinances that may apply to both rental units and/or to mobilehome owners renting lot spaces from a mobilehome park owner. Landlords and mobilehome park owners should remain aware of the legal requirements applicable to the cities and counties where their rental properties are located.


Landlords may not retaliate against tenants for exercising their rights. For example, it is against the law for a landlord to try to evict a tenant who has asked for repairs or pointed out that a rent increase is unlawful, or to take away services or rights that the tenant previously enjoyed, like a storage space or parking. (Civ. Code § 1942.5.)

Reasonable Accommodations

Residential landlords must provide reasonable accommodations that will allow tenants with disabilities the full use and enjoyment of their unit. Specifically:

  • Reasonable accommodations may involve adjusting rules or policies in a way that helps a person with a disability have equal enjoyment of their housing. For example, a landlord is permitted to have a “no pets” policy, but must make a reasonable accommodation for a tenant with a service or emotional support animal by waiving the “no pets” policy for that tenant.
  • Landlords cannot charge tenants the cost of offering a reasonable accommodation.
  • Additionally, landlords must make or allow reasonable physical modifications to the unit or common areas so that tenants with disabilities have full enjoyment of the premises. In most situations, tenants are responsible for covering the costs of the reasonable modification.
  • If a tenant with a disability is being denied or charged for a reasonable accommodation, they should contact an attorney.


Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on the tenant’s race, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, ancestry, disability status, marital status, familial status, source of income (Section 8 vouchers, for example), veteran status, or certain other characteristics.

  • Additionally, private housing providers are prohibited from discriminating against tenants on the basis of citizenship, immigration status, primary language, age, medical condition, or any other arbitrary personal characteristic.
  • Discrimination may take many different forms, but can include refusing to rent to a certain tenant, providing a tenant with less favorable rental terms, targeting certain tenants for eviction, or more.
  • In most cases, landlords are not allowed to ask a tenant or prospective tenant their immigration or citizenship status. Landlords are never allowed to threaten to disclose a tenant or occupant’s immigration status in order to pressure a tenant to move out. Landlords are also never allowed to harass or retaliate against a tenant by disclosing their immigration status to law enforcement.
  • If a tenant has concerns that they are being treated unfairly on the basis of a protected characteristic, they should consult a lawyer.

If you are a tenant facing an eviction, struggling to pay rent, or otherwise concerned about your ability to stay in your unit, free or low-cost legal help may be available. To find a legal aid office near where you live, please visit If you don’t qualify for legal aid, you may obtain a referral to a certified lawyer referral service from the California State Bar. If you are unable to find legal assistance, consult the California Courts' self-help resources for tenants facing evictions.

Know Your Rights Guides for Tenants

Quick Reference Guide for Landlords and Property Managers

Tenant Protection Act - Landlords and Property Managers
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