OAKLAND – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued a consumer alert advising California tenants of their rights and protections under state law. Californians who believe their landlord has violated their tenant rights or are facing eviction should seek legal help immediately. For more information and resources, visit oag.ca.gov/housing.
“Today, my office issued guidance in 24 languages advising California tenants on their rights and protections under state law,” said Attorney General Bonta. “I know navigating tenant-landlord relationships can be difficult, and many California families are struggling to find safe and affordable housing. As a California tenant, you have important rights: You are protected from unjust eviction, eviction without a court order, and large rent hikes. You are also protected from discrimination or retaliation. I urge all Californians to familiarize themselves with their tenant rights, and to seek immediate help if they believe their landlord is violating the law.”
Today’s alert is available in English, Spanish, Arabic, Armenian (Eastern), Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Hmong, Italian, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Lao, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russian, Tagalog, Telugu, Thai, Ukrainian, and Vietnamese.
Know Your Rights:
- You can only be evicted by court order. It is illegal for a landlord to lock you out, shut off your utilities, or put your things out on the curb to try to force you out.
- You can generally only be evicted for “just cause.” This does not apply if you lived somewhere for less than a year or to some types of housing. A list of "just causes" for eviction is available here.
- Your rent can generally be increased by no more than 10% in one year. Depending on where you live, this cap may be even lower. This cap does not apply to some types of housing. When raising your rent, your landlord must provide formal written notice — a call, text, or email is not enough.
- Your landlord must repair health and safety issues. For example, they must provide safe and working plumbing and heating and keep the premises free from roaches and rats. If there is a health or safety issue, ask your landlord in writing to repair it, and keep copies of your requests.
- Your landlord must return your security deposit. Your landlord must itemize any deductions from your security deposit within 21 days of you moving out. Deductions can be made for things like unpaid rent, cleaning, and repairing damage beyond ordinary wear and tear.
- Your landlord must provide reasonable accommodations if you have a disability. Your landlord must also allow you to make reasonable physical modifications to your rental unit.
- Your landlord cannot discriminate against you. Discrimination on the basis of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability status, marital status, income source, veteran status, or certain other characteristics is illegal.
In addition to statewide protections, some cities and counties have additional rental protections, including limits on rent increases and requiring just cause for evictions. Californians should check what protections are in place where they live.
Attorney General Bonta is committed to advancing housing access, affordability, and equity in California. Last year, Attorney General Bonta announced the creation of the Housing Strike Force, which has taken actions to protect and promote tenants' rights, including:
- Securing a $3.5 million judgment against Wedgewood, a real estate investment company based in Los Angeles County that unlawfully evicted tenants from properties that it had purchased at foreclosure sales.
- Issuing legal guidance to California law enforcement agencies in an effort to prevent unlawful tenant lockouts and self-help evictions.
- Issuing over 90 warning letters to eviction lawyers across the state in response to allegations that some landlords were filing false declarations to unlawfully evict Californian families in violation of COVID-19 emergency tenant protections.
- Reminding local officials across the state of key protections for people with disabilities in housing and other public accommodations.
- Demanding that the City of El Cajon immediately rescind warning notices sent to local hotels participating in the County of San Diego’s voucher program for individuals experiencing homelessness.
The Housing Strike Force encourages Californians to send complaints or tips related to housing to oag.ca.gov/report. Information on legal aid in your area is available at lawhelpca.org.