Attorney General Bonta Issues Consumer Alerts, Guidance to Protect California Tenants and Remind Property Managers and Landlords of their Legal Obligations

Tuesday, February 6, 2024
Contact: (916) 210-6000,

Includes new information calculating allowable rent increases under TPA

SAN FRANCISCO – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today issued five consumer alerts advising California tenants of their rights and protections under state law, and alerting property managers and landlords of their obligations to tenants. The consumer alerts cover information about the Tenant Protection Act (TPA), security deposits, habitability, and the eviction process. The ‘Know Your Rights as a Tenant’ consumer alert includes a new chart outlining, for each county, the maximum annual rent increase currently allowed under the TPA and is available in 24 languages. Both property owners and property managers must familiarize themselves with the requirements of the TPA and other landlord-tenant laws to ensure that they are acting in compliance with those laws.

"If you live in a rented home in California, you have rights. California law protects tenants from San Diego to Siskiyou -- regardless of immigration status or employment status, race, or gender identity,” said Attorney General Bonta. “California law protects you from eviction without a court order, discrimination, and retaliation. Most tenants are also protected from evictions without just cause and large rent hikes. 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. Information on tenant rights should be accessible, easy to understand, and available to all Californians, and today's consumer alerts aim to do just that."

According to the California Budget and Policy Center, almost 17 million Californians – 44% of all state residents – live in homes that are rented and over half of California renter households are housing cost-burdened, placing them at increased risk of housing instability and homelessness. Californians who are especially likely to be renters include those with lower incomes.

Californians who are facing eviction or believe their landlord has violated their tenant rights should seek legal help immediately. 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, visit LawHelpCA and click on the “Find Legal Help” tab. If you do not qualify for legal aid and need help finding a lawyer, visit the California State Bar webpage to find a local certified lawyer referral service, or visit the California Courts’ webpage for tenants facing evictions. 

The alerts issued today provide guidance for tenants and landlords, and cover information including the following: 

Know Your Rights as a Tenant 

  • Your rent can generally be increased by no more than 10% a year.
  • You can only be evicted by court order, and generally only for “just cause.”
  • Your landlord must repair health and safety issues. 
  • Your landlord must return your security deposit and must itemize deductions within 21 days of you moving out.
  • Your landlord must provide reasonable accommodations if you have a disability.
  • Your landlord cannot discriminate against you or retaliate against you for exercising your tenant rights.

Obligations as a Landlord or Property Manager under the Tenant Protection Act (TPA) 

  • Rent may not be increased more than 5% plus the change in the cost of living (pursuant to the Consumer Price Index) or 10% total, whichever is lower, over the course of any 12-month period.
  • After living in their unit for 12 months, tenants can only be evicted for just cause, as listed in the TPA. 
  • For no-fault evictions, tenants are entitled to relocation assistance equal to one month of rent.
  • Cities or counties may have additional rent-control laws and eviction protections.

Security Deposits 

  • After July 1, 2024, for most landlords, the security deposit is limited to one month’s rent. 
  • Security deposits may be used only for (1) past-due rent; (2) the cost of repairing damages caused by tenants or their guests, not including ordinary wear and tear; (3) the cost of cleaning property so that it is as clean as when the tenant first moved in; and (4) the cost of replacing or restoring the landlord’s personal property, if the rental agreement says this is allowed. 
  • Within 21 days after move-out, the landlord must send the tenant an itemized statement of any deductions from the security deposit and return the rest of the deposit.
  • City or county rules may have more tenant protections or landlord requirements. For example, some cities make landlords pay interest on security deposits.

The Right to a Safe and Well-Maintained Home 

  • Your landlord must keep your home safe and fit to live in, regardless of the home’s condition when you moved in. Your landlord must provide:

o   Working plumbing, including hot and cold water and sewage disposal.

o   Safe and working electrical equipment and wiring, including lighting.

o   Heating.

o   Walls and roofs that keep out rain and wind.

o   Unbroken windows and doors, with working locks.

o   Working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. 

o   Safe fire or emergency exits.

o   Adequate pest control for rodents (like rats) and insects (like roaches and bed bugs).

o   Adequate sanitation, including enough trash cans, and clean common areas.

o   Floors, stairways, and railings in good repair.

o   Repairs to prevent and fix health hazards, such as fire hazards, visible mold, or dampness.

  • You have a right to ask your landlord to repair any unsafe or unhealthy conditions. If your landlord refuses to make repairs, seek help right away. Tell your local code enforcement office, local building department, or local health department about any unsafe or unhealthy conditions. 
  • You may be entitled to relocation assistance. If the conditions are so bad that your immediate health or safety is in danger, the city or county may make you leave the property immediately and may also require your landlord to pay for you to relocate to a new home.
  • Withholding rent may put you at risk of eviction. If your landlord refuses to make repairs, seek legal help before deciding whether to stop paying rent.


  • If you get an eviction notice, read it carefully and try to fix the issue in the eviction notice before the deadline. Get legal help if you have questions about the eviction notice or if there is something wrong with it. 
  • If you get eviction-related court documents, get legal help right away. Evictions can move fast, and you could lose a court case automatically if you take too long to act.
  • You may have defenses against certain types of evictions. There are also laws protecting you from discrimination and retaliation.
  • Your landlord cannot evict you without a court order. It is illegal for a landlord to lock you out, shut off your utilities, or move your things to force you out. Only a Sheriff, a Marshall, or their deputies may evict you, and only with a court order.

In addition to statewide protections, some cities and counties have additional rental protections, including stricter limits on rent increases than the TPA and additional just cause requirements. Californians should check what protections are in place where they live. For more information and resources, visit the Resources for Tenants tab here.

Today’s Know Your Rights 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. The remaining four consumer alerts are available in English, Spanish, Chinese (Simplified), Korean, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. 

All of the alerts are available here. 

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