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Tenant's Rights in California
In California, a tenant leases or rents an apartment, condominium, house, duplex, room, or other similarly bound physical area from a landlord, the owner of the rental unit. If you are a tenant and have a dispute with your landlord talk to a California civil attorney who can help you reach a great resolution without even going through a stressful, time consuming and costly civil lawsuit.
However, Lawyers from LibertyBell Law Group won't hesitate to go to court in a lawsuit if they see that your tenant rights were violated and it is in your best interest to get the justice you deserve and compensation for any damages. Sometimes though, a lawsuit is not in your best interest and you can get justice and compensation through other civil legal processes with a lot less time and lower cost to you.
Aside from a civil lawsuit, our California lawyers also use Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR) to resolve disputes between tenants and landlords. Many times, lawyers use ADR, such as mediation or arbitration, to resolve tenant-landlord problems.
Know that tenant-landlord matters are governed not just by California state laws, but also federal and local laws. Our attorneys know the rights of tenants and the intricacies of each body of law and how they apply to your individual circumstances. A rental agreement or lease may also state provisions that abide by laws, but are particular to your circumstances. If a rental agreement or lease, which is a civil contract, states provisions that are illegal, then of course those provisions will not be legitimate in court.
There are types of residents that also have the same rights as tenants, called lodgers. Lodgers are residents who rent a unit in a motel or hotel. However, in some circumstances tenants' rights do not apply to lodgers. For instance, if you live in a motel or hotel for 30 days or less you do not have tenant's rights under California law.
In California, tenants have these rights and more:
- Knowing the name, telephone number, and address of the property manager, whether it is the owner or a person authorized to receive legal notices for the owner. It must be either posted in the rental unit, property or building or in the lease itself.
- Some repairs, in California, are required to be fixed by the landlord.
- A landlord may not discriminate against you by asking you orally or in writing about your ethnicity, color, religion, sex, age, medical condition, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, immigration or citizenship status, nationality, or whether you have persons living with you under the age of 18. A landlord may ask you about your source of income, and how many people will be living with you.
- When applying for a rental unit, if the landlord charges you an application screening fee and obtains your credit report, you have the right to request a copy of your credit report.
- If a landlord decides to change the terms of the lease or rental agreement, the landlord must give the tenant advanced written notice, at minimum, the same number of days between when rent is due. This does not apply to month-to-month. Laws for month-to-month rental agreements are different. There are also special rules that apply to other types of rental agreements. It is best to speak to a civil lawyer in California to see which rules apply to your individual circumstances.
- A tenant also has the right to pay the same monthly rental fee stated on the lease until the lease expires. A landlord may not increase the rental fee, unless the lease states that increases in rent are allowed. Before signing a rental contract, a tenant should always seek the advice of a civil lawyer to check for provisions that may not be obvious to a tenant or may not be beneficial to a tenant.
- While your lease is in effect, a landlord cannot evict unless you don't pay your rent, damage the property, or violate other tenant responsibilities.
- If there are shared utilities in your building, such as a water, electric, or a gas meter shared by more than one rental unit, be sure to ask the landlord how your utility bills are calculated.
- A tenant also has a legal right, and it is required, to receive a written translation of the rental contract before a tenant signs it, regardless of if it was requested or not, when the tenant and landlord negotiated the lease in another language. However, if an interpreter was used, this rule does not apply.
- A tenant's rights also include limits on the security deposit amount. Seek the advice of a civil lawyer in California to know what the limit is on your security deposit, as it depends on various factors.
- If a landlord does not give back a security deposit, the landlord must give the tenant a written account of how the security deposit was used, after you move.
- A landlord can only enter a tenant's rental unit for specific reasons, such as in an emergency, to make repairs or improvements, a court ordered permit, to inspect a waterbed, if a tenant abandoned the unit, to conduct an initial inspection before the end of tenancy, or to show the rental unit to prospective tenants before the end of tenancy.
- A tenant has the right to make repairs to serious defects and then deduct the repair costs from the rent, called "rent withholding." However, a tenant has to prove that serious defects existed with evidence, such as pictures, videos, witnesses, and letters to the landlord that explained the defect. The tenant must inform the landlord that repairs are needed before "rent withholding" and taking action to have the defects repaired. You should talk to a California civil attorney to see if the defect in your rental unit is eligible for "rent withholding," and the appropriate legal procedures to take in avoidance of any negative effect on yourself.
Tenants have rights in California but there are laws and rules that govern the relationship between a tenant and a landlord, including how they should communicate before taking legal action. Experienced lawyers also know there are civil legal procedures that have to be followed when taking any form of legal action. Speak to a California civil attorney to find out how the local, state, and federal laws apply to your particular rental agreement or lease. Whether it's a written or oral lease agreement, as a tenant, you have rights.
Call the best civil attorneys in California now at 855-200-ATTY (855-200-2889). You may also type in the confidential form to your right the details of your tenant matter and our civil attorneys will call you back within one business day to talk about your options.