A Guide to Tenants’ Rights in California


A Guide to Tenants’ Rights in California

Whether you’re a renter, buyer or investor, the California real estate market can be tricky to navigate. With so many regulations and laws at play, it can be difficult to keep track of your obligations as a tenant. If you’re on the journey to understanding your tenant rights in Orange County, Los Angeles, Santa Monica or any other region in California, look no further. This comprehensive guide features some of the most important information you need to know, as well as some handy resources that could greatly assist your tenants’ rights. Let’s take a look below.

Maximum Security Deposit Amount

California landlords can charge a maximum of two months’ rent as a security bond for unfurnished rental properties. On the other hand, for furnished rentals, landlords are permitted to charge a maximum of three months’ rent for a security deposit. If the tenant is an active service member, then the maximum permitted amount for security bonds is one month for unfurnished space and two months for a furnished space.

Tenant Rights to Withhold Rent

Landlords in California are legally obligated to maintain habitable environments for their tenants. As a result, if a landlord fails to uphold this duty and the living space poses a health or safety risk to the tenants, the tenants have the legal right to withhold rent until the issues with the property are resolved and a livable atmosphere is restored. This is the only circumstance under which tenants are legally allowed to withhold rent.

Late Rent Payments and Lease Violations

If a tenant fails to pay rent, the landlord must give a three-day notice for the tenant to either pay the rent that is due or move before the landlord can file an eviction suit. If the tenant does not proceed with either of those options by the end of that three-day period, then the landlord is legally allowed to sue the tenant. The same rules apply for lease violations; if the tenant violates a component of the lease agreement, the landlord can issue a three-day notice for the renter to rectify the problem or move out. If they do not, the landlord can then sue.

Assistive Agencies for Tenants

Fair Housing Councils

Fair housing councils aid in protecting tenants against discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, applying for a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, and more. A couple of the main fair housing councils in California include:

  • Fair Housing Council of Orange County
  • Fair Housing Council of Riverside


Rent Stabilization Boards

Rent stabilization agencies safeguard tenants from unreasonable and/or unlawful rent increases and evictions. They also work to ensure a fair return to property owners. A few of California’s rent stabilization bodies are as follows:

  • Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board
  • Los Angeles Housing Department
  • San Francisco Rent Board
  • Santa Monica Rent Control Board

Advocacy Entities

There are a few other organizations in California that advocate on the behalf of tenants and seek to ensure that they are well-protected. Some of these include:

To ensure your own safety and peace of mind as a tenant in California, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with tenants’ rights in the state. By reading this guide, you’ve taken an excellent first step in educating yourself and making more informed renting decisions in the future. 

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