Landlord-Tenant Laws for California Cities

Tenant Check October 31, 2019
image of typical San Francisco neighborhood


Landlord-Tenant Laws for California Cities

Across the state of California, property owners can encounter city-level legislation that further complicates running your rental. Much of the legislation that varies from city to city involves rent control limitations. Outlined below are some of the things to know if your property is in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, and San Diego.

Los Angeles

  • Landlords must pay interest on security deposits
  • Rental property owners must pay fees to the Los Angeles Housing and Community Development Department (HCIDLA) every January
  • Rent Stabilization Ordinance
    • Los Angeles and building built before Oct. 1, 1978
    • Rent cannot increase by more than 4% once per year (6% if the landlord pays utilities)
    • Rent can be increased when a new tenant moves into the unit
    • The landlord must compensate the tenant for moving costs in the situation of a No-Fault eviction
    • Tenants in Los Angeles are protected under the Tenant Buyout Protection Law. 
  • Not Under Rent Stabilization
    • Rent cannot increase during the time of the lease unless outlined in the lease if the duration of the lease is more than month-to-month
  • Systematic Code Enforcement Program
    • Applicable to any property with at least two units and at least one is a rental
    • Implemented to ensure rental units are safe, livable, and habitable in accordance with California Health and Safety Code and Los Angeles Municipal Code
    • Fees billed annually with inspections every four years unless a complaint is filed
    • When reported, the property owner has 30 days to make necessary and compliant repairs
    • A tenant may receive a rent reduction from the city until violations are corrected
    • Deficiencies can include:
      • Unsanitary conditions
      • Broken walls or windows
      • Missing or improperly installed detectors
      • Missing or defective light fixtures or electrical outlets
      • Insufficient plumbing
      • Lack of hot water or heat
      • Unapproved use or occupancy

Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department is a valuable resource for additional details for rental property management in Los Angeles.

San Francisco

  • Landlords must pay interest annually on security deposits
  • If you advertise a unit’s views as one of the perks of the unit, a tenant can apply for a rent reduction if new construction blocks the view.
  • If a tenant has to move out due to a natural catastrophe, the tenant can move back in at the same rent once the repairs are done.
  • Ensure that the unit can maintain a temperature of 68 degrees between 5am-11am and 3pm-10pm
  • Rent Ordinance
    • All rent increases must be approved by the Rent Board
    • Rent increases are tied to inflation rates and maximum increases can vary
    • Properties built after Jun. 13, 1979 are exempt from rent control
    • Other exemptions include subsidized housing, residential hotel, dormitory, hospital, monastery, nunnery, etc
    • Generally, single-family homes are not covered under rent control, especially if the tenant moved in after Jan. 1, 1996
    • The nuances of Rent Control in San Francisco are extensive and worth the time to research and deduce which limitations your property may fall into.
  • Landlords must accept Section 8 vouchers

The San Francisco Rent Board is the place to visit to answer all your questions regarding the nuances of this legislation.

San Jose

  • Apartment Rent Ordinance
    • Applicable for most rental apartments built before Sept. 7, 1979
    • This does NOT cover duplexes, condos, townhouses, in-law units, and single-family homes
    • City approved notices indicating that ARO applies to your property must be posted in the building and given to tenants when they sign their lease
    • Under ARO, landlords cannot collect additional rent for storage, pets, dependents, spouses, or children.
    • Rent increases are limited to 5% annually
    • Rent must be adjusted if housing services are removed (ex: pool, storage, laundry, parking)
    • Tenants have a few options if offered a buyout:
      • Accept
      • Refuse
      • Get counsel from Rent Stabilization Program staff
      • Cancel within 45 days of acceptance
  • Landlords must accept Section 8 vouchers

The city of San Jose offers video resources, forms, and fact sheets to help with local landlord-tenant legislation.

San Diego

  • Rent Control
    • This will be implemented in Jan 2020
    • The limit will be 7-8%, 5% rent plus inflation
    • Regardless of inflation rates, all increases are limited to 10%
    • Only applies to properties built before 2005
    • Landlords are required to provide notice to renters if their property is exempt, notice must outline why the property is exempt
    • Single-family homes are not exempt if it is owned by a large corporation
  • Landlords must accept Section 8 vouchers

San Diego specific landlord resources include how to help veterans, why accepting Section 8 can benefit you, and how to market your property.

For information on other cities with Rent Control check out their local resources:
Beverley Hills
East Palo Alto
Los Gatos
Palm Springs
Santa Monica
West Hollywood
Thousand Oaks