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5 Landlord Legal Responsibilities in California

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Being a landlord comes with its fair share of responsibilities, both in terms of the job description itself and in terms of specific laws to follow. Landlord and tenant law varies from state to state; however, there are some aspects that remain relatively consistent from city to city. That being said, it can be incredibly beneficial to have a few state-specific regulations laid out for you if you’re just starting out as a property manager. Here are five legal responsibilities of landlords in the state of California.

Maintain a safe property for living

Providing a safe shelter for your tenants is a top priority in almost every state, and California is no exception. This involves keeping up with building codes and repairs, as well as providing a room for habitation that receives necessary utilities like electricity and water. You also need to make sure that you keep an eye on the common areas of your property, too, if you want to avoid a tenant hiring a personal injury lawyer when a banister on a stairwell breaks. 

Follow anti-discrimination laws

Anti-discrimination laws have become more and more important when it comes to finding and selecting tenants to rent your property to. Remember that as a landlord you are well within your right to reject an application from a tenant after running a background or credit check on them, as well as receiving negative references from their previous landlords. However, you can’t discriminate against a tenant based on their identity, which is protected by the United States constitution. This includes factors such as race, national origin, religion, sex, and sexuality. 

Handle security deposits appropriately

Security deposit laws are some of the most strictly enforced regulations any landlord will face. One reason for this is that disputes about security deposits are one of the most common types of legal charges a tenant will make against you. As such, it’s vital that you follow all limits about the security deposit to set it at an appropriate value of no more than three months rent if your property is furnished and two if it isn’t. You’ll also want to make sure that you itemize and share your list of repairs and other cleaning fees associated with the tenant’s unit when they move out. Both of these guidelines will protect you should you ever go to court because of a security deposit.

Disclose all necessary characteristics of your property

There are several other facts about your unit that you’ll need to disclose to a tenant before they agree to rent your property. While none of these will necessarily prevent you from renting your property, they must be followed if you want to stay in compliance of California and federal law. For example, you’ll need to let your tenants know if the property has a history of toxic mold or if any registered sex offender live in the property or close by. Information about bed bugs and how to properly dispose of bed bugs is also required, along with any other local ordinances based on the neighborhood your property is located in.

Provide proper notice before entering

One final regulation to follow as a landlord in California is the requirement of providing twenty-four hour notice to your tenant before you enter their home. This may be done over the phone or in writing, and needs to be followed so that you respect your tenants’ privacy. Providing twenty-four hour notice applies to situations in which you need to make repairs to their unit or are showing their unit to a prospective renter. 

Ultimately, it’s your responsibility as a property manager to brush up on local laws and regulations before you act as a landlord. There’s a long list of duties that you have as a landlord, and it’s vital that you understand those concepts so that you can avoid legal action from the city or your tenants. When in doubt, reach out to a legal professional with experience in landlord tenant law in California, so that you find the guidance you need to rent your property out successfully.