Under California statues, tenants and landlords have specific responsibilities to maintain property in livable condition and to adhere to the terms of their lease agreements. When any of these responsibilities has gone unfulfilled the tenant or landlord has the right to pursue remedies through the California small claims court providing financial damages are $10,000 or less.
Landlord Restrictions and Responsibilities
When a property owner is leasing a property, they must ensure the property is habitable and that any defects are disclosed in the terms of the lease agreement. Some of the specific disclosures that must be made include:
- Sex offender disclosures – landlords must provide the appropriate Meghan’s Law disclosure in each lease agreement to be acknowledged by the tenant.
- Defect disclosures – any problems with the property including pesticides used to treat pests and toxic mold or any defect which can cause health problems must be fully disclosed to tenants or potential tenants.
- Utility disclosures – for multi-family units, if common area utilities or multiple units are running off one meter, there must be a disclosure in the lease as well as a fair allocation of costs including in the lease agreement.
- Smoking policies – all smoking policies must be disclosed in the lease including prohibitions on smoking in individual units, common areas and outdoor areas.
Tenant Rights and Responsibilities
California law provides tenants with certain rights including limiting the amount of a security deposit a landlord may collect. For unfurnished units, landlords may only collect two months’ rent and for furnished units, three months. In addition, tenants are entitled to have their deposits returned within 14 days of vacating the property less any damage. Landlords must provide the tenant notice of at least 24 hours before entering the property unless there is an emergency. Should a landlord fail to provide adequate remedies for property defects, tenants may also withhold rent or have repairs done and deduct the cost from their rental payments.
Lease agreements are designed to protect both landlords and tenants and clearly spell out the terms of the agreement between them. Should a tenant fail to make rent payments on time, landlords may assess late payments pursuant to the agreement and may initiate eviction procedures. Once the term of the lease expires, if the landlord accepts a rent payment and the tenant remains in the property, the lease term will have been assumed to be continued for a period of one year should any dispute arise.
Whether you are a landlord or a tenant facing issues with the terms of a lease agreement, or having a disagreement over the terms of a lease in Los Angeles, contact Law Office Alfred M. Freitas at 323-660-0000.