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Landlord Rights

Landlord Rights & Responsibilities

Para información en español acerca de sus derechos y responsabilidades como inquilino o propietario, por favor llame al: (805) 564-5420.


We have two books of information you can review below. This information is also broken into chapters for you to review.

The California Landlord’s Law Book: Rights and Responsibilities

1. Renting Your Property: How to Choose Tenants and Avoid Legal Pitfalls ..... 5

Adopt a Rental Plan and Stick to It (6)
Advertising Rental Property (6)
Dealing With Prospective Tenants (7)
Checking Background, References, and Credit History of Potential Tenants (17)
Choosing—And Rejecting—An Applicant (24)
Holding Deposits (28)

2. Understanding Leases and Rental Agreements ..... 31

Oral Agreements Are Not Recommended (33)
Written Agreements: Which Is Better, a Lease or a Rental Agreement? (34)
Foreign Language Note on California Leases and Rental Agreements (38)
Common Legal Provisions in Lease and Rental Agreement Forms (38)
How to Modify and Sign Form Agreements (63)
Cosigners (65)
Illegal Lease and Rental Agreement Provisions (67)

3. Basic Rent Rules ..... 75

How Much Can You Charge? (76)
When Rent Is Due (76)
Where and How Rent Is Due (78)
Late Charges (80)
Returned Check Charges (82)
Partial Rent Payments (82)

4. Rent Control ..... 87

Property Exempt From Rent Control (89)
Local Rent Control Administration (89)
Registration of Rental Properties (89)
Rent Formula and Individual Adjustments (90)
Security Deposits (91)
Certification of Correct Rent Levels by Board (92)
Vacancy Decontrol (92)
Tenant Protections: Just Cause Evictions (92)
Rent Control Board Hearings (95)
Legal Sanctions for Violating Rent Control (99)

5. Security Deposits ..... 101

Security Deposits Must Be Refundable (102)
How Landlords May Use Deposits (103)
Dollar Limits on Deposits (103)
How to Increase Deposit Amounts (104)
Last Month’s Rent (104)
Interest, Accounts, and Record Keeping on Deposits (105)
Insurance as a Backup to Deposits (107)
When Rental Property Is Sold (107)
When You’re Purchasing Rental Property (108)

6. Property Managers ..... 111

Hiring Your Own Manager (112)
Avoiding Legal Problems (113) 
Management Companies (124) 
An Owner’s Liability for a Manager’s Acts (124) 
Notifying Tenants of the Manager (126)
Firing a Manager (127) 
Evicting a Manager (127)  

7. Getting the Tenant Moved In ..... 129 

Inspect and Photograph the Unit (130)
Send New Tenants a Move-In Letter (137)
First Month’s Rent and Security Deposit Checks (141)

8. Lawyers, Legal Research, Eviction Services, and Mediation ..... 143

Legal Research Tools (144)
Mediating Disputes With Tenants (148)
Nonlawyer Eviction Services (149)
Lawyer Eviction Services (149)
Finding a Lawyer (150)
Paying a Lawyer (151)
Resolving Problems With Your Lawyer (152)

9. Discrimination ..... 155

Legal Reasons for Refusing to Rent to a Tenant (157)
Sources of Discrimination Laws (163)
Forbidden Types of Discrimination (163)
Occupancy Limits (179)
Legal Penalties for Discrimination (180)
Owner-Occupied Premises and Occasional Rentals (181)
Managers and Discrimination (182)
Insurance Coverage for Discrimination Claims (182)

10. Cotenants, Subtenants, and Guests ..... 185

Renting to More Than One Tenant (186) 
Subtenants and Sublets (187) 
When a Tenant Brings in a Roommate (189) 
If a Tenant Leaves and Assigns the Lease to Someone (191) 
Short-Term Rentals Like Airbnb (192)

11. The Landlord’s Duty to Repair and Maintain the Property ..... 193

State and Local Housing Standards (195)
Enforcement of Housing Standards (196)
Maintenance of Appliances and Other Amenities (199)
The Tenant’s Responsibilities (200)
The Tenant’s Right to Repair and Deduct (201)
The Tenant’s Right to Withhold Rent When the Premises Aren’t Habitable (202)
The Landlord’s Options If a Tenant Repairs and Deducts or Withholds Rent (204)
The Tenant’s Right to Move Out (206)The Tenant’s Right to Sue for Defective Conditions (209)
Avoid Rent Withholding and Other Tenant Remedies by Adopting a High-Quality Repair and Maintenance System (212)
Tenant Updates and Landlord’s Regular Safety and Maintenance Inspections (217)
Tenants’ Alterations and Improvements (222)
Cable TV (224)
Satellite Dishes and Other Antennas (227)

12. The Landlord’s Liability for Dangerous Conditions, Criminal Acts, and Environmental Health Hazards ..... 231

Legal Standards for Liability (233)
Landlord’s Responsibility to Protect Tenants From Crime (241)
How to Protect Your Tenants From Criminal Acts While Also Reducing Your Potential Liability (246)
Protecting Tenants From Each Other (and From the Manager) (252)
Landlord Liability for Drug-Dealing Tenants (255)
Liability for Environmental Hazards (258)
Liability, Property, and Other Types of Insurance (282)

13. The Landlord’s Right of Entry and Tenant’s Privacy ..... 287

The Landlord’s Right of Entry (288)
Entry by Others (295)
Other Types of Invasions of Privacy (296)
What to Do When Tenants Are Unreasonable (298)
Tenants’ Remedies If a Landlord Acts Illegally (299)

14. Raising Rents and Changing Other Terms of Tenancy ..... 301

Basic Rules to Change or End a Tenancy (302)
Rent Increase Rules (302)
Preparing a Notice to Raise Rent (311)
How to Serve the Notice on the Tenant (311)
When the Rent Increase Takes Effect (313)
Changing Terms Other Than Rent (313)

15. Retaliatory Rent Increases and Evictions ..... 317

Types of Prohibited Retaliation (318)
Proving Retaliation (319)
Avoiding Charges of Retaliation (320)
Liability for Illegal Retaliation (323)

16. The Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit ...... 327

When to Use a Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit (328)
How to Determine the Amount of Rent Due (328)
Directions for Completing the Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit (331)
Serving the Three-Day Notice on the Tenant (334)
When the Tenant Offers to Pay Rent (337)
The Tenant Moves Out (337)
If the Tenant Won’t Pay Rent (or Leave) (337)

17. Self-Help Evictions, Utility Terminations, and Taking Tenants’ Property ..... 339

Forcible Evictions (340)
Blocking or Driving the Tenant Out Without Force (341)
Seizing the Tenant’s Property and Other Harassment (342)
Effect of Landlord’s Forcible Eviction on a Tenant’s Liability for Rent (342)

18 Terminating Tenancies ..... 345

The 30-, 60-, or 90-Day Notice (347)
The Three-Day Notice in Cities That Don’t Require Just Cause for Eviction (355)
Termination When Just Cause for Eviction Is Required (363)
Termination Without Notice  (372)
The Initial Move-Out Inspection Notice (372)

19. When a Tenant Leaves: Month-to-Month Tenancies, Fixed-Term Leases, Abandonment, and Death of a Tenant.....  375

Terminating Month-to-Month Tenancies (376)
Terminating Fixed-Term Leases (378)
Termination by Tenant Abandoning Premises (382)
What to Do When Some Tenants Leave and Others Stay (385)
Death of a Tenant (386)

20. Returning Security Deposits ..... 391

Basic Rules for Returning Deposits (393)
Initial Move-Out Inspection and Tenant’s Right to Receipts (394)
Final Inspection (403)
Deductions for Cleaning and Damages (404)
Deductions for Unpaid Rent (406)
Preparing an Itemized Statement of Deductions (408)
Small Claims Lawsuits by the Tenant (413)
If the Deposit Doesn’t Cover Damage and Unpaid Rent (419)

21. Property Abandoned by a Tenant ..... 423

Handling, Storing, and Disposing of Personal Property (424)
Motor Vehicles Left Behind (429)


A. Rent Control Charts ..... 431

Reading Your Rent Control Ordinance (432)
Finding Municipal Codes and Rent Control Ordinances Online (433)
Rent Control Rules by California City (435)

B. How to Use the Downloadable Forms on the Nolo Website ..... 469

Editing RTFs (470)
List of Forms Available on the Nolo Website (470)

The California Landlord’s Law Book: Evictions

1. Evictions in California: An Overview ..... 5

The Landlord’s Role in Evictions (6)
Eviction Forms and Procedures (6)
Proceed With Caution When Evicting a Tenant (8)
How This Book Will Help You Do an Eviction (8)
Evictions in Certain Rent Control and Other Cities (10)
A Reason for Which You Must Evict: Drug Dealing (12)
Evicting Roommates (12)
Evicting a Resident Manager (13)
Attorneys and Eviction Services (15)

2. Eviction for Nonpayment of Rent ..... 17

Overview of the Process (18)
Preparing the Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit (20)
Serving the Three-Day Notice on the Tenant (28)
After the Three-Day Notice Is Served (33)
When to File Your Lawsuit (34)

3. Eviction by 30-Day or 60-Day Notice ..... 35

Overview of the Process (37)
When a Tenancy May Be Terminated With a 30-Day or 60-Day Notice (37)
Impermissible Reasons to Evict With a 30- or 60-Day Notice (39)
30-Day, 60-Day, and 90-Day Notices (42)
Rent Control and Just Cause Eviction Ordinances (42)
Should You Use a Three-Day, 30-Day, or 60-Day Notice? (48)
Preparing the 30-Day or 60-Day Notice (51)
Serving the Notice (51)
When to File Your Lawsuit (53)

4. Eviction for Lease Violations, Property Damage, or Nuisance ..... 55

When to Use a Three-Day Notice Eviction (56)
Checklist for Uncontested Nonrent Three-Day Notice Eviction (58)
Evicting a Tenant Who Is Dealing Drugs (58)
The Two Types of Three-Day Notices (58)
Type of Notice Used in Rent Control Communities (59)
Using the Three-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit (59)
Using the Unconditional Three-Day Notice to Quit (63)
Serving the Three-Day Notice (Either Type) (67)
Accepting Rent After the Notice Is Served (68)
When to File Your Lawsuit (68)

5. Eviction Without a Three-Day or Other Termination Notice ..... 69

Lease Expiration (70)
Termination by the Tenant (72)
Checklist for Uncontested “No-Notice” Eviction (74)

6. Filing and Serving Your Unlawful Detainer Complaint ..... 75

How to Use This Chapter (76)
When to File Your Unlawful Detainer Complaint (76)
Where to File Suit (77)
Preparing the Summons (77)
Preparing the Complaint (82)
Preparing the Civil Case Cover Sheet (98)
Getting the Complaint and Summons Ready to File (100)
Filing Your Complaint and Getting Summonses Issued (100)
Serving the Papers on the Defendant(s): Service of Process (101)
What Next? (115)

7. Taking a Default Judgment ..... 117

When Can You Take a Default? (118)
The Two-Step Default Judgment Process (119)
Getting a Default Judgment for Possession (120)
Having the Marshal or Sheriff Evict (134)

8. Contested Cases ..... 159

What Is Involved in a Contested Eviction Case (161)
Should You Hire an Attorney? (161)
How to Settle a Case (162)
Preparing and Filing a Stipulation for Entry of Judgment (165)
The Tenant’s Written Response to an Unlawful Detainer Complaint (171)
The Tenant’s Answer to Your Complaint (175)
Responding to the Answer (181)
Other Pretrial Complications (208)
Preparing for Trial (210)The Trial (218)
The Writ of Execution and Having the Sheriff or Marshal Evict (222)
Appeals (223)
Tenant’s Possible “Relief From Forfeiture” (224)

9. Collecting Your Money Judgment ..... 225

Collection Strategy (227)
Using the Tenant’s Security Deposit (228)
Finding the Tenant (229)
Locating the Tenant’s Assets (231)
Garnishing Wages and Bank Accounts (235)
Seizing Other Property (242)
If the Debtor Files a Claim of Exemption (244)
Once the Judgment Is Paid Off (246)

10. When a Tenant Files for Bankruptcy ..... 247

When a Tenant Can File for Bankruptcy (248)
The Automatic Stay (248)

11. Eviction of Tenants in Rental Property Purchased at Foreclosure ..... 261


A. Rent Control Charts ..... 263

Reading Your Rent Control Ordinance (264)
Finding Municipal Codes and Rent Control Ordinances Online (265)
Rent Control Rules by California City (267)

B. How to Use the Downloadable Forms on the Nolo Website ..... 301

Editing RTFs (302)
Using Judicial Council and Government Forms (302)
Special Requirements for Motions and Declarations (302)
List of Forms Available on the Nolo Website (303)

C. Forms ..... 305

Please make sure to visit the Santa Barbara County Superior Court website for all local forms related to Unlawful Detainers. Use of the Unlawful Detainer forms from the Nolo book are at your own risk, and forms may not be accepted by the Santa Barbara County Superior Court.

Last Updated: Oct 22, 2018
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