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Tenant Rights

Tenant Rights & Responsibilities

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


The California Tenants' Rights eBook (12 MB Download/link to Full eBook) is an excellent resource. You can read this book at the link below or you can navigate by chapters also listed below. 

California Tenants' Rights eBook 

1. Looking for a Place and Renting It ..... 5

Get Organized and Set Your Rental Priorities (7)
Learn About Leases and Rental Agreements (8)
Typical Provisions in Leases and Rental Agreements (11)
Lease Terms to Watch Out For (16)
Holding Deposits and Credit-Check Fees (20)
Rental Applications and Credit Reports (21)
How Landlords Must Handle Your Credit Information (23)
Permissible Reasons for Rejecting Tenants (23)
How to Check a Place Over (23)
How to Bargain for the Best Deal (27)
Get All Promises in Writing (28)
The Landlord-Tenant Checklist (29)
Cosigning Leases (29)
Know Your Manager (36)

2. Sharing a Home ..... 37

The Legal Obligations of Roommates to the Landlord (38)
Your Responsibility for Rent if You Move Out and Your Roommate Stays (38)
Having a Friend Move In (40)
Victims of Harassment, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault, Stalking, or Elder or Dependent Adult Abuse (43)
Guests (44)

3. All About Rent ..... 45

How Much Can the Landlord Charge? (46)
When Is Rent Due? (46)
Form of Rent Payment (46)
Late Fees and Returned Check Charges (47)
Partial Rent Payments (48)
Rent Increases (48)
Rent Increase Notices (49)
Rent Control and Eviction Protection (51)
General Types of Rent Control Laws (55)
Rent Control Board Hearings (56)
What to Do If the Landlord Violates Rent Control Rules (59)

4. Discrimination ..... 61

Forbidden Types of Discrimination (62)
What Constitutes Discrimination? (64)
Legal Reasons to Discriminate (65)
How to Tell If a Landlord Is Discriminating (67)
Disability and Requesting Reasonable Accommodations (67)
What to Do About Discrimination (68)
Sexual Harassment by Landlords or Managers (69)

5 .Tenant’s Right to Privacy ..... 71

Permissible Reasons to Enter (72)
What to Do About a Landlord’s  Improper Entry (74)
Other Types of Invasions of Privacy (76)

6. Major Repairs & Maintenance ..... 79

Your Basic Right to Habitable Premises (80)
Your Repair and Maintenance Responsibilities (84)
Agreeing to Be Responsible for Repairs (85)
How to Get Action From Your Landlord: The Light Touch (85)
What to Do If the Landlord Won’t Make Repairs (88)

7. Minor Repairs & Maintenance ..... 99

Minor Repairs: What Are They? (100)
The Landlord’s Responsibilities (100)
Agreeing to Do Maintenance (103)
Getting the Landlord to Make Minor Repairs (104)
Your Options If the Landlord Refuses to Make a Minor Repair (106)

8. Improvements, Alterations, & Satellite Dishes .....111

Improvements That May Become Part of the Property (112)
Improving Your Rental Without Enriching Your Landlord (114)
Cable TV Access (114)
Satellite Dishes and Other Antennas (116)

9. Injuries on the Premises ..... 121

What to Do If You’re Injured (122)
Is the Landlord Liable? (125)
If You’re at Fault, Too (133)
How Much Money You’re Entitled To (133)

10. Environmental Hazards ..... 135

Duty to Disclose Presence of Environmental Hazards (137) 
Asbestos (137)
Lead (143)
Radon (151)
Carbon Monoxide (153)
Mold (154)
Bedbugs (158)

11. Crime on the Premises ..... 163

The Landlord’s Basic Duty to Keep You Safe (164) 
Problems With Other Tenants (168)
Illegal Activity on the Property and Nearby (170)
Getting Results From the Landlord (171)
Protecting Yourself (177)

12. Breaking a Lease, Subleasing, and Other Leasing Problems ...... 179

What Happens When the Lease Runs Out (180)
Subleases and Assignments (180)
Subleasing and Returning Later (181)
How to Break a Lease (181)
Belongings You Leave Behind (185)

13. Security Deposits and Last Month’s Rent ..... 187

Amount of Deposit (188)
Nonrefundable Deposits (188)
What the Deposits May Be Used For (189)
Landlord’s Duty to Return Deposits (189)
Effect of Sale of Premises on Security Deposits (191)
Effect of Foreclosure on Security Deposits (191)
May the Landlord Increase the Security Deposit? (191)
Avoiding Deposit Problems (192)
When the Landlord Won’t Return Your Deposit (192)
Rent Withholding as a Way to Get Deposits Back in Advance (195)
Interest on Security Deposits (196)
Last Month’s Rent (198)
When Your Landlord Demands More Money (198)

14. Overview of Evictions and Tenancy Terminations ..... 201

Illegal Self-Help Evictions (202)
Overview of Eviction Procedure (203)
Termination of Tenancy (204)
Notice to End a Fixed-Term Lease (204)
The Three-Day Notice Because of Nonpayment of Rent or Other Tenant Violation (204)
The 30-, 60-, or 90-Day Notice to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy (206)
Your Options After a Three-Day or 30-, 60-, or 90-Day Notice Is Served (210)
Stopping an Eviction by Filing for Bankruptcy (211)
Your Rights If Your Building Is Foreclosed Upon (212)

15. The Eviction Lawsuit ..... 21

Key Eviction Rule (217)
Where Eviction Lawsuits Are Filed (217)
The Complaint and Summons (217)
What If a Tenant Is Not Named in the Complaint? (220)
The Motion to Quash (221)
The Demurrer (229)
The Answer (238)
The Trial (247)
Setting Aside a Default Judgment (251)
Discovery: Learning About the Landlord’s Case (251)
Negotiating a Settlement (255)
Summary Judgment (258)
The Judgment (259)
Stopping an Eviction (260)
Postponing an Eviction (262)
Appeal From an Eviction (262)
After the Lawsuit—Eviction by the Sheriff or Marshal (264)

16. Renters’ Insurance ..... 269

17. Condominium Conversion ..... 271

Legal Protection for Tenants (272)
Changing the Law (274)

18. Lawyers, Legal Research, and Mediation ..... 275

Lawyers (276)
Typing Services and Unlawful Detainer Assistants (279)
Legal Research (280)
Mediation (283)


A. Rent Control Chart ..... 285

Reading Your Rent Control Ordinance (286)
Finding Municipal Codes and Rent Control Ordinances Online (287)
Rent Control Rules by California City (289)

B. How to Use the Interactive Forms on the Nolo Website ..... 323

Editing RTFs (324)
List of Forms Available on the Nolo Website (324)
Using California Judicial Council Government Forms (326)

C. Forms .... 327

Note: 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.

Landlord-Tenant Checklist
Fixed-Term Residential Lease
Month-to-Month Residential Rental Agreement Notice to Repair
Notice of Rent Withholding
Agreement Regarding Tenant Alterations to Rental Unit
Request to Waive Court Fees (a Judicial Council form)
Order on Court Fee Waiver (Superior Court) (a Judicial Council form) Prejudgment Claim of Right to Possession (a Judicial Council form)
Blank Numbered Legal Paper
Blank Numbered Legal Paper With Superior Court Heading
Proof of Service by First-Class Mail—Civil (a Judicial Council form) Attachment to Proof of Service by First-Class Mail—Civil (Persons Served) 
(a Judicial Council form)
Points and Authorities in Support of Demurrer
Notice of Hearing on Demurrer
Request for Judicial Notice
Answer—Unlawful Detainer (a Judicial Council form)
Request to Inspect and for Production of Documents
Form Interrogatories—Unlawful Detainer (a Judicial Council form) Settlement Agreement
Demand for Jury Trial
Application and Declaration for Relief From Eviction
Notice of Motion and Points and Authorities for Relief From Eviction Order Granting Relief From Eviction
Application and Declaration for Stay of Eviction
Order Granting Stay of Eviction
Notice of Appeal and Notice to Prepare Clerk’s Transcript
Claim of Right to Possession and Notice of Hearing (a Judicial Council form)
Last Updated: Oct 22, 2018
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