Renting out your home is a business, and becoming a landlords in San Jose is no easy feat. It’s your responsibility to know and adhere to California landlord-tenant laws. Any misstep can lead to a potential lawsuit and other serious offenses.

Although there is an abundant amount of questions every landlord should know the answers to, here are the three that we at Real Estate Connections feel are most important for a new landlord to know:

1. What is the length of time you have to return a security deposit?

The return of a security deposit is a very important and a touchy subject with the courts, tenants and landlords. In fact, according to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the most common disagreement between landlord and tenants is over the refund of the tenant’s security deposit.

California law states that a landlord must send an itemized statement 21 calendar days or fewer after the tenant moves, along with a refund of any amount not deducted from the security deposit.

In these situations, the longer you wait the more risk you face. If it does become an issue, the tenant may take you to small claims court where they will be able to sue you for the deposit plus 2x the deposit in damages.

2. What is the minimum amount of time that you can give notice to a tenant who has lived on the property for more than one year?

If a landlord wants to terminate a month-to-month tenancy after the tenant has lived on the property for more than one year, they can do so by properly serving a written 60-day-notice to the tenant.

Generally, a 60-day-notice doesn’t have to state the landlord’s reason for ending the tenancy; however, there are special circumstances which do require a landlord to explain their reason:

    • Some rent control cities require “just cause” for eviction, and the landlord’s notice must state the reason for termination.
    • Subsidized housing programs may limit allowable reasons for eviction, and may require that the notice state one of those reasons.
    • Some reasons for eviction are unlawful. For example, an eviction cannot be retaliatory or discriminatory.
    • A landlord cannot evict a tenant for the reason that the water heater must be braced to protect against earthquake damage.

3. What is the minimum amount of time you can give a tenant notice before entering a unit?

California law considers 24 hours’ advanced written notice to be reasonable in most situations. Although most people might already be aware of the 24 hour notice requirement, they may not know that the notice does not automatically grant you access to the property. If a tenant tells you “no,” you are not allowed to enter the unit.

However, according to the CA Department of Consumer Affairs, advance written notice is not required under any of the following circumstances:

    • To respond to an emergency.
    • The tenant has moved out or has abandoned the rental unit.
    • The tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.
    • The tenant and landlord have agreed that the landlord will make repairs or supply services, and have agreed orally that the landlord may enter to make the repairs or supply the services. The agreement must include the date and approximate time of entry, which must be within one week of the oral agreement.

Make it your due diligence to know the landlord-tenant laws in California. Contact your local Santa Clara County property manager for further explanations to ensure you don’t end up in a potentially bad situation, both legally and financially.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.