Tenant Protection Act
What is the California Tenant Protection Act?
Assembly Bill (AB) 1482 is known as the “California Tenant Protection Act of 2019,” which created significant new protections for tenants. Click here to view the text of AB 1482. Both tenants and landlords should be aware of the requirements of this new law.
Statewide law that goes into effect on January 1, 2020, and expires on January 1, 2030.
Requires a landlord to have a “just cause” in order to terminate a tenancy.
Limits annual rent increases to no more than 5% + local CPI (CPI = inflation rate), or 10% whichever is lower.
A tenant may not waive their rights to these protections and any agreement to do so by the tenant is void as contrary to public policy.
If a unit is already covered by a City of Redlands rent increase regulation (such as a mobilehome development), the unit remains subject to those local regulations and the statewide law does not remove or replace those tenant protections. Please refer to Chapter 5.48 (Rent Stabilization for Mobilehome Parks) of the Redlands Municipal Code for further information.
Since AB 1482 can only be enforced in State court, tenants may also want to consider contacting an attorney or a local tenant advocacy organization (such as the Inland Fair Housing Mediation Board) for assistance with exercising their rights in court.
I. Limits on Rent Increases
The Tenant Protection Act caps rent increases for most tenants in California. Landlords cannot raise rent more than 10% total or 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living – whichever is lower – over a 12-month period. If the tenants of a unit move out and new tenants move in, the landlord may establish the initial rent to charge. (Civ. Code § 1947.12.) The percentage change in the cost of living for most areas can be found on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website here.
In addition to the statewide limit, local rent control laws may further restrict how much a landlord can increase rent annually. For tenants and landlords of mobilehome parks in Redlands, refer to Chapter 5.48 (Rent Stabilization for Mobilehome Parks) of the Redlands Municipal Code for further information.
II. Just-Cause Eviction Requirement
The Tenant Protection Act also creates new statewide eviction protections for most tenants who have been living in their units for at least a year. The law sets out two kinds of evictions: “at fault” evictions (where the landlord moves to evict the tenant where the tenant is allegedly “at fault”) and “no fault” evictions (where the landlord moves to evict the tenant through “no fault” of the tenant). (Civ. Code § 1946.2.)
“At fault” evictions include:
Nonpayment of rent
Breach of a material term of the lease
Nuisance, waste, or using the unit for unlawful purposes
Criminal activity on the premises or criminal activity off the premises directed at the owner or agent
Refusal to allow lawful entry
Refusal to execute a new lease containing similar terms
“No fault” evictions include:
Intent to demolish or substantially remodel the unit
Withdrawal of the unit from the rental market
The owner complying with a government order or local law that requires the tenant to leave
Landlords can only evict a tenant for one of the reasons listed above. Some of these reasons have their own specific requirements. For instance:
Owner Move-In: Any landlord planning an owner move-in or a relative move-in for their rental unit must act truthfully and in good faith and only proceed in circumstances that comply with all state and local requirements. These requirements often include restrictions on the window of time a landlord has to move in after an eviction, and the length of time that the owner intends live in the rental in order to qualify as a valid owner move-in.
Substantial Remodel: Similarly, landlords must act truthfully when evicting a tenant to conduct a substantial remodel of a unit, as not all repairs meet the definition of “substantial remodel.” To be a “substantial remodel,” the landlord must plan to replace or substantially modify something in the unit in a way that requires a permit. In addition, it must not be possible to do the work in a safe manner with tenants in the unit, and it must take more than 30 days to do the work. Cosmetic renovations do not count. Please also be aware that there may be special protections for protected groups such as senior tenants.
Lying about the reason for evicting a tenant is illegal, and tenants with concerns about the legitimacy their eviction should consult an attorney.
III. Who These Protections Apply To
The Tenant Protection Act applies to ALL rental units in the State except:
Single-family homes not owned or controlled by a corporation (the Act does apply to single-family homes owned or controlled by a corporation)
Units covered by a local rent control ordinance that is more protective than the Tenant Protection Act (see RMC Chapter 5.48 for rent stabilization in mobilehome parks located in Redlands).
Units constructed in the past 15 years (this is a rolling timeline, so tenants will gain protection once their building turns 15)
Mobile homes (see RMC Chapter 5.48 for rent stabilization in mobilehome parks located in Redlands).
Duplexes where the owner is living in one of the units at the time the tenant moves into the other unit, but only as long as the owner continues to live there
Housing that is restricted as affordable housing by deed, government agency agreement, or other recorded document, or that is subject to an agreement that provides housing subsidies for affordable housing
The Tenant Protection Act applies to recipients of Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers. It includes a narrow exception for housing that is restricted as affordable housing by deed, government agency agreement, or other recorded document, or that is subject to an agreement that provides housing subsidies for affordable housing. (Civ. Code § 1946.2, subd. (e)(9).) Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers help tenants pay for market-rate housing that owners/operators offer to the general public at market-rate rents, not for affordable housing as referenced in the Act. Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers also apply to specific tenancies, not to the housing itself. Market-rate tenancies subsidized by Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers are therefore not exempt from the Act’s protections.
IV. Additional Topics Affecting Landlords and Tenants
Landlords and those who act on their behalf (such as property managers, realtors, and attorneys) are responsible for complying with all state and local laws, including the following important points. Tenants should also read the below so they understand their rights as renters.
Landlords are responsible by law for keeping tenants’ units safe and well-maintained. This is known as habitability. This includes things like providing safe and working plumbing, heating, electrical equipment, floors, and stairs; effective waterproofing; windows and doors with working locks; and keeping the property free from roaches, rats, and other vermin. (Civil Code § 1941.1.) Even if tenants knew that their unit was not up to these standards when they moved in, it is still the landlord’s responsibility to make all units habitable. Additionally:
Tenants with health or safety issues in their homes have a right to ask their landlords to make repairs. Tenants should make repair requests and complaints about unsafe or unhealthy conditions in writing. Tenants should document issues by text messages, emails, letters, and certified mail, and also by videos and photos. Tenants should keep a copy of any communications they have with their landlord.
If a landlord refuses to make repairs, tenants should contact their local code enforcement office or local health department. Cities or counties may also have their own rent board or rent control program that deals with building health and safety.
If a tenant living in a unit with health or safety issues is served with an eviction notice, it is very important for the tenant to inform a lawyer or the court about those health and safety issues. Doing so may help the tenant’s defense or affect the landlord’s right to evict the tenant. (Civ. Code §§ 1942.3, 1942.4.)
Tenants have an obligation to keep their units clean and sanitary, to use appliances and fixtures as intended, and to avoid damaging the unit. If tenants cause damage to the unit, they are responsible for repairing it.
Notice of Rent Increases
When raising a tenant’s rent, landlords must deliver the tenant a formal written notice of the change. It is not enough for a landlord to call, text, or email that they plan on raising the rent. Landlords must also give tenants sufficient warning before increasing rent.
- If the rent increase is less than 10%, landlords must provide notice 30 days before the increase can take effect.
- If the rent increase is more than 10%, the landlord must provide notice 90 days before it can take effect. (Civ. Code § 827).
- If a notice is not in writing or delivered on time, a tenant should consult a lawyer about their rights.
It is illegal to try to “evict” a tenant by locking them out, shutting off the water or electricity, or removing their personal property. The only lawful way to evict a tenant is to file a case in court and go through the legal process. A tenant who has been locked out should consult a lawyer about their rights, including returning to their unit and getting damages from the landlord. (Civ. Code § 789.3.)
Landlords must return a tenant’s security deposit upon move-out except for amounts deducted for lawful purposes. Lawful purposes include unpaid rent, cleaning, repair of damage caused by the tenant beyond normal wear and tear, and in some cases, replacing furnishings. Landlords have 21 days from a tenant’s move-out to issue a full refund of the security deposit or to provide a statement explaining any deductions along with the remainder of the security deposit and any receipts. (Civ. Code §1950.5.)
Landlords may not retaliate against tenants for exercising their rights. For example, it is against the law for a landlord to try to evict a tenant who has asked for repairs or pointed out that a rent increase is unlawful, or to take away services or rights that the tenant previously enjoyed, like a storage space or parking. (Civ. Code § 1942.5.)
Tenants with disabilities must receive reasonable accommodations to allow them the use and enjoyment of their unit. Specifically:
- Reasonable accommodations may involve adjusting certain policies in a way that helps a person with a disability have equal access to housing. For example, a landlord is permitted to have a “no pets” policy, but must make a reasonable accommodation for a tenant with a service animal by waiving the “no pets” policy for that tenant.
- Landlords cannot charge tenants the cost of offering a reasonable accommodation.
- Additionally, landlords must allow tenants with disabilities to make reasonable physical modifications to the unit so that they have “full enjoyment of the premises.” In most situations, tenants are responsible for covering the costs of the reasonable modification.
- If a tenant with a disability is being denied or charged for a reasonable accommodation, they should contact an attorney.
Landlords are prohibited from discriminating against tenants based on the tenant’s race, national origin, religion, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender expression, gender identity, ancestry, disability status, marital status, familial status, source of income (Section 8 vouchers, for example), veteran status, or certain other characteristics.
- Additionally, private housing providers are prohibited from discriminating against tenants on the basis of citizenship, immigration status, primary language, age, medical condition, or any other arbitrary personal characteristic.
- Discrimination may take many different forms, but can include refusing to rent to a certain tenant, providing a tenant with less favorable rental terms, targeting certain tenants for eviction, or more.
- In most cases, landlords are not allowed to ask a tenant or prospective tenant their immigration or citizenship status. Landlords are never allowed to threaten to disclose a tenant or occupant’s immigration status in order to pressure a tenant to move out. Landlords are also never allowed to harass or retaliate against a tenant by disclosing their immigration status to law enforcement.
- If a tenant has concerns that they are being treated unfairly on the basis of a protected characteristic, they should consult a lawyer.
Getting Legal Help
If you are a tenant facing an eviction, struggling to pay rent, or otherwise concerned about your ability to stay in your unit, free or low-cost legal help may be available. To find a legal aid office near where you live, please visit www.LawHelpCA.org. If you don’t qualify for legal aid, you may obtain a referral to a certified lawyer referral service from the California State Bar. If you are unable to find legal assistance, consult the California Court’s self-help resources (click here) for tenants facing evictions.
Other assistance may also be available from the Inland Fair Housing Mediation Board.