California law details certain requirements landlords must adhere to when a tenant vacates a rental unit. If a landlord fails to abide by these laws, there can be serious legal repercussions. If you are a California landlord, be sure to review these important requirements before your tenant vacates your rental unit.
Landlord Notice to End Tenancy
A landlord has legal options when it comes to ending a tenancy. For example, if a tenant is renting month-to-month a landlord can force the tenant to move out by giving the tenant proper advance written notice. However, there are certain requirements a landlord must follow depending on the type of lease they have agreed to. For example, if a tenancy has lasted for a year or more the landlord must give 60 days written notice.
Other tenancy situations call for less notice time. For example, the landlord must give 30 days advance written notice if:
- A tenant has lived in the rental unit less than one year
- The landlord has contracted to sell the rental unit to someone who intends to occupy it for at least a year.
The law usually does not require a landlord to state a reason for ending the tenancy when giving a 30-day or 60-day notice. The landlord also has the option of serving a 30-day or 60-day notice by certified mail or by the California Code’s “Proper Service of Notices” list.
Refund of the Security Deposit
The most common disagreement between a tenant and a landlord is over the refund of the tenant’s security deposit once he or she has moved out of the rental unit. California law specifies specific procedures that the landlord must follow when using or refunding a tenant’s security deposit.
California law allows the landlord to use a tenant’s security deposit for four specific purposes including:
- For unpaid rent
- For cleaning the rental unit after the tenant moves out, but only to make it as clean as it was when the tenant moved in
- For repair of damages, aside from normal wear and tear, that was caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests
- If the lease or rental agreement states it, for the cost of restoring or even replacing furniture or other property outside of normal wear and tear
Though a landlord can withhold a portion of the security deposit, they can only withhold amounts that are reasonably necessary for the specified purposes. It is important to note that the security deposit cannot be used to repair defects that existed before the tenant moved in or for conditions that are caused by normal wear and tear during a tenancy. A rental agreement or lease can also never state that a security deposit is “nonrefundable.”
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