FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
How much can my landlord legally raise my rent?
Under California Law there is currently no maximum limit a landlord can raise the rent. As of January 1, 2001, your landlord must give you at least 30days’ advance notice if the rent increase is 10% (or less) of the rent charged at anytime during the 12 months before the rent increase takes effect. Your landlord must give you 60 days’ advance notice if the rent increase is greater than 10% (Civil Code Section 827b). Buildings under rent control in cities such as City of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills and West Hollywood, fall under different rules. For example, in Los Angeles, owners of buildings that fall under rent control can only raise the rent 3% per year. Landlords can raise the rente one additional percent (1%) for gas and/or one percent (1%) for electricity when the Landlord pays all the costs of either of these services for the tenant.
When can my landlord enter my rental unit?
California laws state (5) reasons a landlord is able to enter your unit.
a) In an emergency
b) When the tenant has moved out or had abandoned the rental unit
c) To make necessary or agreed-upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements
d) To show the rental unit to prospective tenants, buyers or lenders, or to provide entry to contractors or workers who are to perform work on the unit
Except in the first two situations above (emergencies or abandonment), the landlord must give the reasonable advance notice (verbally or in writing) before entering your unit. Effective January 1, 2003, landlords will be required to provide a written notice prior to entering a dwelling unit. (Civil Code Section 1954)
What is rent control?
Rent control ordinances limit or prohibit rent increase and notices to vacate tenancy. Some California cities have local ordinances but each community’s ordinance is different. As stated above, in the City of Los Angeles, rent increases are limited to a certain percentage each year. Also, som rent control ordinances allow landlords to evict tenants for “just cause”. This means the landlord must state and provide a valid reason for terminating a month-to-month tenancy. In California, the cities that have rent control are City of Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, West Hollywood, Santa Monica, Berkeley, Campbell, East Palo Alto, Fremont, Hayward, Los Gatos, Oakland, Palm Springs, San Francisco, San Jose and Thousand Oaks.
How do I know I have been a victim of housing discrimination?
Unlawful housing discrimination can take a variety of forms. Under California’s Fair Housing Employment and Housing Act, it is unlawful for a landlord, managing agent, real estate broker or salesperson to discriminate against any person because of the person’s race, color, religion, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income or physical or mental disability. Basically, if you are being denied housing because of your personal characteristics you may be a victim of housing discrimination.
I have a policy of charging new tenants a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. If a tenant has children, I add $50 extra per child to the security deposit since kids usually cause more damage than normal. Is this legal?
No. A landlord cannot require a higher security deposit or damage deposit from people who have minor children than from people without minor children. According to the California Supreme Court in Wolfson and the Federal Fair Housing Laws amended in 1988, it is unlawful to set deposits based on the stereotype that children as a class cause more damage to property than others.
I recently found out that the on-site manager of the building I own has been harrassing the female tenants. Am I legally liable for this?
Yes. As the owner of the building, you are legally responsible for the actions of your management personnel, maintenance staff and any other agents you employ. Under both federal and state fair housing laws, sexual harassment of tenants is illegal.