New landlord-tenant laws |

New landlord-tenant laws

California renters were successful in having several new laws passed in this last session – all effective Jan. 1, 2003.


Owners of residential dwellings must give notice to a renter to terminate the tenancy at least 60 (rather than 30) days if the renter has resided in the dwelling for less than one year.

The tenant of a month-to-month rental agreement need only give the usual 30-day notice of termination. The new longer notice does not apply when tenants are in default under their leases, such as failing to pay rent.

The usual notice in that case is three days.

However, the owner may give 30 days notice of termination if the owner has contracted to sell the residential unit and an escrow has been opened, the notice is given within 120 days after the escrow has been opened and the would-be purchaser intends to reside in the property for at least a year.

The 60-day notice law expires Jan. 1, 2006. It will probably be extended.


Landlords have the right to enter residential units in the following cases: an emergency, to make necessary or agreed repairs or improvements, to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers or contractors, or when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises, or pursuant to court order. (Next week we will profile a landlord’s new right/duty of entry for inspection).

Except in the case of an emergency or when the renter has abandoned the rental property, entry must be during normal business hours unless the tenant consents at the time of entry.

It used to be that verbal notice to the tenant would suffice. Now except in cases of emergency or when the tenant has abandoned, the landlord must give the tenant reasonable notice in writing of intent to enter – personally delivered to the tenant, left with someone of a suitable age and discretion at the premises, or left on or near the usual entry door.

Twenty-four hours is presumed reasonable notice.

Mailing of the notice at least six days in advance is presumed reasonable.

If the purpose of the entry is to show the unit to a prospective or actual purchaser the notice may be given orally if the landlord gave the tenant prior written notice within 120 days that the property is for sale and that the owner or agent may later contact the tenant verbally to gain access.

Again, 24 hours is presumed reasonable. At the time of entry the landlord or agent must leave written evidence of entry inside the unit.

Next week we will brief a controversial new law governing residential security deposits.

Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter-Simon, with offices in Truckee, South Lake Tahoe and Reno.

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