New Rental Laws in California

By PropertyClub Team
Mar 4th 2024
California recently passed new rental laws that offer tenants and landlords many new protections. While not all of the state's efforts to reform rental laws have been successful, several bills have been passed, and the new rental laws will take effect on July 1, 2024. Here are a few of the most important changes.

hash-markNew Limit on Security Deposits

Beginning on July 1, 2024, landlords cannot charge an amount that exceeds one month's rent for a security deposit, regardless of whether the unit is furnished or unfurnished. There is an exception to this rule that allows certain small landlords to charge up to two months' rent as a security deposit. To qualify for the exemption, the landlord can't own more than two rental properties comprising four units and must be a natural person or LLC in which all members are natural persons.

hash-markTrespass Letters Now Valid for 12 Months

SB 602 is a new law that offers added protections for landlords dealing with trespassers. Under California law, landlords who are having issues with unwanted visitors on their property can submit a 'no trespass' letter (also known as a 602 letter). While the 602 letter is in effect, trespassers can be removed by local law enforcement. Previously, the letter would expire after 30 days, but the new modified law allows landlords to keep the 602-letter active for up to 12 months. 

hash-markMicro-mobility Devices May be Stored in the Unit

Landlords are now prevented from prohibiting tenants from storing micro-mobility devices such as e-bikes and scooters in their apartments. The devices must have batteries that are approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. If the device does not have approved batteries, the landlord can require the tenant to take out an insurance policy or refrain from charging the batteries in the unit. Alternatively, the landlord can also offer long-term, secure storage outside the unit if they don't want the device inside the apartment.  

hash-markChanges to Just Cause Evictions

An amendment to the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 has new guidelines for just cause evictions. A just cause eviction is when a landlord wishes to end the tenancy because they or a close family member wants to inhabit the unit. The new law requires specific notices to the tenant and stiffer penalties for landlords who break the rules.

hash-markNew Rights for Disabled Tenants in Rent-Controlled Apartments

In local jurisdictions that have rent control, tenants suffering from a permanent disability may request to relocate to an equal-sized or smaller unit on an accessible floor in the same building without having to pay a higher rent.

This new law only impacts tenants in rent-controlled units that:

  • Have a permanent, mobility-related disability
  • Live in a unit that is not serviced by an operational elevator
  • Are not being evicted for non-payment of rent
  • Live in a jurisdiction that has opted into AB 1620 of the Costa Hawkins Rental Housing Act 

hash-markTenant Screening Fees Via Email

Landlords and tenants can now agree to use email as a means of conveying a screening fee receipt as long as they both consent and the applicant is willing to provide an email address. Previously, landlords were required to send it in the mail or deliver it in person.  

Landlords Must Offer "Ability to Pay' in lieu of Credit Checks for Tenants Using a Government Subsidy.

SB 267 is putting new restrictions on the use of credit history checks as a way of screening applicants who are receiving a government subsidy such as Section 8. Landlords who are willing to accept the subsidy can't screen a tenant's credit history as part of the application process unless they're willing to also accept alternative evidence of a person's ability to repay.

Proof of ability to pay may be provided in the form of government benefits payments, bank statements, or other payment records. The new law only applies to tenants using a government subsidy, and the landlord can still request documentation to prove employment, request references from previous landlords, or run a background check.

hash-markProhibition on Crime-Free Housing Programs

AB1418 is a new law that is cracking down on "crime-free housing programs" enacted by local governments. The law makes it illegal to put restrictions on landlords who choose not to discriminate against tenants with a past criminal conviction. AB1418 prevents local governments from:

  • Forcing landlords to run criminal background checks on tenants
  • Allowing alleged criminal behavior without a felony conviction to be cause for an eviction
  • Defining nuisance behavior as calling the police or anything that falls outside of the state definition of a nuisance
  • Requiring lease provisions on evictions be expanded beyond what is already included in state law

The new law also has several protections for tenants who have either had contact with a law enforcement agency or associated with someone who has. However, the laws only impact local governments and do not impact individual landlords. 

Landlords are still permitted to run a criminal background check if they so choose, as long as it's performed within the parameters of state and federal law. Landlords can also choose to evict a tenant if they are engaging in criminal activity or causing a nuisance, according to existing state law.

hash-markNew California Rental Laws Bottom Line

Most of the new California rental laws only impact certain landlords or tenants in specific circumstances. So, if you own a rental property or you're a tenant in search of a new place to live, don't expect much to change. But it's important to be aware of the new laws in case you find yourself in a scenario where you may be impacted.