No, in most cases, a landlord cannot tell you via verbal communication, text or email that your tenancy is being terminated. Usually, a landlord must provide the tenant with a formal written notice of a termination of tenancy, but there are some exceptions explained below.
3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit:
This notice informs the tenant that the tenant has three days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Judicial Holidays) to pay the rent in full or vacate the property. If the tenant fails to pay rent and fails to vacate, then the landlord may file an Unlawful Detainer (eviction) lawsuit after the Notice has expired. Once the Notice has expired, the landlord is not obligated to accept the rent, even if offered in full.
3 Day Notice to Cure Lease Covenant or Quit:
If the tenant violates (breaches) the lease agreement by engaging in prohibited conduct or by failing to abide by another covenant in the lease, the landlord can serve the tenant with a Three-Day Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit. If a tenant is served with this type of notice, the tenant will have three days (excluding Saturdays, Sundays, and Judicial holidays) to either cure (correct) the violation or move out. If the tenant fails to correct the alleged violation within the three-day period and fails to vacate after the notice expires, then the landlord can file an eviction lawsuit.
3 Day Notice to Quit:
When a tenant commits a serious violation of the lease or engages in conduct that cannot be cured or corrected, the landlord can serve the tenant with a Three-Day Notice to Quit without any opportunity to cure the breach. If the tenant fails to move out within the three-day period, the landlord can file the Unlawful Detainer (eviction) lawsuit. The duration of the Three-Day Notice to Quit is 3 Calendar days and includes weekends and court holidays.
30 Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy:
If a tenant has a month-to-month rental agreement and has lived in the rental unit for less than one year, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written 30-day notice to terminate the tenancy.
60 Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy:
If the tenancy is not covered under the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, and the tenant has lived in the rental unit for more than one year, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written 60-day notice to terminate tenancy.
Unless the tenancy is covered by the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the landlord is not required to provide a reason for the termination of the tenancy but cannot terminate the tenancy to retaliate or discriminate against the tenant. In addition, the 60-day notice must include statutory language regarding the tenant’s right to reclaim abandoned property.
If the tenancy is covered under the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the landlord must serve the tenant with a written 60-day notice to terminate tenancy with a “Just Cause” reason for the eviction. If the just cause is a “no-fault” just cause, the landlord must provide the tenant with relocation fees equal to one month’s rent.
A tenant who resides in a home where all tenants have lived there for at least 12 months, or at least one tenant has lived there for 24 months when additional adult tenants have been added to the lease. Applies to multi-family buildings older than 15 years, homes owned by corporations (LLC), and duplexes where the landlord does not reside in one of the units.
The following properties are exempt from the Tenant Protection Act of 2019:
Housing that has been issued a certificate of occupancy within the previous 15 years; Duplexes where the owner resides in one of the units; Dormitories; Affordable housing subject to deed restriction; Mobile Homes; Most single family homes, unless owned by a corporation, or if the single family homeowner notifies the tenant the property is exempt from the Act.
For properties covered under the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, the landlord must provide a reason, or “just cause” for the termination of tenancy. The just cause can be an “at-fault” just cause, or “no-fault” just cause.
If the rental property is subject to the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 and the tenant has lived in the property for 12 months or more, the landlord cannot refuse to renew the lease without just cause.
The California Civil Code cites eleven at-fault just causes the landlord can use as the basis of an eviction if the landlord believes the tenant committed a violation of the lease or refused to renew a written lease for the similar terms and duration as the expiring lease.
The California Civil Code cites four no-fault just cause reasons that a landlord can rely upon to terminate a tenancy. The no-fault just causes include the move-in of the owner or their relatives, removing the property from the rental market, compliance with government orders or ordinances, and intent to demolish or substantially remodel the property.
Effective, April 1, 2024, there are more stringent requirements for the landlord who bases an eviction on family member move in, property removal from rental market, or substantial remodeling.
For tenancies with a fixed end date (such as a 6-month lease), the landlord cannot terminate the lease until the end of the lease term, absent some lease violation or non-payment of rent. The landlord does not need to serve the tenant with a notice to move out at the end of the lease term unless the lease specifically requires it. This is because the landlord and tenant agreed upon a specific termination date of the tenancy when the lease agreement was created. The landlord can file an Unlawful Detainer action the day after the written fixed-term lease expires.
After the initial fixed term of the lease has expired and you are a month-to-month tenant, the landlord is required to serve you with a 90 Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy. The notice must state good cause to terminate the tenancy under federal law and a copy of the notice must be served on the local Housing Authority at the time it is served on the tenant.
If a Section 8 tenant is overdue on the rent, or has violated the lease in some manner, the duration of the termination notice can be less than 90 days (about 3 months) depending upon the reason for the termination.
A tenant who lives with another party where there is no lease agreement that requires the tenant to pay rent is considered a Tenant at Will. A Tenant at Will is relative, guest, partner, friend, or other party who lives in the premises rent-free with the permission of the owner. The property owner must serve a 30-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy to a Tenant at Will if the owner wants to evict the tenant. A Tenant at Will is not entitled to any of the protections of the Tenant Protection Act of 2019.
Eviction – Unlawful Detainer Complaint Court Process
If the termination of tenancy notice expires or is not “cured” your landlord may file an unlawful detainer complaint (lawsuit) against you to recover possession of the property. After you have been served with the unlawful detainer complaint, you will have 5 court days to file your response with the court. The 5-day answer period does not include weekends and court holidays.
The most common filing is an “Answer.” This is your response to the unlawful detainer complaint and where you would raise defenses.
If you do not file a response to the unlawful detainer complaint before the 5 days expire, Plaintiff (landlord) can request a “default judgment.” If the court grants the request for default judgment, the judgment will be entered for Plaintiff. After a default judgment is entered for Plaintiff, you will not be allowed to file an Answer, and soon after the judgment, Sheriff’s will visit your premises to ensure that you move out. The Sheriff is authorized to remove occupants from the premises after an unlawful detainer judgment against a tenant.
If the court has accepted your answer, the next step is for the case to be set for trial. You may receive a courtesy notice from the court informing you of the trial date. ICLS recommends you periodically call the court to determine if a trial date has been set.
The unlawful detainer court will not determine the disposition of Security Deposits. Please see the section below regarding Security Deposits.
No. If the landlord wishes to raise the rent, the landlord must provide the tenant with a formal written notice of the rent increase. For proposed rent increases of less than 10%, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing at least 30 days before the increase goes into effect. If the rent increase is greater than 10%, the landlord must notify the tenant in writing at least 90 days before the increase goes into effect
Under California law, landlords with properties that are exempt from the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 can raise the rent as often as they desire, and for any amount they desire, if they serve the proper notice of increase within the appropriate time period. But local city rent control ordinances may apply.
For tenancies protected by the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, California law caps rent increases for many tenants in California. Landlords cannot raise rent more than 10% total, or 5% plus the percentage change in the cost of living according to the Consumer Price Index – whichever is lower – over a 12-month period.
In addition to the Tenant Protection Act of 2019 rent increase limit, local rent control laws may restrict how much a landlord can increase rent annually.
For tenancies protected by the Tenant Protection Act of 2019, a landlord can raise the rent no more than twice over a 12-month period: the total amount of the increases over the 12 month period cannot exceed the rent increase cap of 10%.
Current law allows a landlord to charge a Security Deposit equal to the value of two months’ worth of rent for an unfurnished unit, and equal to the value of 3 months’ of worth of rent for a furnished unit. The Security Deposit can be in addition to the first month’s rent.
Effective July 1, 2024, many landlords are limited to charging one month of rental value, plus the first months’ rent. Landlords who are natural persons and own less than 4 rental units may charge a Security Deposit equal to the first two months’ rent, plus the first months’ rent. Additionally, effective July 1, 2024, landlords cannot charge service members an amount greater than the value of 1 months’ rent, plus the first month rent regardless of the landlord’s status as a natural person.
A landlord can use the Security Deposit as compensation for unpaid rent, damages beyond ordinary wear and tear, and cleaning the rental unit to return it to the state it was in before you moved in. If the landlord deducts more than $125.00 from your security deposit, they must provide a bill and receipts to document charges, including their labor and material costs. A landlord is also required to notify the tenant of their right to a walk-through of the unit no less than 2 weeks before the tenant vacates the unit.
The landlord must provide the tenant with a written statement accounting for deductions from the Security Deposit within 21 days after the tenant vacates the premises.
Yes. A landlord is responsible for maintaining the rental unit in a condition fit for human occupation. California law deems a dwelling untenantable if it substantially lacks effective waterproofing and weatherproofing; plumbing or gas supplies that conform to code; hot and cold running water supplies that conform to code; electrical wiring and lighting that conform to code; clean and sanitary property free from insects and vermin; trash and garbage receptacles; floors and stair ways in good repair.
A landlord is not responsible for damages or defects caused by tenant neglect, abuse or improper use of the premises.
Early Lease Terminations
Absent some agreement between the landlord and tenant, a tenant is responsible for the full amount of rent due during the entire term of the lease period. If you move out before the end of the lease period, you could be responsible for the balance of the rent owed for the amount of time remaining on the lease. If you do move out early, the landlord must attempt to rent out your former unit, which could offset the amount you owe for remaining period of the lease.
A tenant may be able to terminate a lease early due to Domestic Violence or crimes against the tenant or an immediate family member. The tenant must notify the landlord of the early lease termination with at least 14 days written notice. A tenant who terminates a lease early due to Domestic Violence or other crimes is responsible for 14 days of rent after giving the termination notice to the landlord. The tenant must provide supporting documentation of the Domestic Violence or crime through a Restraining Order, Police Report or Qualified Third Party. The tenant’s termination notice to the landlord must be served within 180 days of the Domestic Violence or crime, or creation of the Restraining Order, Police Report, or report from a Qualified Third Party.
Landlord entry to rental unit and harassment
The landlord may enter the unit under the following circumstances: in case of emergency; to make repairs; to make an inspection; to show the unit to prospective purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors; when the tenant has abandoned the premises; pursuant court order, or compliance with other state law. The landlord must give at least 24 hours advance written notice of entry, if personally delivered to the tenant, or 6 days advance notice if the notice mailed to the tenant. The landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant.
A tenant is entitled to the quiet enjoyment and possession of the rental property, and to be free from intrusions of their possession of the property by others. A landlord may not use or threaten to use force or menacing conduct that interferes with a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the premises in order to influence a tenant to vacate the premises.
This information applies to residential landlord tenant matters and does not apply to commercial/business tenancies. The information does not constitute legal advice or create an attorney client relationship.
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