Janet Portman


Janet Portman joined Nolo in 1994 and is the Executive Editor. She has a Bachelor’s degree (Honors Humanities, Phi Beta Kappa) and Master’s degree (Religious Studies) from Stanford University, and a law degree from Santa Clara University of Law. Her first job was with the California State Public Defender, where she handled criminal appeals for indigent clients and spent six months trying cases for the Alameda County Public Defender. She successfully argued a case before the California Supreme Court. (People v. Woodard, 23 Cal.3d 329 (1979).) Janet is an active member of the California State Bar.

Work at Nolo. After taking some time away from the law to raise her family, Janet joined Nolo as part of the team writing the company’s first national landlord-tenant book, Every Landlord’s Legal Guide. She has authored or coauthored many books since then: Every Landlord's Guide to Finding Great Tenants, Every Tenant's Legal Guide, Renters' Rights, Negotiate the Best Lease for Your Business, Leases & Rental Agreements, The California Landlord's Law Book: Rights and Responsibilities, and California Tenants' Rights.  Drawing on her days as a “PD,” Janet also contributes to the criminal law sections of Nolo’s websites.

Janet has contributed commentary to major media outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, Kiplinger’s, and The New York Times. For many years she was a nationally-syndicated columnist, writing “Rent It Right” every week.

Why Nolo? Joining Nolo was a natural next step after the public defender’s office. Janet went from helping indigent criminal defendants to educating people about everyday civil law—how to understand it, apply it, and stay away from entanglements in the court system. She takes pride in writing books for both landlords and tenants, without bias. The best compliment she ever received came from a landlord who, having read Every Tenant's Legal Guide, said, “I wish all my tenants would read this—I’d have way fewer problems!”

Articles By Janet Portman

What Do Uber and Lyft Drivers Need to Know About Car Insurance?
You're required to have your own auto insurance as a rideshare driver, but will Uber’s or Lyft's insurance also protect you?
Legal Aid and Pro Bono Representation and How to Find It
Learn about legal aid and pro bono representation, the difference between them, and how to find these types of free legal help.
Choosing Tenants: Avoid Fair Housing Complaints and Lawsuits
Antidiscrimination laws limit the tenants you can accept and reject.
How Landlords Can Check a Tenant's Credit Report
Private credit reporting agencies collect and sell credit files and other information about consumers.
HUD Guidance Memo on Landlords' Use of Arrest and Conviction Records
Whether and how landlords can use information from an existing or prospective tenant’s criminal history was the subject of an April 3, 2016 “guidance” memo from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
Tenant Rights Against Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity Discrimination
Know your rights when a landlord won't rent to you because you are gay, lesbian, or transgender.
California Law on Tenant Application Screening Fees and Credit Reports
California law places a limit on how much a landlord can charge for rental application and screening fees.
State Laws on Unconditional Quit Terminations
State rules on when a landlord can order a tenant to move out on short notice.
Mold in Rentals: Landlord Liability, Responsibility, and Prevention
Learn about mold in rental units: Your landlord's liability for mold problems, how to get rid of mold, and how to prevent mold in the first place.
Asbestos Hazards and Seller Disclosures
Home sellers are responsible for informing prospective buyers about environmental hazards, such as asbestos.