The lease or rental agreement should spell out the key terms of the tenancy, including:
State laws, along with city and county ordinances, in California cover several of these rent-related issues, including limits on late fees, the amount of notice a landlord must provide to increase rent under a month-to-month tenancy, and how much time a tenant has to pay rent or move before a landlord can file for eviction.
Rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease or rental agreement (usually the first of the month). If a tenant does not pay rent when it is due, the landlord may begin charging a late fee. Under California law, a late fee will be enforced only if the fee is a reasonable estimate of the amount that the lateness of the payment will cost the landlord, and if specified language is include in a written lease or rental agreement.
California allows landlords to charge $25 for the first bounced check, and $35 for each additional bounced check.
California landlords must give tenants at least 30 days’ notice—unless the sum of this rent increase and all prior rent increases during the previous 12 months is more than 10% of the lowest rent charged during that time. In the latter case, the landlord must give the tenant 60 days’ notice. Note that different rules might apply to properties subject to rent control laws or ordinances.
California landlords may not raise the rent in a discriminatory manner—for example, only for members of a certain race. Also, California landlords may not use a rent increase in retaliation for exercising a legal right—for example, in response to a tenant's legitimate complaint to a local housing agency about a broken heater.
States set specific rules and procedures for ending a tenancy when a tenant has not paid the rent. California landlords must give tenants at least three days in which to pay the rent or move. If the tenant does neither, the landlord can file for eviction.
As of January 1, 2020, California has statewide rent control. Cities and counties in California may also establish their own local rent control rules and regulations.
Read Nolo's article Updates on California Rent Control for the latest updates on local rent control ordinances.
Here’s where to find California state law relevant to rent rules:
See the Laws and Legal Research section of Nolo for advice on finding and reading statutes and court decisions.
For a detailed discussion of rent control and rent rules, eviction protection, and other landlord-tenant law in California, see the Nolo book California Tenants’ Rights, by Janet Portman and J. Scott Weaver.