California Notice Requirements to Terminate a Month-to-Month Tenancy

California laws for ending month-to-month tenancies are simple until the tenant has lived at the property for 12 months or longer.

By , Attorney

To end the tenancy of a month-to-month renter in California, the landlord must give the renter the amount of notice required under state law. Landlords must also pay close attention to California's rent control laws—in some situations, landlords must have "just cause"—a good reason—to end a month-to-month tenancy. And, it's not just landlords who have to follow certain rules to end a month-to-month tenancy: California tenants also must follow state law when ending a month-to-month tenancy.

Notice Requirements for California Landlords

How—and whether—a landlord can end a month-to-month tenancy in California depends on the length of time the tenant has lived in the property.

Notice When a Tenant Has Lived in a Rental for Less Than 12 Months

When a month-to-month tenant has lived in a rental property for less than 12 months, the landlord can terminate the tenancy by giving at least 30 days' notice. The only exception to the 30 days' notice requirement is if the parties agreed to a shorter notice period (but the notice period can't be less than 7 days). Notice must be written, and must be given to the tenant personally or sent by certified or registered mail. The notice must also contain the following statement:

"State law permits former tenants to reclaim abandoned personal property left at the former address of the tenant, subject to certain conditions. You may or may not be able to reclaim property without incurring additional costs, depending on the cost of storing the property and the length of time before it is reclaimed. In general, these costs will be lower the sooner you contact your former landlord after being notified that property belonging to you was left behind after you moved out."

(Cal. Civ. Code § 1946 (2022).)

Notice When a Tenant Has Lived in a Rental for 12 Months or Longer

When a month-to-month tenant has lived in the rental for 12 continuous months or longer, it becomes much more difficult for a landlord to terminate the tenancy. California landlords can't end the tenancy in this situation without "just cause." Just cause includes fault-based reasons, such as:

  • nonpayment of rent
  • a breach of a material term of the lease (if the breach is curable, the landlord must give the tenant the opportunity to "cure"—fix—the violation)
  • allowing or causing a nuisance on the property
  • committing waste (as defined by Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1161(4) (2022))
  • criminal activity
  • unauthorized subletting or assigning, and
  • using the rental for an unlawful purpose.

Just cause also includes no-fault reasons, such as:

When a landlord terminates the tenancy for a no-fault reason, the landlord must either give the tenant a payment of one month's rent to help them relocate, or waive payment of rent for the final month of the tenancy. (Cal. Civ. Code § 1946.2(d)(1) (2022).)

The rules for terminating the tenancy of a renter who's been in the rental for 12 months or longer are complex. To read the details and a list of situations that are considered just cause for terminating a month-to-month tenancy, see California Civil Code section 1946.2.

Notice Requirements for California Tenants

Unless the rental agreement provides a shorter notice period, a California tenant must give their landlord 30 days' notice to end a month-to-month tenancy. Tenants should check their rental agreement to see if it requires giving notice on the first of the month or on another specific date. The notice should be written, and must be personally delivered or mailed by certified or registered mail to the landlord or the landlord's agent (such as a property manager). Again, tenants should check their rental agreement for instructions—most rental agreements specify where (and to whom) tenants should deliver official notices.

In some situations, tenants might be able to move out with less (or no) notice—for example, when a landlord seriously violates the rental agreement or fails to fulfill legal responsibilities affecting the tenant's health or safety.

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