Skip to main content
Navigate Up
Sign In
SMC|Enrollment Development|International Education Center|Laws And Regulations For Apartment Rentals

Laws And Regulations For Apartment Rentals

Before you sign a lease: Under California law, tenants, roommates, and landlords have specific rights and responsibilities. A lease is a legally binding document and should be read carefully and fully understood before signing. We recommend that you acquaint yourself with California housing laws by contacting the agencies listed below before signing any lease agreement.

Residential Landlord and Tenant Act

State laws address the following issues:

  • Lease Agreements
  • Living Conditions
  • Responsibilities for Repairs and Maintenance
  • Damage Deposits
  • Privacy
  • Discrimination
  • Procedures for Vacating a Rental Unit
  • Retaliatory Evictions

Questions on state laws may be directed to:

Los Angeles County Department of Consumer Affairs
500 West Temple Street, Room B96
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tel: 213-974-1452 / Toll-free within LA County: 800-593-8222
Fax: 213-687-0233

To receive a copy of the Landlord/Tenant Handbook, please contact the City of L os Angeles Housing Department, Consumer Affairs Division at:

Central Regional Office
3550 Wilshire Blvd. #1500
1600 City Hall East
Los Angeles, CA 90010
Tel: 866-557-7368 / TDD: 213-978-3231
Fax: 213-847-0402
www.lacity.org/lahd
mediator@atty.ci.la.ca.us

or

Westside Regional Office
3451 S. Sepulveda Blvd., #150
Los Angeles, CA 90034
Tel: 310-572-2025 / Toll-free 866-557-7368

According to the Los Angeles Housing Department Rent Stabilization bulletin of January 1996, landlords have the right to:

  • Raise the rent once every twelve or more months by the annual allowable increase.
  • Raise the rent by an additional 1% for gas and 1% for electricity when the landlord pays all the costs for either of these services for the tenant.
  • Raise the damage deposit and the last month’s rent, by the annual allowable increase percentage at the same time the rent is raised.
  • Raise the rent by 10% for additional tenants.
  • Apply for special rent increases based on work completed for Cited Rehabilitation or Capital Improvements, or based on an application for a “Just and Reasonable” rent increase.
  • Collect (in June only) a portion of the annual registration fee paid to the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD) from the tenants.

Tenants have the right to:

  • See proof of registration with the LAHD from the landlord of their rented units.
  • Be given one of eleven legal reasons for evictions permitted by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance of any Notice to Quit.
  • Relocation assistance for certain No Fault Evictions.
  • Receive rent increases limited by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance once every twelve or more months.
  • File a complaint with the LAHD if the landlord is not registered in compliance with the Ordinance.
  • File a complaint with the LAHD if the Notice To Quit does not give a legal reason for eviction or if the reason for eviction is false or deceptively based.
  • File a complaint with the LAHD if the landlord when required by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance did not pay relocation assistance
  • File a complaint with the LAHD for an illegal rent increase or an illegal reduction in services.

Santa Monica City Attorney's Consumer Protection,
Fair Housing & Public Rights Unit
1685 Main Street, #310
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Tel: 310-458-8336
Fax: 310-395-6727

This unit is responsible for:

  • Enforcing consumer protection laws to assure that consumers are treated fairly and lawfully by local businesses.
  • Investigating complaints against property by owners and/or agents involving denial of a rental or purchase, of a dwelling, based on race, age, children, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability or religion.
  • Reviewing complaints alleging violations of anti-smoking laws.
  • Reviewing discrimination complaints based upon AIDS.
  • Reviewing tenant harassment complaints against landlords for possible violations of the Tenant Harassment Ordinance.
  • Providing information and assistance on filing a Small Claims action. Videos and small claims materials are available upon request.

How can you resolve your complaint?

  • First, be prepared to prove all unfair treatment. For best results, complain when the problem occurs or when you discover it.
  • Direct your complaint to someone with the authority to solve it. If you cannot settle the problem in person or by phone, put your complaint in writing to the manager or owner.
  • Write the dates and names when you speak to company staff.
  • Try to be courteous and reasonable. This encourages cooperation.
  • If the company does not satisfactorily resolve your complaints within a specified period, contact the City Attorney’s Office.
  • If you suspect you have been discriminated against, it is important that you report the incident quickly.

How do you file a complaint with the city?

  • Stop by the City Attorney’s Office for a complaint form or call and ask that the form be mailed. A complaint form must be completed to be processed.
  • Include legible copies of sales receipts, advertisements, contracts, canceled checks and documents pertaining to the transaction.

What happens to your complaint?

  • It will be analyzed to determine the best course of action. In most cases, a letter is sent to the business involved requesting that it respond with their position about the complaint. The unit investigates every complaint and will follow through by notifying you of the results.

The unit handles the following types of complaints:

  • Unfair & deceptive business practices
  • Repair disputes
  • Telemarketing fraud
  • Illegal lockouts/Utility shut-offs
  • Misleading and false advertising
  • Warranty disputes

Web sites to visit for information about laws and regulations:

Additional Santa Monica Numbers:

  • Santa Monica Building & Safety Department
    1685 Main Street, #111
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-458-8355
    Fax: 310-396-6473
  • Santa Monica City Clerk
    1685 Main Street, #102
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-458-8211
    Fax: 310-394-2962
  • Santa Monica City Council
    1685 Main Street, #209
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-458-8201
    Fax: 310-458-1621
  • Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
    1855 Main Street
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel (Business Office): 310-458-8551 / Program Information: 310-458-2288
    Fax: 310-394-3411
  • Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services
    1685 Main Street, #210
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel (Administrative Office City Hall): 310-458-8310
    Fax: 310-576-1539
  • Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services - Cultural Affairs Division
    1685 Main Street
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-458-8350
    Fax: 310-917-6641
  • Los Angeles County District Attorney, Santa Monica Satellite Office
    1725 Main Street, #228
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-260-3648
    Fax: 310-458-6518
  • Santa Monica Mayor
    1685 Main Street, #209
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-458-8201
    Fax: 310-458-1621
  • Santa Monica Parking Enforcement
    1685 Main Street
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-458-8466
  • Santa Monica Rent Control
    1685 Main Street, #202
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-458-8751

Pets

It is extremely inadvisable to bring your pets with you to the United States. Many (if not most), hotels, apartments and homestays have a "no-pet" policy. It is sometimes possible to pay an additional "pet security deposit", but facilities offering this alternative are few and far between. In addition, you should consider in advance any quarantine regulations you may have to face when you return to your homeland.

  • Pet Licenses
    1685 Main Street
    Santa Monica, CA 90401
    Tel: 310-458-8594
    Fax: 310-450-6308
  • Santa Monica City Animal Shelter
    1640 9 th Street
    Santa Monica, CA 90404
    Tel: 310-458-8594
    Fax: 310-450-6308