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Landlord and Tenant Mediation

Our Landlord/Tenant department provides information and education to landlords and tenants about their rights and responsibilities under the California Civil Code. In addition, staff members will offer to mediate conflicts between tenants and landlords. Housing mediation is a useful tool to promote resolutions to problems and avoid needless litigation in the rental/housing industry.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q:  What is the difference between a lease and a month-to-month contract?                

A:  A lease is a contract that lock’s you for a specific amount of time; and you are responsible for the rent for the full term of the lease.  A month-to-month contract is an open contract, that can be cancelled or the rules can be changed with proper notice.


Q:  What is the difference between a verbal agreement and a written agreement?      

A:  A written contract has all the rules and information agreed to upon moving in.  A verbal contract is just an oral agreement, made by the parties.  A verbal agreement is binding if all parties agree; the Civil Code is applicable on both types of contract.


Q:  What is the purpose of a holding deposit and is it refundable?

A:  Holding deposits are to show that you are serious about renting a unit, and to hold it for a specific amount of time.  The holding deposit may be refundable, but the landlord may keep the full deposit or a portion depending on the length of time it takes the tenant to decide not to take possession of the property and the landlord’s losses in rent and advertising cost.


Q:  Can a landlord ask for cash only vs. check?

A:  A landlord cannot request cash only.  Exception:  If the tenant bounces a check, then the landlord can ask for cash only for the next three consecutive months.      


Q:  What does rights to privacy mean and is there a notice involved?    

A:  A landlords cannot enter a tenant’s unit without notice.  The landlord must give a 24 hour notice prior to entering the unit for repairs and inspections and must specify a date Monday through Friday 8:00am to 5:00pm.


Q:  What is renter’s insurance and is it mandatory?

A:  Renters insurance is to cover your own personal belongings, in a case of a fire, flood, etc.  There are some complexes that do have a policy making it mandatory.


Q:  How much can a landlord request for a security deposit? 

A:  Landlords can charge 3 times the rent amount as a deposit, if the unit is furnished, and 2 times the rent amount for unfurnished units.                                                                                 


Q:  Can a landlord charge for a last month rent? 

A:  Yes, as long as it’s worded on the contract (Pre-paid last month rent).


Q:  What is an Unlawful Detainer? 

A:  It’s a summons to take a party to court for possession of a property.


Q:  Are there exceptions for tenants in the military? 

A:  Yes, under the Soldier and Sailors Act, if a person gets orders to deploy, they must provide a copy to the landlord, and then the landlord must release them from their contract, without further responsibilities.