The information in this page is provided as a free resource for renters in San Jose. It is not legal advice. If you need legal advice or additional legal help, contact https://baylegal.org/get-help/find-an-office/santa-clara-county/.

Does San Jose have “rent control?”

Yes, rent is regulated in San Jose.

A certain selection of housing qualifies for restricted increases on rent. Under the Apartment Rent Ordinance, the maximum allowable rent increase is 5% in a 12-month period. Although rental property owners are entitled to raise the rent above the 5% maximum, an owner must provide notice to the resident of their right to petition the rent increase and request a hearing. At the hearing, the “reasonableness” of the rent increase will be judged by a city-appointed arbiter.

What does it mean to have a “safe, habitable” place to live in San Jose?

Tenants are entitled to habitable housing, which means that their rental units must be fit for human habitation and must not have conditions that negatively affect their health and safety. Tenants’ rights include:

  • Protection from the weather (no broken windows or leaky roofs)
  • A kitchen with a sink that cannot be made of an absorbent material such as
  • Plumbing in good repair ▪ Hot and cold running water wood
  • Gas facilities in good repair (if gas is used in the home)
  • Heater in good repair ▪ Lights and wiring in good repair
  • Clean and sanitary buildings and grounds (no rat or vermin infestation)
  • Garbage cans with lids that are emptied regularly
  • Floors, stairways, and railings in good repair
  • A working toilet, sink, and bathtub or shower
  • Natural lighting in every room
  • Windows in each room that must be able to open at least halfway for ventilation unless a fan provides mechanical ventilation
  • Safe fire or emergency exits leading to a street or hallway
  • Deadbolt on entry doors and locking windows
  • A locking mailbox for each unit in a residential hotel
  • At least one telephone jack and telephone wiring in good repair
  • Working smoke detectors

Does my landlord have to provide smoke detectors or carbon monoxide detectors in San Jose?

Smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors are required to be functioning for all tenant units. Landlord upkeep is required, and it must meet the State of California’s smoke and carbon monoxide alarm installation requirements.

How long does my landlord have to fix problems at my apartment in San Jose?

Usually, that depends on how severe the problem is. Landlords must complete repairs within a reasonable amount of time after being notified of an issue by a tenant. 30 is presumed to be “reasonable,” except for in an emergency. How can you tell the difference? Landlords must complete repairs within a reasonable amount of time after being notified of an issue by a tenant. 30 is presumed to be “reasonable,” except for in an emergency.

What can I do if my landlord can’t or won’t fix problems at my apartment in San Jose?

Rent Abatement

Withholding rent may be a viable option if the rental of the unit is an illegal structure or the issue that needs repair causes a “substantial reduction of habitability.”

Repair and Deduct

If a tenant informs the landlord of the need to make a repair that affects habitability, and the landlord fails to make the repair in a reasonable amount of time, the tenant may make the repair themselves and deduct the cost from future rent payments. This remedy may only be used if the total cost of the repair would be less than one month’s rent, and tenants are limited to using this remedy twice in a 12-month period. The statute provides that “if a tenant acts to repair and deduct after the 30th day following notice, he is presumed to have acted after a reasonable time.”

What kind of notice does my landlord need to give me in San Jose?

Eviction

Landlords must give tenants a written notice and three days’ opportunity to cure any issue before beginning eviction proceedings (e.g., they must inform the tenant of the failure to pay rent and give them the opportunity to pay it), but there is no set amount of time they must give the tenant to cure. If the tenant fails to pay, then the landlord can serve another notice telling the tenant to vacate the premises w/in three days.

If the tenant fails to do so, the landlord can begin eviction proceedings. “No Fault” eviction laws state that landlords must provide certain notices, in writing, to tenants. If a landlord is evicting a tenant so that the landlord or their family can move in, the landlord must identify the people moving in—providing their names and relationships to the landlord. The landlord or their family must move in within three months of eviction, and they must live in the unit for at least a year.

Landlords who evict tenants to renovate properties must include copies of permits or contracts, among other details, when serving eviction notices. Landlords who do not follow through will have to allow evicted tenants to move back under the original lease terms. (SB 576)

Condition

Landlords who know (or have reason to know) that mold in the rental exceeds permissible exposure limits or poses a health threat must provide prospective and current tenants with a written disclosure of the same. Landlords must make the disclosure to prospective tenants before they enter into the lease or rental agreement. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 26147.)

Landlords must also distribute to prospective tenants (before they enter into the lease or rental agreement) a consumer handbook developed by the State Department of Health Services describing the potential health risks from mold. (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 26148.)

Rent Increases

Landlords must give 30 days notice for rent increases of less than 10%, and they must give 90 days’ notice for increases of more than 10%.

Entry

the landlord shall give the tenant reasonable notice in writing of his or her intent to enter and enter only during normal business hours. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. The notice may be personally delivered to the tenant, left with someone of suitable age and discretion at the premises, or left on, near, or under the usual entry door of the premises in a manner in which a reasonable person would discover the notice.

Twenty-four hours shall be presumed to be reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice may be mailed to the tenant. Mailing of the notice at least six days prior to an intended entry is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

Other Required Notices in San Jose

CA requires several other types of landlord disclosures (summarized here, but more details can be found on p. 29-31 of the CA Tenants Guide)

  • Must disclose the presence of lead-based paint before the lease begins (where the landlord knows of the lead) and give tenants a copy of the EPA’s “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home” pamphlet
  • A pest control company must give written notice to the landlord and tenants of rental property regarding pesticides to be used when the company provides an initial treatment as part of an ongoing pest-control service contract. The landlord must give a copy of this notice to every new tenant who will occupy a rental unit that will be serviced under the service contract.
  • Prior to creating a new tenancy for a dwelling unit, a landlord must provide a written notice to a prospective tenant about bed bugs. The required notice must include general information about bed bug identification, behavior, and biology, the importance of cooperation for prevention and treatment, and the importance of, and for prompt written reporting of, suspected infestations to the landlord.
  • Landlords with ten or more employees must provide posted notices at any rental properties where there is a possibility of “exposure to chemicals (listed by the State of California) that cause cancer, birth defects or other reproductive harm.”
  • Landlords must deliver notices to tenants who are considering renting any properties where the health inspector finds methamphetamine contamination.
  • The owner of a dwelling who has applied for a permit to demolish the dwelling must give written notice of this fact to a prospective tenant before accepting any fee from the tenant or entering into a rental agreement with the tenant. (The owner must give notice to current tenants, including tenants who have yet to move in, before applying for a permit.) The notice must state the earliest approximate date that the owner expects the demolition to occur and that the tenancy will end
  • A landlord who knows that a rental unit is within one mile of a closed military base in which ammunition or military explosives were used must give written notice of this fact to a prospective tenant. The landlord must give the tenant this notice before the tenant signs a rental agreement.
  • California law requires a landlord to disclose to a prospective tenant a death and the manner of such death that occurred at the rental unit within the last three years.  – Before renting units in a “condominium conversion project,” the landlord must give notice to the tenant that:
    • (1) The unit has been approved for sale and may be sold to the public,
    • (2) The tenant’s rental agreement may be terminated (ended) if the unit is sold,
    • (3) The tenant will be informed at least 90 days before the unit is offered for sale, and
    • (4) The tenant will normally be given the first option to buy the unit.
  • In all rental agreements entered into after July 1, 2018, if the owner has actual knowledge that the rental unit is located in a flood hazard zone, the landlord must disclose to the tenant that they live in a special flood hazard area or an area of potential flooding.”

Can I end my lease early in San Jose?

If something comes up in your life, you may find that you need to end your lease early. This can be stressful and very expensive, with most leases including steep penalties and fines for early termination. Here are some potential options.

Military

If you’re active military, you may be able to terminate your lease early under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA provides certain protections for active-duty military members, including the right to terminate a lease early if you receive orders for a permanent change of station (PCS) or deployment.

To terminate your lease early under the SCRA, you must provide your landlord with written notice and a copy of your orders. The notice must be provided at least 30 days before the date on which you intend to terminate the lease.

Seniors and Those with a Disability

The Vacate procedure in the repair section will allow a tenant to break the lease if the landlord fails to make necessary repairs w/in a reasonable time.  A tenant may also terminate the lease early if the “tenant, a household member, or an immediate family member was the victim of:

  • (1) Domestic violence as defined in Section 6211 of the Family Code.
  • (2) Sexual assault as defined in Section 261, 261.5, 286, 287, or 289 of the Penal Code.
  • (3) Stalking as defined in Section 1708.7.
  • (4) Human trafficking as defined in Section 236.1 of the Penal Code.
  • (5) Abuse of an elder or a dependent adult as defined in Section 15610.07 of the Welfare and Institutions Code.
  • (6) A crime that caused bodily injury or death. (7)A crime that included the exhibition, drawing, brandishing, or use of a firearm or other deadly weapon or instrument.
  • (8) A crime that included the use of force against the victim or a threat of force against the victim.”  Tenants must deliver a notice to the landlord to terminate for these reasons, and they must include evidence of the need that varies depending on the crime involved and is listed in the statute itself. The lease will terminate 14 days after the notice is delivered, and the landlord is required to return the tenant’s security deposit.”

Where can I get help if I’m being evicted in San Jose?

Reach out to the San Jose Eviction Help Center for more information at evictionhelp@sanjoseca.gov or 408-975-4444

SixFifty can help!

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Sources

https://bhsd.sccgov.org/sites/g/files/exjcpb711/files/lfsv-tenants-right-to-habitable-housing-07-2011.pdf