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Frequently Asked Questions

Reasonable Accommodations
reasonable accomodationsIf tenant requires some kind of reasonable accommodation (such as emotional support animal, or a downstairs unit), landlord is required to provide reasonable accommodation for tenants under the Americans with Disabilities Act. For more information on fair housing issues contact us:
Application/Screen Process
application processThe landlord should always require a prospective resident to fill out a rental application and may collect a fee to cover the costs to screen an applicant. The landlord should offer an application to all interested applicants. For more information contact us:
Rental Agreements
rental agreementsBefore you can rent a unit, you and the landlord should sign a rental agreement. It is important to read your rental agreement before signing. A month-to-month agreement means that you will live in the unit and pay rent on a monthly basis. A lease states the length of the rental term. For more information contact us:
Having Repairs Made

 

What are landlord’s responsibilities? 

Under Implied Warranty of Habitability all landlords need to make the premises habitable when they rent a unit, and to maintain it in that condition throughout the tenancy. The landlord must repair defects in the rental unit to follow the state and local building and health codes. 

 

What is “Implied Warranty of Habitability” for each rental unit?

Unit must have:

  • Plumbing in good working order
  • Gas facilities in good working order
  • Heating facilities in good working order
  • An electric system, including lighting, wiring and equipment in good working order
  • Clean and sanitary building, and grounds (free from rubbish, rodents, and vermin)
  • Floors, stairways, and railing in good repair
  • Operable dead bolts locks on main entry doors
  • Working smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Windows in each room must open at least halfway unless a fan provides mechanical ventilation
  • Adequate trash receptacles

 

What are the obligations for tenant to keep unit habitable? 

Tenants are required by law to take reasonable care of their rental units, as well as common areas such as hallways and outside areas. Tenants must act to keep those areas clean and undamaged. Tenants also are responsible for repair of all damage that results from their neglect or abuse and damage caused by family, guests, or pets.

 

What are tenant’s responsibilities?

Tenant’s responsibilities include:

  • Keep the unit clean and sanitary
  • Use and operate gas, electrical, and plumbing fixtures properly. Examples:
    • Overloading electrical outlets
    • Flushing large, foreign object down the toilet
    • Allowing any gas, electrical, or plumbing fixture to become filthy
  • Dispose of trash and garbage in a clean and sanitary manner
  • Not to destroy, damage, or ruin the unit, or allow anyone else to do so
  • Not to remove any part of the structure, unit, equipment, or allow anyone else to do so
  • Use the premises as a place to live and use the rooms for their intended purposes. For example: The bedroom must be used as a bedroom, and not as a kitchen.

 

How do I get repairs done? 

If a tenant believes the rental unit needs repairs, the tenant should notify the landlord. It’s best for the tenant to notify the landlord of damage or defects by both a telephone call and a letter. The tenant should describe the damage or repairs in both the phone call and the letter. The tenant should date the letter and keep a copy for own records. 

 

Where can I get a repair request letter?

Most landlords of the apartment complexes provide emergency phone numbers and maintenance request forms. If your landlord provides a repair request form, use it. If not, do your own or use Repair Request letter from https://www.tenantstogether.org/resources/sample-letters.

 

Can my landlord enter the unit for repairs?

The landlord must give the tenant reasonable advance notice (at least 24 hours) in writing before entering the unit. However, advance written notice is not required under any of the following circumstances:

  • To respond to an emergency
  • The tenant and landlord agreed that the landlord will make repairs or supply services
  • The tenant is present and consents to the entry.

 

How long should I wait for the repairs to be done? 

The tenant needs to allow the landlord adequate time to respond. Some issues can take up to 30 days to resolved. 

Example:

  1. The tenant calls landlord because the toilet is overflowing. Tenant has only one bath in the unit. In this situation landlord must fix it as soon as possible or within 24 hours. 
  2. Tenant comes home to a window broken and immediately notifies landlord. Landlord should board up the window immediately for tenant’s safety. But, it might take up to 30 days to order and replace a new window. 
  3. The tenant has a cockroach infestation in the unit. Landlord should schedule pest control treatments as soon as possible. Depending on the level of infestation, it might take several months to fix the issue. 

 

 What to do if the landlord doesn’t make repairs? 

If the landlord doesn’t make the requested repairs and doesn’t have a good reason for not doing so, the tenant may consider calling Code Enforcement and make a complaint or request an inspection. 

 

Can the landlord retaliate if I call Code Enforcement?

The law offers tenants protection from retaliatory acts if they occur within 180 days of exercising rights as a tenant. A landlord cannot increase rent, decrease housing services, end tenancy, attempt to recover possession, or threaten any of these, in retaliation for a tenant’s exercise of his or her rights. 

 

What if landlord hasn’t fixed a serious problem?

The tenant many consider one of several remedies: 

  • Repairing the problem and deducting the cost from the rent
  • Withholding the rent
  • Moving out 
  • Paying rent and then suing the landlord for the difference between the rent you paid and the value of the defective premises.

 

WARNING: there are risks of using one of the remedies.

Each of the remedies has its own risks and requirements, so tenant should use them. He recommended to consult with a knowledgeable party or attorney in tenant-landlord law before making any decisions or taking some actions to avoid evictions or lawsuits.

 

Please contact Renters Helpline for additional information regarding tenant/landlord rights.

Rent Increase

rent increase

The Sacramento ordinance and AB 1482 imposes rent caps requirements on some, but not all, rental properties. The maximum “annual rent adjustment” for an existing tenancy cannot exceed 5% plus the percentage of the annual increase in the cost of living adjustment (CPI) within a 12-month period, and it cannot exceed a combined total of 10%. For more information contact us:

Termination of Tenancy

termination of tenancyThe Sacramento ordinance and AB 1482’s just-cause provisions prohibit a landlord from terminating a month-to-month tenancy or choosing not to renew a fixed term lease, without providing an allowed reason for termination. Some rental properties are excluded from these laws. For more information contact us:

Evictions
evictionsIf you fail to vacate after the termination notice is up, the landlord can file for eviction at the Superior Court. This is referred to as an unlawful detainer case. For more information contact us:
Security Deposit Refund
security deposit refundNo later than 21 calendar days after resident has vacated the premises, the the landlord must either send a full refund of security deposit, or provide an itemized statement that lists the amounts of any deductions from security deposit along with copies of receipts. For more information contact us:
AB 3088 - COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act of 2020

AB 3088 – COVID-19 TENANT RELIEF ACT OF 2020

The AB 3088 protects tenants from evictions if tenants have COVID-19 related economic impacts and cannot pay their rent. This law applies to ALL residential rental tenants who have been experiencing a financial impact due to COVID-19 and have not been able to pay rent from March 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021.

Unpaid rent between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020

Tenant can never be evicted for nonpayment due to COVID-19 related hardship for rent between March to August. As of September 1st, if the tenant has any unpaid rent between March 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020:

  • The landlord must serve the tenant with a 15-Day notice along with “Declaration of COVID-19 Related Financial Distress”
  • Tenant must sign the declaration form and return it to the landlord within 15 business days.
  • Tenants can be evicted beginning October 5, 2020 if they fail to return COVID-19 related hardship declaration to landlord.

Unpaid rent between September 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021

Tenant can never be evicted for nonpayment due to COVID-19 related hardship for rent between March to August. As of September 1st, if the tenant has any unpaid rent between September 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020:

  • The landlord must serve the tenant with a 15-Day notice along with “Declaration of COVID-19 Related Financial Distress”
  • Tenant must sign the declaration form and return it to the landlord within 15 business days
  • Tenant must pay at least 25% of the total rent (including any charges) due for each month of September – January and it must be paid by January 31, 2021.
  • Landlord may send tenant 15-Day notice with a declaration for each unpaid month during this period
  • If tenant does not pay 25% of total rent for this period by January 31, 2021, landlord can proceed with filing the unlawful detainer on or after February 1, 2021
  • Tenants can be evicted beginning October 5, 2020 if they fail to return COVID-19 related hardship declaration to landlord.

Tenants Still Responsible for Paying Unpaid Amounts to Landlords

  • Tenants still owe their landlords any remaining unpaid rent between March 1, 2020 and January 31, 2021
  • Landlords can still collect the past due rent from tenants as of February 1, 2021
  • If a tenant complies with a new law, which requires tenants to submit a declaration of COVID-19 financial impact, unpaid rent can only be collected through a small claims court process
  • Landlords may sue tenant in small calms court and begin to recover unpaid COVID-19 rental debts on March 1, 2021.

Evictions Can Still Proceed

As of September 2, 2020, a landlord can still file unlawful detainer complaint against a tenant if they violated the lease prior to March 1, 2020, or if they violated the lease afterwards for a cause other than non-payment of rent.

Please contact Renters Helpline at 916-389-7877

for questions or additional information regarding tenant/landlord rights.

SB-91 Tenant Relief Act Extention and Rental Assistance Program

What is SB 91?

 The California Legislature has enacted the SB 91 - COVID-19 Tenant Relief Act Extension and New Rental Assistance Program which protects renters who have experienced COVID-19-related financial distress from being evicted for failing to make rental payments due between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021. This bill is extending eviction protections, as well as creates an emergency rental assistance program to assist renters who have been unable to pay their rent and utility bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This program may be able to help tenants get caught up with past-due rent. Additionally, depending on the availability of funds, the program may also be able to assist you with making future rental payments.

Rental Assistance Program:

Rental Assistance Program focuses to stabilize low-income households through the payment of rental arrears to landlords.

  • Landlords can apply for funds with resident participation.
  • Payment levels for rental debts from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021.
  • Eligibility is for households at or below 80% area median income, prioritizing those under 50% area median income.
  • Participating landlords will be compensated up to 80% of unpaid rent if landlord agrees to waive remaining unpaid amount for that period.
  • If a landlord chooses not to participate, eligible households can still apply for and receive 25% of back rent owed for the covered period.
  • Rental assistance payments are paid directly to the landlord.
  • Anyone can apply for the assistance regardless of citizenship or immigration status.
  • There is no charge to apply for or receive this assistance.

What does "COVID-19-related financial distress" mean?

All of the following:

  • Loss of income caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Increased out-of-pocket expenses directly related to performing essential work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Increased expenses directly related to the health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Childcare responsibilities or responsibilities to care for an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic that limit your ability to earn income.
  • Increased costs for childcare or attending to an elderly, disabled, or sick family member directly related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Other circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic that have reduced your income or increased your expenses.

How does SB 91 protect tenants?

  • If you failed to make rental payments due between March 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020, because you had decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as described above, you cannot be evicted based on this nonpayment.
  • If you are unable to pay rental payments that come due between September 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, because of decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as described above, you cannot be evicted if you pay 25 percent of the rental payments missed during that time period on or before June 30, 2021 and return the declaration to the landlord.

Can tenant be evicted?

  • If tenant fails to return COVID-19 Related Hardship Declaration within 15 business day, landlord may file an unlawful detainer
  • If tenant does not pay 25% of total rent from September 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, landlord can proceed with filing an unlawful detainer on or after July 1, 2021
  • Yes, if tenants breach the lease for a cause other than non-payment of rent

Highlights for tenant:

    • Return the declaration of financial hardship
    • Pay 25% of monthly payments from September 1, 2020 thru June 30, 2021
    • Late fees cannot be collected
    • Debt still accrues but cannot be grounds for eviction

Should tenant receive any notices before landlord will file an eviction?

Before your landlord can seek to evict you for failing to make a payment that came due between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, your landlord will be required to give you a 15-day notice that informs you of the amounts owed and includes a blank declaration form you can use to comply with this requirement. It is very important you do not ignore a 15-day notice to pay rent or quit or a notice to perform covenants or quit from your landlord. You must provide, to your landlord, a declaration under penalty of perjury of your COVID19-related financial distress showing to the decreased income or increased expenses due to the COVID-19 pandemic to be protected by the eviction limitations described above. 

For information call Renters Helpline at 916-389-7877

Resources

Sample Letters - https://www.tenantstogether.org/resources/sample-letters

Tenant Protection Program of City of Sacramento -  https://www.cityofsacramento.org/tpp 

California Tenant Protections - https://tenantprotections.org/

Legal Services of Northern California - https://lsnc.net/

Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency - https://www.shra.org/

California Apartment Associationhttps://caanet.org/

LSNC has posted some new Know Your Rights videos about the rent gouging protections during the pandemic. They are available at:

English: https://youtu.be/jWE7davmUpM  

Spanish https://youtu.be/svoz-gqZgOs

Russian https://youtu.be/ICYIN9sChRw


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