While it may be tempting for landlords to hide certain aspects of their rental property from potential tenants, they’re actually required by law to reveal a variety of things. California, in particular, requires a long list of disclosures—including the landlord’s contact information, the unit’s smoking policy, and any recent deaths on the property.
Every California landlord must provide certain information to potential tenants
Many of California’s required disclosures are conditional—meaning that, depending on the specific property in question, they may not be relevant. However, the ones listed below are required in every single case.
Landlord’s contact information
Landlords must always provide potential tenants their full name, phone number, and address, as well as instructions for how rent should be paid.1 This information must be provided anytime there’s a new lease (including renewals, if requested by the tenant) or when there’s a new owner or manager of the rental property.
California’s registered sex offender database
All leases must alert tenants to the presence of California’s registered sex offender database, which provides the names and addresses of offenders.2 Landlord’s aren’t required to inform prospective tenants of any nearby offenders listed on the database, just that the database exists.
Information on bedbugs and how to report them
California landlords are required to provide tenants with general information about bedbugs—including what they look like and when they typically appear—as well as emphasize the importance of letting the landlord know (in writing) of any suspected infestations.3 The California Association of Realtors has an example of a bedbug disclosure that landlords can use.
In San Francisco specifically, landlords must disclose any bedbug infestations from the past two years if requested by a potential tenant.4
Certain disclosures are only required if they are relevant to the property
Depending on things like the year the property was built and the conditions of the unit, California landlords may be required to make additional disclosures. The ones listed below are mandatory only when they apply to the rental in question.
Information on lead-based paint
Under federal law, landlords of properties built before 1978 must include a warning statement in leases about lead-based paint and its potential hazards. They’re also required to give tenants an informational pamphlet about lead-based paint hazards. This is the only disclosure that’s required on the national level.
For units with a no-smoking policy, the lease agreement must contain a clause letting tenants know where smoking is prohibited or limited.5
If a landlord applies for a permit to demolish a rental unit, they must provide written notice to potential tenants before accepting any rent from them.6
Any death on the property in the past three years
Landlords must disclose any death on the rental property in the past three years.7 However, they aren’t required to share the cause of death. They also don’t have to let potential tenants know if the occupant died from AIDS or had HIV.
Landlords must inform potential tenants if the property was previously the site of a drug lab and is still contaminated with methamphetamine or fentanyl, and therefore subject to cleanup.8 Tenants must sign a statement that they’ve been given this notice. Tenants can void the rental agreement if they weren’t notified about drug contamination and find out about it later.
Presence of toxic mold
Landlords must disclose any potentially hazardous conditions, including mold. If a landlord knows about any toxic mold in the unit, they must let prospective tenants know about it in writing.9 State law doesn’t require the landlord to prevent or clean up any mold in the unit, but tenants may be able to withhold rent or repair the issue and deduct any mold-related costs from rent under the warranty of habitability.
Pest control notice
If the landlord is actively working with a pest control company, they must provide certain information about this process to their tenants. This includes:11
- Which pest is being treated
- Which pesticides are being used and their active ingredients
- A written warning with specific cautionary language about the potential risks of pesticide exposure
- How often the treatments are being done
Former military training grounds
Landlords must inform potential tenants in writing if the rental is within one mile of a former military training ground (also known as a “military ordnance”) that may have explosives.12 Landlords are only required to make this disclosure if they have actual knowledge of a former military ordnance location.
Potential flooding area
If a landlord knows that the rental unit is in a flood zone or potential flood zone, they must disclose it in the lease agreement.13 The disclosure must also advise tenants to get flood or renter’s insurance in case of property loss due to a flood. However, the landlord must have actual knowledge of the potential flooding area for this requirement to apply.
Some rental units share gas and electric meters, so there’s no way to monitor individual use. If that’s the case, landlords are required to tell potential tenants in advance that they’ll be sharing meters with other units. In addition, landlords must disclose their procedure for fairly dividing up the utility bills.14
Many properties have submeters for water, where landlords or other building managers take readings of water usage in the building instead of the local water company. If a rental unit gets water through submeters, landlords must provide potential tenants with certain information about their system, including:15
- The estimated monthly bill for water
- How the bills for water service should be paid and when
- Any extra charges that may be incurred
- Any late fees
How to handle any problems with service
Proposition 65 Warning Notice
While not a required disclosure, landlords are advised to post a copy of the California Proposition 65 Warning Notice somewhere potential tenants can see it (like a parking structure or lobby).16 The notice advises tenants that they may be exposed to chemicals like tobacco smoke or motor vehicle exhaust while on the property.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.
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