Tenant Responsibilities

Tenant Responsibilities

Tenant Responsibilities

When it comes to renting out property in San Diego, there is always so much talk about a landlord’s responsibilities. But what about tenant responsibilities. Landlords are not the only ones that have to obey laws. Tenants not only have certain obligations they must follow under landlord tenant law, they must also adhere to the lease agreement. Most tenants want to live in a safe well maintained home. They want landlords who respect their privacy and are reasonable about pets, deposits, and other issues. On the flip side, landlords want tenants who are responsible. But, many times landlords fail to discuss their expectations and responsibilities before they enter into a rental agreement. For this reason, we offer some insight on what every landlord needs to know about tenant responsibilities.

Tenants Responsibility for Repairs

Tenants have specific responsibilities under landlord tenant law to maintain the rental property. Although landlords are ultimately responsible for ensuring their rental units are habitable, California law makes landlords and tenants each responsible for certain kinds of repairs. Tenants are required by law to take reasonable care of their rental units. This includes common areas such as hallways and outside areas. They must also repair all damage they cause, or damage caused by anyone for whom they are responsible, such as family, guests, or pets. In addition, the law lists specific things tenants must do to keep their rental unit livable. According to California law, tenants must do all of the following:

A Tenant Responsibilities:

    • Keep the premises clean and sanitary
    • Use and operate gas, electrical, and plumbing fixtures properly
    • Dispose of trash and garbage in a clean and sanitary manner
    • Not destroy, damage, or deface the premises, or allow anyone else to do so
    • Not remove any part of the structure, dwelling unit, facilities, equipment, or appurtenances, or allow anyone else to do so
    • Use the premises as a place to live, and use the rooms for their intended purposes
    • Notify the landlord when dead bolt locks and window locks or security devices don’t operate properly
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Tenants Responsibility to Pay Rent

Most lease agreements require that rent be paid at the beginning of each rental period. However, your lease agreement can specific any day of the month as the day rent is due. No matter what you choose as the rent due day, rent is legally due on the date specified in your lease agreement. If your tenant does not pay rent when it is due, you can begin charging them late rent fees.

However, your lease agreement must provide information on late fees before you can charge them. Though rent is legally due on the day, your lease states it is, make sure you have a rent collection policy in place. A rent collection policy is a documented system that you use to enforce late fees and lease terms. By establishing a clear and consistent rent collection policy, you avoid late rent payments and tenant excuses

Tenant Responsibilities

Tenants Responsibility to Adhere to the Lease

When a tenant signs a lease agreement, they are agreeing to adhere to the terms. That said, only a strong lease provides a binding contract for which you can enforce. As long as your lease terms are legal, the tenant is required to follow them. A tenant’s failure to follow the terms of their lease agreement is considered a lease violation. When this happens, it’s best to give your tenant the option to correct the problem or behavior. However, if a tenant does not fix their bad behavior (by paying the rent or finding a new home for their unauthorized pet) you may need to file an eviction.

But keep in mind, before evicting a tenant, California law requires you to legally terminate the tenancy. To do this, you must first give the tenant written notice, as specified by state law. Depending on the type of lease violation and the terms of your lease, you may be required to give anywhere from 30 to 60 days notice. However, for serious lease violations, you will not need to give the tenant the option of correcting the problem behavior. Instead, you can terminate the tenancy by giving your tenant three days advanced written notice for the following types of violations:

Three-Day Notice:

  • Failure to pay the rent
  • Violation of any provision of the lease or rental agreement
  • Materially damaging the rental property (“committed waste”)
  • Substantially interfered with other tenants (“committed a nuisance”)
  • Committing domestic violence or sexual assault against, or stalked another tenant or subtenant on the premises
  • Using the premises for an unlawful purpose
  • Engaging in drug dealing, unlawfully used, cultivated, imported, or manufactured illegal drugs
  • Using the building or property to conduct dogfighting or cockfighting
  • Unlawful conduct involving weapons or ammunition


While the basic responsibility for keeping a rental unit habitable falls on the landlord, tenants also have certain obligations. For example, they need to take care of their trash in a responsible way, keep plumbing fixtures clean, and fix problems that they cause. For any landlord who is struggling with to ensure their tenants are abiding by the terms of their lease, you might want to consider hiring a property management company to help you. Contact us today at (858) 576-2176 to learn more about our property management services.