If you own real estate property in California (or you are in the process of acquiring property), many laws will dictate your rights and responsibilities as a landowner. We suggest you get familiar with California’s real estate laws and how they affect you as an owner.

Whether you own only your personal residence or a  number of properties as a landlord, you must know the California property and real estate laws that dictate your actions when buying, selling, renting, or owning such land. While there’s certainly an importance to know all of them, we do highly recommend you learn the real estate laws we have featured below.

The following are five key California property and real estate laws everyone should know.


  1. Contracts related to property and real estate must be in writing. Leases, contracts for sale, commission agreements, licenses, and many other property and real estate contracts must be in writing to be valid. Make sure to have a real estate lawyer draw up a valid contract and keep it in a safe, easily accessible place, or you risk questions of transaction validity and even fraud.
  2. All property defects must be disclosed prior to purchase or rental. Any known material defects must be disclosed to prospective buyers or renters before closing. This includes any deaths that may have occurred on the property within the past three years.
  3. Abandoned property is ceded to the government after three years. Under California law, a property that is abandoned or lost is considered “unclaimed property.” If a property retains its unclaimed status for three years, it is turned over to the California government. You must officially reclaim any property you intend to hold before such a time.
  4. Security deposits for rentals are allowed, but they are limited. Security deposits for rented property cannot exceed two months’ rent, or three months in the case of a furnished rental. They must be refundable. All security deposits must be returned in full at the end of the lease unless some or part of the deposit is withheld to pay for unpaid rent, damage of the property beyond normal wear and tear, or cleaning fees. This includes any security deposits related to pets.
  5. Evictions require proper notice. For a landlord to evict a tenant, they must give prior notice for the tenant to vacate the premises. The procedure for evicting a tenant can be complicated.


These five laws form the basis of California real estate and property laws, but they do not cover all the laws that may apply to your property. To ensure that you are complying with all relevant property laws, you must be familiar with even obscure regulations. An experienced California real estate lawyer can assist you. Mr. Larson is a well respected real estate attorney with years of experience.

Michael Larson is an experienced California real estate attorney with practicing offices located in Santa Rosa, CA, and San Francisco, CA.

Santa Rosa Attorney Office – 707.578.2310

San Francisco Attorney Office – 415.483.5938