When Does A Landlord Have To Pay For A Hotel Room For A Tenant In California?

26 May, 6:34 am

In California, landlords have specific obligations toward their tenants, and it’s crucial for both landlords and tenants to be aware of these obligations. 

Understanding landlord responsibilities helps ensure a fair and lawful rental experience, promoting positive relationships between landlords and tenants.

Let’s imagine a situation where a rental property becomes temporarily uninhabitable due to a fire or other unforeseen circumstances. 

In such cases, tenants are displaced from their homes and need immediate alternative housing solutions. 

This is when the question arises: When does a landlord have to pay for a hotel room for a tenant in California?


Landlord’s Responsibility for Providing Temporary Housing


In California, landlords may be required to provide temporary housing, such as hotel rooms, when a rental property becomes uninhabitable due to factors beyond the tenant’s control. 

Examples of such situations include severe damage from natural disasters, major plumbing issues, or substantial mold infestation. 

It’s important to note that the landlord’s legal duty for providing temporary housing may vary depending on the circumstances and local laws.

There are several scenarios that may necessitate temporary housing for tenants. Here’s a closer look at two common scenarios in which a landlord may be required to provide alternative accommodation for tenants:


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– Uninhabitable Living Conditions

This refers to conditions in a rental property that make it unsafe, unsanitary, or otherwise unfit for human habitation. 

When a property becomes uninhabitable, it means that it is not suitable for tenants to live in and may pose risks to their health, safety, or well-being.

Here are two examples of such cases:

Mold Infestation

If a rental property experiences extensive mold growth due to water leaks or moisture issues, rendering it unsafe and uninhabitable, the landlord would be responsible for providing temporary housing for the tenants until the mold remediation and repairs are completed.

Structural Damage

In the event of significant structural damage caused by, for example, a collapsed ceiling or a major plumbing failure, making the property dangerous or unsuitable for occupancy, the landlord would need to arrange temporary housing for the tenants while the necessary repairs are carried out.


– Natural Disasters

California is known for its diverse geography and is susceptible to various natural disasters. The likelihood of specific natural disasters can vary depending on the region within California. 

Here’s a general overview of some common natural disasters in California:

Wildfire Destruction

If a rental property is located in an area affected by wildfires and becomes uninhabitable due to fire damage or evacuation orders, the landlord would be required to provide temporary housing for the tenants until the property is safe to return to or suitable long-term accommodations are secured.


In the aftermath of severe flooding that renders a rental property uninhabitable, such as water damage to the structure or electrical system, the landlord would be responsible for arranging temporary housing for the tenants until the property is restored to a habitable condition.


Understanding the Landlord’s Obligations under California Law


In California, landlords have a legal obligation to provide habitable dwellings for their tenants. 

This requirement is commonly known as the implied warranty of habitability. It means that landlords must maintain rental properties in a condition that is safe, sanitary, and fit for human habitation. 

When a property becomes uninhabitable, landlords are generally responsible for ensuring that tenants have access to suitable temporary housing until the primary property is restored to a habitable state.

Suburbs and localities that would fall under the greater California section, and thus under these laws, include Los Angeles, Hollywood, Culver City, and their outlying regions.


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Rental Property and Lease Agreement Considerations


The lease agreement is a critical document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants.

When it comes to temporary displacement and alternative housing, it’s essential to review the lease agreement to understand the specific provisions related to such situations. 

The lease agreement may include clauses that address the landlord’s commitment to provide comparable alternative accommodations or reimburse hotel expenses.

– Typical clauses addressing tenant displacement and alternative housing

Some lease agreements have clauses specifically addressing temporary displacement. 

For example, a well-drafted lease agreement might state that if the rental property becomes uninhabitable, the landlord will cover reasonable hotel costs up to a certain limit or for a specific duration. 

These clauses provide clarity and guidance for both parties during unforeseen circumstances.

– Communication between landlord and tenant during displacement

Effective communication between the landlord and tenant is crucial when a rental property becomes uninhabitable. 

It’s important for tenants to promptly notify the landlord of the issue and discuss temporary housing options. Similarly, landlords should be responsive to their tenants’ concerns and work towards finding suitable temporary housing solutions. 

Maintaining clear and documented communication is essential to ensure a smooth process and avoid misunderstandings.

rent payment due for tenant that has been displaced due to damage?

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Do I still Have to Pay Rent?


The payment of rent, when a tenant has to move out temporarily, depends on the specific circumstances and the applicable laws, as well as the terms outlined in the lease agreement.

In general, if a rental unit becomes uninhabitable due to circumstances beyond the tenant’s control, such as natural disasters or significant property damage, tenants may be entitled to certain rights and protections.

Under California Civil Code Section 1942, tenants may have the right to withhold rent or terminate the lease if the rental unit becomes uninhabitable and the landlord fails to address the issue within a reasonable time frame. 

However, it’s important to follow the proper legal procedures and provide notice to the landlord before taking such actions.


California Small Claims Court Process


If a landlord fails to fulfill their obligations regarding temporary housing, tenants have legal recourse. 

Tenants can file a claim in California Small Claims Court seeking reimbursement for a tenant’s hotel room during the displacement period. The court provides an accessible and relatively straightforward process for resolving disputes involving monetary claims within certain limits.

– Filing a claim for reimbursement

To file a claim, tenants should gather evidence to support their case. 

This evidence may include documentation of the uninhabitable condition of the rental property, correspondence with the landlord regarding temporary housing, and receipts for hotel expenses. 

Tenants should follow the court’s guidelines for filing the claim, pay the required fees, and attend the court hearing.

– Factors considered by the court when determining liability

When determining liability, the court will consider several factors. 

These may include the severity and duration of the property issue, the landlord’s response and efforts to resolve the situation, and the reasonableness of the hotel room or rental unit rented by the tenant. 

Presenting a strong case with clear evidence is crucial to establish the landlord’s obligation for reimbursing the tenant’s hotel expenses.


landlord seeking legal action about paying for a hotel room in california

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– Documenting Expenses and Hotel Bills

It is vital for tenants to keep thorough records and receipts of all expenses incurred during the displacement period. 

This includes hotel receipts, meals, transportation costs, and any additional expenses related to the temporary housing. Accurate documentation helps establish the validity and reasonableness of the expenses and supports the tenant’s claim for reimbursement. 

– Necessary information to include on hotel bills for reimbursement

When submitting hotel bills for reimbursement, tenants should ensure that the bills contain necessary information such as the tenant’s name, dates of stay, room rate, and a breakdown of charges. 

Including this information helps the landlord or the court assess the reasonableness of the expenses and simplifies the reimbursement process.

– Additional expenses that may be reimbursed

In addition to a tenant’s hotel room expenses, they may also be eligible for reimbursement of other reasonable expenses incurred during the displacement period. 

For example, if tenants had to rent storage space for their belongings or incur transportation costs to commute from the temporary housing to work or school, these additional expenses may also be eligible for reimbursement.

What About Renters Insurance?


Renters insurance is a type of insurance policy designed specifically for tenants who rent a residential property, such as an apartment or a house. 

It provides financial protection for the personal belongings of the tenant and offers liability coverage in case of certain accidents or damages that occur within the rented property.

Here are some key aspects of renters insurance:

– Personal Property Coverage

Renter’s insurance protects the tenant’s personal belongings from covered perils such as fire, theft, vandalism, water damage, or natural disasters. 

It typically covers items like furniture, clothing, electronics, appliances, and other personal possessions. If these belongings are damaged, destroyed, or stolen, the insurance policy can help with the cost of repair, replacement, or reimbursement.

– Additional Living Expenses 

In the event that the rented property becomes uninhabitable due to a covered peril, renters insurance can provide coverage for additional living expenses. 

This coverage helps with the cost of temporary accommodation, meals, and other necessary expenses while the tenant is unable to stay in their rented home.

It’s important to note that renters insurance typically does not cover the structure of the rented property itself, as that is the responsibility of the landlord’s insurance.

Additionally, certain perils, such as floods or earthquakes, may not be included in standard renters insurance policies and may require additional coverage or separate policies.

Renters insurance is not legally required by California law, but many landlords strongly recommend or require tenants to obtain it as part of their rental contract. 

It provides valuable protection for tenants and can offer peace of mind by safeguarding personal belongings and offering liability coverage.


tenant experiencing problems with water damage in LA

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When The Tenant Is To Blame


While landlords in California have certain responsibilities to provide habitable rental properties and may be obligated to offer temporary housing in specific situations, there are instances where landlords may not be required to pay for a tenant’s hotel room or temporary accommodation. 


Here are a few examples:

– Tenant-caused damage or negligence 

If the need for temporary accommodation arises due to damage caused by the tenant’s negligence or intentional actions, the landlord may not be responsible for providing or covering the cost of temporary housing. 

For instance, if the tenant caused a fire through careless behavior, resulting in the property becoming uninhabitable, the landlord may argue that the tenant is responsible for securing their own temporary housing.

– Voluntary temporary relocation

If a tenant voluntarily decides to temporarily relocate due to personal reasons unrelated to the habitability of the rental property, such as travel, renovations, or personal preferences, the landlord may not be obligated to provide or pay for temporary accommodation.

– Force majeure events

In certain exceptional circumstances, often referred to as force majeure events or acts of God, such as major natural disasters or government-mandated evacuations, the responsibility for temporary accommodation may not fall solely on the landlord. 

Local laws and rental agreements may specify the rights and responsibilities of both parties in such cases.

Keep in mind that the specific circumstances and applicable laws may vary, and it is important to consult the relevant local regulations, as well as the lease agreement, to determine the exact rights and obligations of landlords and tenants in providing or paying for temporary accommodation. 

Additionally, seeking legal advice or assistance from tenant rights organizations can provide valuable guidance in situations where there is a dispute or uncertainty regarding the landlord responsibilities for temporary housing.



Landlords in California have legal responsibilities to provide habitable rental properties and may be obligated to offer temporary housing when the primary property becomes uninhabitable. 

However, it’s important to recognize that there are circumstances where the landlord may not be required to pay for a tenant’s temporary accommodation, as dictated by state laws.

Understanding these obligations and exceptions is crucial for both landlords and tenants. 

Reviewing and understanding the rental agreement is essential to grasp the rights and responsibilities of both parties during temporary displacement situations, including any provisions related to relocation assistance or the tenant’s responsibility for their hotel stay.

In cases where temporary displacement occurs and reimbursement claims are involved, open communication between tenants and landlords becomes paramount. 

Both parties should maintain a respectful and collaborative approach to resolving disputes, taking into account the specific circumstances and legal obligations outlined in the tenant’s lease agreement and relevant laws.

If there is uncertainty or disagreement regarding the landlord’s responsibilities for providing temporary accommodation, seeking legal advice or guidance from tenant rights organizations can offer valuable assistance in navigating these complex situations.

For landlords who find themselves overwhelmed by the intricacies of managing temporary displacement, reimbursement claims, and other property management responsibilities, hiring a professional property management company is a viable option. 

These experienced professionals are well-versed in state and local laws, ensuring compliance with legal obligations. 

By entrusting your property management needs to a reputable company, you can focus on other aspects of your life while ensuring your rental units are well-managed.




Disclaimer:  Advice given in this article apply to the general rules and regulations governing this topic in California and does not qualify as legal advice.