Calif. Civil Code §§1940.10; 4750

Added by A.B. 2561

Effective date: January 1, 2016

Residential landlords of 1-to-2 unit properties may not prohibit tenants from growing food crops in private outdoor spaces for personal consumption or off-site donation. Crops may be grown in portable outdoor containers of a type and in a configuration approved by the landlord. The portable containers are to be located only on the ground level of the rental property, i.e., no balconies or rooftops.

The following restrictions apply:

  • the tenant is required to regularly remove dead plants and weeds;
  • the growing containers may not impede access, obstruct parking spaces or cause a safety issue; and
  • the crops may not interfere with maintenance of the property.

Landlords may prohibit the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and other hazardous substances. Additionally, they may require the tenant to agree in writing to pay for any excess water or waste removal fees related to the crops.

A landlord may still restrict a tenant from growing food crops directly in the soil of a rental property. The landlord may inspect growing areas to ensure compliance, after serving 24 hours’ written notice of inspection to the tenant. [Calif. Civil Code §1954(D)(1)]

Common interest developments

Likewise, any homeowners’ association (HOA) bylaw which prohibits the owner of a common interest development (CID) unit from planting food crops in the owner’s private backyard is unenforceable. However, an HOA may:

  • enact reasonable restrictions to personal agriculture (e.g., limiting the height of plants grown) which do not increase the cost of growing crops; and
  • require the owner to remove dead plants and weeds.

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