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As of January 1, 2001, a landlord must give the tenant at least 30 days’ advance notice if the rent increase is 10 percent (or less) of the rent charged at any time during the 12 months before the rent increase takes effect. A landlord must give 60 days’ advance notice if the rent increase is greater than 10 percent. (Civil Code Section 827b.). Certain cities, such as Los Angeles, can have different provisions regarding how much rent may be increased.
A landlord's notice of rent increase must be in writing. The landlord may deliver a copy of the notice to you personally. In this case, the rent increase takes effect in 30 or 60 days from the date the notice is delivered.
Alternately, the landlord may mail the notice to you, with proper postage and addressed to you at the rental unit. If the landlord mails the notice, he or she must give you an additional five days' notice. That means the landlord would have to give you 35 days' notice from the date of mailing if the rent increase is 10 percent or less. If it is more than 10 percent, 65 days' notice is required.
While the statute doesn't directly address this, I would say it is clear that without notice, there cannot be a rent increase. Therefore, I would argue that no, the landlord cannot demand back rent. Once they give notice in accordance with the law (California Civil Code Section 827) then they can seek a rent increase.
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