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Last Update June 12th, 2024

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What is a Residential Lease Agreement

A Residential Lease Agreement is a legal contract between a landlord and a tenant. This is written to conform to state laws (for example, California lease agreements are tailored to the laws of California) on residency and rental real estate.

It also outlines the most important details of the agreement between the two parties such as:

  • How long the tenant may legally occupy the property
  • The amount and due date of each rental installment
  • Additional fees and costs that the tenant is responsible for
  • Terms that police the use of the property
  • Violations that will void the agreement
  • Eviction procedures

Common Uses of CA Lease Agreement

California Lease Agreements can be used to manage and legally bind many different types of rental situations. This allows both landlords and tenants to flexibly choose the best kind of contractual arrangement to suit their respective needs.

The most common uses of CA Lease Agreements are as follows:

  • Lease agreements: Under a standard lease agreement both the landlord and tenant commit to a fixed set of terms that last for a series of months or years.
  • Rent-to-own lease agreements: Lease agreements with rent-to-own options are designed for tenants that wish to buy the property they are renting. This requires them to pay a sum of money each month, in addition to rent, to cover the costs of the principal.
  • Month-to-month rental agreements: Month-to-month lease agreements will often have similar basic terms to standard residential lease contracts. However, they differ as they can be renewed or ended on a month-by-month basis. Their terms may also be flexibly altered each month.
  • Commercial lease agreements: Commercial leases are provided by landlords of retail property to tenants that intend to use the real estate to run a business.
  • Room rental agreements: In room rental properties with shared living areas a room rental agreement can be used to rent a singular bedroom.
  • Sublease agreements: When a tenant would like to rent out the property they are renting to another individual, they should use a sublease agreement. This should be done after receiving permission from the landlord.

California Lease Agreement Laws

There are a few specificities to be careful of when creating a California lease agreement.

California law sets strict rules on considerations for landlords that you must follow.

Security Deposits

In unfurnished properties, landlords can demand no more than 2 months’ rent as a security deposit. This rises to 3 months if the property is furnished (CA CIV § 1950.5 (c) (1)).

At the end of the lease if the tenant complies with the lease’s terms when vacating the property the landlord must return the security deposit within 21 days of them moving out (CA CIV § 1950.5 (g) (1-3)).

Landlord’s Right to Enter

Landlords can enter the rental property by giving 24 hours’ advance notice (a written notice is recommended) ([CA CIV § 1954(d)(1)). ](http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&sectionNum=1954. CIV § 1954(d)(1)).|_blank)

However, 48 hours’ notice is required before the landlord may enter to give the final inspection before the tenant moves out (CA CIV § 1950.5(f)(1)).

Late Fees

In California any late fee that you charge must be considered “reasonable”. A fee of 5% of the monthly rent is considered the maximum in Los Angeles County (CA CIV § 1671).

A non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee is set at $25 for the first bounced check and $35 for any bounced check afterward (CA CIV § 1719).

Warranty of Habitability

Landlords are required to keep their rental properties in livable condition. This must always be followed whether your agreement has included this warranty or not (CA CIV § 1941.1).

Required Disclosures for CA Lease Agreements

California law requires a number of important disclosures to appear in completed CA Lease Agreements. This is to properly inform the tenant of any health risks or potential issues with the property that they must be aware of. These essential addendums may include:

  • Methamphetamine contamination disclosure: Necessary for properties where the landlord knows or suspects the use, storage, or production of methamphetamine has taken place (CA HSC § 25400.16).
  • Mold disclosure: Essential for properties where health risks may occur due to mold (CA HSC § 26141).
  • Military ordinance disclosure: Properties located within 1 mile of known military testing facilities must disclose the fact (CA HSC § 26141).
  • Death in a rental unit disclosure: A crucial addendum for properties and units where a death has occurred within the last 3 years (excluding HIV and AIDS-related deaths) (CA CIV § 1710.2).
  • Pest control disclosure: Rental units that use pesticides for infestations or with pest control schedules must clearly disclose this information.
  • Bedbug disclosure: All rental units must provide an addendum that advises on how to prevent bedbug infestations (CA CIV § 1954.6039).
  • Demolition permit order: Essential for properties that are scheduled to be demolished during the residential term (CA CIV § 1940.6).
  • Sex offender registry notice: All rental contracts in California must provide an addendum that residents have the right to access information on the sex offenders register (CA CIV § 2079.10a).
  • Shared Utilities: The agreement is required to state how the cost of utilities are shared between the parties. If the unit has a shared electrical or gas meter for example this information must be provided (CA CIV § 1940.9).
  • Smoking policy: If smoking is allowed it must be mentioned in the agreement, as well as where on the property it is permitted (CA CIV § 1947.5).
  • Megan’s law disclosure: Every Residential Lease Agreement in California must have the following statement included (CA CIV § 2079.10a): “Notice: Pursuant to Section 290.46 of the Penal Code, information about specified registered sex offenders is made available to the public via an Internet Website maintained by the Department of Justice at www.meganslaw.ca.gov. Depending on an offender’s criminal history, this information will include either the address at which the offender resides or the community of residence and ZIP Code in which he or she resides.”

Optional Disclosures in CA

There are also disclosures that you must be aware of regarding health and safety.

Depending on the year the property was built and its appliances you may need to include the following disclosures.

  • Asbestos disclosure: If built from 1980 onwards there is no obligation to disclose information on asbestos. However, it is obligatory for all properties built before 1979 where asbestos is known to be present by the landlord (CA HSC § 25915 - 25919.7).
  • Carbon Monoxide Detector: In all residential units with fossil-fuel-based heaters and appliances, landlords must have carbon monoxide monitors (CA CIV § 17926.1).

How to Write a California Lease Agreement

When you draft your California Lease Agreement it will be essential that you include all the required information.

Introduce the following sections to correctly write your legal document.

  1. Mention the parties: This section includes the date of the agreement and the full names of the tenant and landlord. parties in a lease agreement
  2. Specify the address and use of the property: The address and the property’s use will be stated here. property and use of property in a lease agreement
  3. Include the term: The start and end dates must be added to this section as well as if the tenant may continue at the end of the term. Terms in a Lease agreement
  4. State the payment options and amount: The amount the tenant must pay is listed here as well as how they will pay it (cash, money order, etc.), as well as the late fee amount. Rent and Payment in a lease agreement
  5. Provide security deposit information: Details regarding the amount of the security deposit as well as how it will be returned must be included. security deposit in a lease agreement
  6. Include any occupants: If anyone is going to be living in the rental property apart from the paying tenant, you can list them here. Occupants in a lease agreement
  7. Specify how utilities will be paid for: This section will state who pays for the utilities, and whether all will be paid for by the tenant or some by the landlord.
  8. List the furnishings: In this section, you’ll add a list of any furnishings that are found on the property. Utilities and furnishing in a lease agreement
  9. Add your signature: Both you and the other party must sign and date the agreement. Your names in print must also be added. Signatures in a lease agreement

California Residential Lease Agreement Sample

Before starting your own rental lease agreement, it can help to first examine a professional example document. To get an idea of how your final form should appear read through our California Residential Lease Agreement sample below.

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Residential Lease Agreement California Sample

Other Real Estate Documents

Besides lease agreements, there are various other legal documents that are commonly used by landlords. If you are the owner of a rental property, one of the following forms may be helpful for you:

California Lease Agreement FAQs

It is important to carefully prepare a California lease agreement to suit the needs of the landlord and tenant exactly. If you still have any doubts about what to include in your final document, browse our FAQs below to find the answers you need.

How to Get a Lease Agreement in California?

It is possible to create a California Lease Agreement completely online.

Using our Residential Lease Agreement maker you can tailor your document tofor your specific needs and take advantage of professional templates and expert tips.

Alternatively, it is possible to find forms and templates from the California Association of Realtors, which can be manually completed by landlords. Another option is to call upon the services of an attorney to draw up the document, although this carries additional costs.

How to Renew a Lease Agreement in CA?

There are a number of ways to renew Lease Agreements in California. First of all, landlords and tenants can negotiate and agree on a new contract to replace an older expiring document. It is also possible to create an automatic renewal provision in the agreement for when it ends.

In the case of automatic renewal options, assuming no notice to end the agreement is given by either party before it expires, the contract will become either a month-to-month agreement or renewed for an additional term.

Furthermore, it is important to be aware that if the landlord continues to receive rent from the occupant after the lease ends, the resident will become an at-will tenant. This means that the landlord will need to give sufficient notice before requiring the occupants to vacate the property.

How to Write a CA Lease Termination Letter?

If either the landlord or tenant for any reason needs to terminate a CA lease agreement early, they must provide the correct amount of notice in a written CA lease termination letter.

This letter needs to contain the following information:

  • The name of the landlord and the tenant
  • The date the letter has been written and signed
  • The name and address of the property in question
  • Information explaining why the tenancy needs to be terminated early
  • The reason the lease is being broken
  • The date that the resident will vacate the property
  • Acknowledgement of any penalties that will be incurred
  • Signature of the signing party
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Residential Lease Agreement California Sample

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Preview of your California Residential Lease Agreement

APPLICATION TO RENT
The following sections must be completed by the Applicant. Please note that, except for married couples, each occupant who is 18 years of age or older has to complete a separate application to rent.

Shall the Applicant have any question regarding the rental unit, please contact _________ at:
Email Address: _________
Phone: _________
The Applicant is a: (check one)

(   ) Tenant
(   ) Tenant with co-tenant(s)
(   ) Guarantor/co-signor
PROPERTY INFORMATION
Application to rent property located at the following address:

_________ , _________, CA _________

Type of Property: House
Date of Availability: _________
Proposed Move-In Date: _________
APPLICANT'S INFORMATION

Please attach a copy of your Driver's License, State ID, Military ID, or Passport.
FULL NAME OF APPLICANT: ________________________________________________________________
Date of Birth: _________________________ (Optional. For purpose of obtaining credit reports. Age discrimination is prohibited by state and federal law)
Driver's license number or any valid ID: _________________ State: ______________ Expires: _________________________
Email Address: ____________________________________________________
Home Phone: (______) ___________ Alternative Phone: (______) ___________
CO-APPLICANT'S INFORMATION (if applicable)
Please attach a copy of your Driver's License, State ID, Military ID, or Passport.

FULL NAME OF CO-APPLICANT: ________________________________________________________________
Date of Birth: _________________________ (Optional)
Driver's license number or any valid ID: _________________ State: ______________ Expires: _________________________
Email Address: ____________________________________________________
Home Phone: (______) ___________ Alternative Phone: (______) ___________
OTHER OCCUPANTS’ INFORMATION (if applicable)
Name: ____________________________________________________________________
Relation to Applicant: ______________________ Date of Birth: ______________ (Optional)

Name: ____________________________________________________________________
Relation to Applicant: ______________________ Date of Birth: ______________ (Optional)
EMERGENCY CONTACT

In case of emergency, please contact:

Emergency contact #1: ____________________________________________________
Relationship: _______________________
Address: ____________________________________________________________________
Phone: _______________________
Email Address: ____________________________________________________
Emergency contact #2: ____________________________________________________
Relationship: _______________________
Address: ____________________________________________________________________
Phone: _______________________
Email Address: ____________________________________________________
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Pets
Pets are not allowed in the rental property. However, as provided by law, a Service Animal(s) is not considered a pet, and every individual with a disability shall have a right to have a Service Animal(s) on the Property.
Waterbeds
The Landlord prohibits the use of waterbeds on the rental unit.
Smoking and Vaping
The Landlord does not allow smoking or vaping in the rental unit.
CONSENT & ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

By signing this Residential Rental Application, the Applicant accepts and agrees to the following:
(i)This is only an application to rent and does not guarantee that the Applicant will be selected as a tenant of the premises.
(ii)The Landlord or Manager or his/her authorized Agent could receive multiple rental applications for the premises and will only select the most qualified individual.
(iii)Applicant represents the above information to be true and complete.
Applicant hereby authorizes the Landlord or Manager or his/her authorized Agent to do the following:
(i)Verify all of the personal information provided above.
(ii)Obtain a credit report, as well as other reports, on the Applicant.
(iii)Applicant further authorizes the Landlord or Manager or his/her authorized Agent to disclose information to the owners or agents of the premises with whom the Applicant intends to have a rental relationship.
Does the Applicant wish to receive a copy of the reports that we may obtain?Yes (   )     No (   )     

Notice of Non-Discrimination

The Landlord does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any approval/disapproval of this application.


__________________________________________
Applicant's SignatureDate
__________________________________________
Co-Applicant's SignatureDate
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