California Lease Agreements (6) | Residential & Commercial

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Updated August 24, 2022

A California lease agreement allows a landlord of residential or commercial property to write a legally binding rental contract with a tenant. The agreement will describe the property, specify the monthly rent, and list the responsibilities of both parties. After signing, the tenant will be obligated to pay the first (1st) month’s rent and a security deposit, if any, before access is given to the premises. Both landlord and tenant will be bound to the terms of the agreement until the lease end date.

Rental Application – Should be used by the lessor before signing a contract to help verify that the individual applying for the space is credible.

Table of Contents

Agreement Types (6)


Commercial Lease Agreement – For the use of any business by an individual or entity with an owner of office, retail, or industrial property.

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Month-to-Month Lease Agreement (Section 1946) – Rental contract with no end date. Either party may cancel with 30 days’ notice, if the tenancy is less than 1 year, and 60 days if the lease is more than a year.

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Rent-to-Own Lease Agreement – Traditionally a fixed-term contract with the added benefit of being able to buy the residence during a stated “option” period.

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Room Rental (Roommate) Agreement – For a residence with more than one (1) individual seeking to separately occupy bedrooms while sharing common areas.

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Standard Lease Agreement– Most common type of residential lease for an established term, usually one (1) year, and both parties are bound to the terms until its end date.

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Sublease Agreement – A tenant that decides to rent space they are currently involved in a lease with the landlord. Usually, the tenant must receive written confirmation before authorizing a sub-lessee.

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Required Disclosures (12)

AB 1482 Just Cause and Rent Limit Addendum (CIV 1946.2(e)) & 1947.12(d)(5)(B)(i)) – AB 1482 is a law that went into effect in California on Jan. 1, 2020. It has two main impacts: (1) it limits how much a landlord may increase the rent on a property from year to year, and (2) it requires that a landlord have “just cause” for terminating a tenancy. For any tenancy beginning after July 1, 2020, all tenants must be provided with a written notice, with the following printed in size 12-point font or larger:

California law limits the amount your rent can be increased. See Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code for more information. California law also provides that after all of the tenants have continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 12 months or more or at least one of the tenants has continuously and lawfully occupied the property for 24 months or more, a landlord must provide a statement of cause in any notice to terminate a tenancy. See Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code for more information

All of the tenants at a property must sign the notice, and an additional copy should be provided to the tenants.

The rent increase limits and just cause requirements apply to almost every residential rental property in the state. However, the following types of property are exempt:

  • Units constructed in the last 15 years;
  • Units restricted by a deed, regulatory restrictions, or other recorded document limiting the affordability to low or moderate-income households;
  • Certain dormitories owned and operated by an institution of higher education or a kindergarten and grades 1 to 12;
  • A property containing two separate dwelling units within a single structure, provided the owner occupies one of the units; and
  • Single-family homes only if they are not owned by a real estate trust, a corporation, or an LLC with at least one corporate managing member;
  • Units that are already subject to a local rent control ordinance.

Note that, if the owner of the property is a real estate investment trust, a corporation, or a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation, these exemptions do not apply.

If a property does fit into one of these exemptions, then landlords are required to provide the attached document to each tenant at the property. The tenants must sign the document, and return it to the landlords, who must also provide the tenants with an additional copy.

Bedbug Addendum (CIV § 1942.5(a)(1)) – The landlord acknowledges that there is prior no existence of bedbugs before move-in by the tenant in addition to the tenant confirming that their furniture does not contain the insect.

Demolition (CIV § 1940.6) – If the landlord has received any type of permit from their respective municipal office to demolish a residential unit it must be disclosed to the tenant before accepting a rental contract or deposit.

Death on Premises (CIV § 1710.2) – A landlord must disclose to a prospective tenant a death that occurred in the unit if it is considered to be material, but is not required to disclose a death that occurred more than three years before the tenant offers to lease the unit, or if a previous occupant had HIV or died from AIDS-related complications.

Flood Disclosure (PDF, MS Word, ODT) (GOV § 8589.45) – Mandatory as of July 1, 2018. The lessor is required to inform the tenant if the property is located in any special flood area.

Lead-Based Paint Disclosure – For any housing type built prior to 1978 to notify the habitants of the unit that the hazardous material of lead paint may exist in the under-layers of paint in their walls/ceilings.

Megan’s Law Disclosure (PDF | MS Word | ODT) (CIV § 2079.10a) – The following statement is required to be in every residential contract written in California:

“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 Web site 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.”

Mold Disclosure (HSC § 26147 & 26148) – The landlord must disclose to the tenant the health risks of mold by attaching the document to the agreement.

Ordinance Locations (CIV § 1940.7(b)) – The landlord of a residential dwelling unit who has actual knowledge of any former federal or state ordinance locations in the neighborhood area shall give written notice to a prospective tenant of that knowledge prior to the execution of a rental agreement.

Pest Control (GOV § 1099) – If any remediation has been conducted on the property, an inspection report provided by the pest control company must be also forwarded to the tenant.

Shared Utilities (CIV § 1940.9) – If the unit has a shared electrical or gas meter, the agreement must state how the utilities shall be split between the parties.

Smoking Policy Disclosure (CIV § 1947.5) – Landlord must state if smoking is tolerated, the areas for which it is allowed including any and all common areas.

Optional Disclosures

Asbestos Addendum – For the existence of this substance in a property.

Carbon Monoxide Detector Compliance Form (§ 17926.1) – Landlord is required to have carbon monoxide monitors throughout all living units that have fossil-fuel-based heaters and/or appliances.

CC&Rs Addendum – Acknowledgment of declaration of covenants, conditions, restrictions, and association rules and regulations.

Grilling Guidelines – Sets the rules for the tenant if the use of a grill is allowed.

Move-In/Move-Out Inspection Checklist – To list any damage prior to move-in before the lease commencement and at it’s so the parties may see any added damage/repairs to the property. Most commonly the damage (if any) will be reflected in the tenant’s security deposit when returned by the landlord.

Personal Guarantee – Gets an individual’s promise to pay for a written rental contract. Typically used when the tenant is high-risk and this form is designated for a creditable co-signer.

Pet Agreement (PDF | MS Word) – If the tenant has a pet and would like to have it on the landlord’s property.

Pool & Hot Tub Addendum – For the use of a jacuzzi and/or pool on the premises.

Renter’s Insurance Addendum – If the landlord requires the tenant to have liability insurance.

Resident Policies and House Rules – Sets standard rules and parameters for the tenant to follow.

Satellite Dish Addendum – All lessee’s in the State of California have the right to install a satellite dish on the property if they wish as long as it conforms to all local and State laws.

Unlawful Activities Addendum – Tenant, or their guest, may not conduct any of the activities listed in the document or else will be considered criminal and immediate removal (eviction) from the property.

Water Submeter Addendum – Residential landlords are required in some cases to notify tenants of issues related to water submeters. Therefore, the form (C.A.R. Form WSM) advises a tenant of an estimate of the billing, how the actual billing will work and what can be included in the bill, and who to contact if there are any questions, among other items.

*If you could not find your desired disclosure form check the Apartment Association of California’s Index Page.

Security Deposits

Maximum (§ 1950.5) – If furnished three (3) months’ rent. If unfurnished two (2) months’ rent.

Returning (§ 1950.5) – Landlord shall return any and all deposits within twenty-one (21) days from the time the tenant moved out of the property. Any deductions should be listed in an itemized statement.

When is Rent Due?

Rent is due on the day stated in the lease agreement.

If the tenant is late on rent, the landlord can send them a 3-day notice to quit which requires the tenant to pay the full amount due (incl. penalties) or vacate the property. If the tenant does neither then the landlord may begin eviction proceedings.

Late Fees

Late fees must be “reasonable” (CIV § 1671). Los Angeles County has deemed 5% of the monthly rent to be reasonable.

Right to Enter (Landlord)

*No notice required.

Giving Notice

A Right to Enter Notice must be either:

  • Personally delivered to the tenant;
  • Left with someone of a suitable age at the property;
  • Left on, near, or under the usual entry door of the premises in a manner in which a reasonable person would discover the notice; or
  • Mailing at least six days prior to an intended entry is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary.

Source: CIV § 1954(d)(1)

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