California Lease Agreements (6) | Residential & Commercial

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Updated January 11, 2023

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 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 landlord before signing a contract to help verify that the individual applying for the space is credible.

Table of Contents

Agreement Types (6)

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

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Commercial Lease Agreement – For use for any business by an individual or entity with an owner of an 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 one 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 individual seeking to occupy bedrooms while sharing common areas separately.

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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 (13)

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 and 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 property owner 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 fits 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 them with an additional copy.

Bedbug Addendum (CIV § 1942.5(a)(1)) – Gives the landlord’s acknowledgment that there are no ed bugs on the property. It is required for the tenants to read the guidelines for not transporting the insects and sign the document.

Demolition (CIV § 1940.6) – If the landlord has received permission 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 within the last three (3) years. If a person dies from HIV, it is excepted.

Flood Hazard Area Disclosure (PDF, MS Word, ODT) (GOV § 8589.45) – Mandatory as of July 1, 2018. The landlord must inform the tenant if the property is in a flood hazard area. The landlord will be considered to have “actual knowledge” of being in a flood hazard area if:

  • The landlord has received written notice from any public agency stating that the property is located in a special flood hazard area or an area of potential flooding;
  • The property is located in an area in which the owner’s mortgage holder requires the owner to carry flood insurance; or
  • The owner currently carries flood insurance.

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.

Ordnance Locations (CIV § 1940.7(b)) – The landlord of a residential dwelling unit who knows any former federal or state ordnance locations in the neighborhood area shall give written notice to a prospective tenant of that knowledge before 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 also be 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) – The landlord must display if smoking is permitted, the areas for which it is allowed, including common areas.

Methamphetamine or Fentanyl Contamination Disclosure (Health & Safety Code § 25400.28) – The landlord must provide written notice to all prospective tenants if the dwelling unit has been deemed contaminated or in remediation, and the landlord shall provide the prospective tenant with a copy of the order.

Optional Disclosures

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

Carbon Monoxide Detector Compliance Form (§ 17926.1) – The 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 before move-in before the lease commencement and at it 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, this form is designated for a creditable co-signer.

Pet Agreement (PDF | MS Word) – If the tenant has a pet.

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 cannot 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) – The 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 total amount due (incl. penalties) or vacate the property. If the tenant does neither, then the landlord may begin eviction proceedings.

Late Fees

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

NSF Fee (CIV § 1719) – $25 for the first (1st) bounced check and $35 for each subsequent check.

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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