Free California Lease Agreements (Residential / Commercial)

California-Residential-Lease-Agreement

The lease agreement of California is a document detailing all the rights, obligations, terms, and conditions that landlords and tenants must respect for the duration of the lease.

It specifies the property’s condition, alongside a thorough property description, the length of the tenancy, the rental amount, due payment dates, additional fees and security deposits required, the number of tenants, accepted payment options, and more. Once signed, lease agreements are legally binding, meaning no changes can be made during the period covered – not without the consent of all the parties involved.

For instance, landlords cannot change the rental amount, nor do they have the right to terminate the tenancy without just cause (which we’ll get into in a moment). Additionally, tenants are liable for covering the total rental amount specified in the contract if they decide to terminate the tenancy early. Therefore, if the lease agreement covers 12 months and the tenant decides to move out in the ninth month, they still have to provide rent for three months.

California lease agreements are designed to protect the landlord and the tenant, offering more excellent stability and inspiring more trust between the parties.

Types of California’s Lease Agreement

Considering that there are many unique leasing and renting situations, California’s lease agreement has different types. Take a look at them below:

Commercial lease agreement

As a general rule, renting requires significantly less capital investment than buying a commercial property. Hence, most business owners prefer to enter commercial lease agreements. They’re used for offices, retail spaces, and industrial properties. Although similar to standard residential lease agreements, the commercial ones are unique. The tenants can renegotiate the terms, and the landlord can offer variable conditions to different applicants for the same property.Moreover, they cover a more extended period than residential agreements, usually running for five years or more.

Rent-to-own lease agreement

Since home ownership is becoming more challenging in California and across the US, many prospective buyers without the option to take out a mortgage choose to enter rent-to-own lease agreements. It’s a contract obliging the tenant to rent a property for a predetermined amount of time, with the option to buy the property before the lease expires.Depending on the type of rent-to-own lease agreement, the prospective buyer will have to sign either the lease option or the lease-purchase agreement. With the lease-option agreement, the tenant isn’t required to purchase once their tenancy is terminated, but they have that right if they want to.With the lease-purchase agreement, they are legally obligated to make the purchase. In either situation, it’s common for the portion of the rent to go towards the final purchase price in rent-to-own agreements.

Month-to-month lease agreement

They offer more flexibility as neither the landlords nor the tenants have been tied to the contract for a long time. However, they are open to more frequent rent increases and offer less stability – both the tenant and the landlord can cancel the contract at any time.The landlord is obliged to provide a termination notice at least 30 days in advance to tenants who’ve been on the property for one year or less. Those who’ve been on a property with a month-to-month lease agreement for over a year will receive a 60-day termination notice. Ideally, the landlord will use USPS’ certified mail to send the termination notice.

Roommate lease agreement

Unlike other lease agreements in California, a roommate lease agreement doesn’t involve a landlord or a property manager. Instead, it’s a legally binding contract between the tenants living on the same property. It specifies the shared expenses, rental amount, rent due dates, and house chores that each tenant is responsible for.  Whether all of the roommates or just one of them is listed on the lease depends on the specific arrangement. Every county in California will have unique rules for the roommate lease agreement, so it would be a good idea to familiarize yourself with the regulations in your area before signing anything.

Standard California residential lease agreement

The standard residential lease agreement is a contract between the landlord (or property manager) and the tenant. As a fixed-term agreement, it will most commonly cover the period of 12 months, after which the terms, conditions, rules, and obligations become negotiable. Standard lease agreements can cover periods of over 18 months, but they’ll rarely be shorter than six months.Prospective tenants will usually pay a small fee and go through a rental application process and property viewing. If they’re approved, they will sign the lease agreement, provide a security deposit, and pay the rent for the first month or the first three months, depending on the terms.

Sublease agreement

Finally, a sublease agreement is a contract allowing the tenant to re-rent a property to a third party. Depending on the terms and conditions of the original lease agreement, this may or may not be allowed.  If subleasing is allowed, the original tenant may transfer a part of their tenancy to another. However, the original tenant is still responsible for paying rent and additional fees to the landlord and covering any damages that the third party may cause.Subleasing is common in instances where the original tenant has to move before the end of their lease agreement (such as when transferring to a different city for a sudden job opportunity).

Required Disclosures

California lease agreements are complicated contracts that must include several disclosures to protect landlords and tenants better. Take a look at the following required disclosures of the lease agreements of California:

AB 1482 just cause addendum (CIV 1946.2(e)) & 1947.12(d)(5)(B)(i)

However, the tenants and landlords must sign the just cause addendum for all units that are exempt from rent caps and just cause regulations, including property constructed in the past 15 years, dormitories, two-unit properties, single-family homes, and condominiums (as long as they’re not owned by real estate trusts, corporations, or LLCs with at least one corporate member), and units restricted by deeds, regulations, and other documents that limit the affordability of the property to low and moderate-income households.

Bedbug addendum CIV § 1942.5(a)(1)

The bedbug addendum is an addition to the lease agreement in California stating that the property is free of bedbugs upon the beginning of the tenancy. An inspection must be conducted beforehand, offering proof of the claim.

When signing the bedbug addendum, the tenant will most commonly have to agree to give access to pest control experts to enter the property during their tenancy for inspection and potential treatment.

The addendum can help define whether the tenant or the landlord is responsible for bed bug extermination in case of an infestation.

Demolition (CIV § 1940.6)

The demolition addendum obliges the landlord to disclose to the tenant whether they’ve obtained a permit to demolish the property. The tenant must give the disclosure before they’ve signed the lease agreement and paid the required deposit.

Death on-premises (CIV § 1710.2)

If there was a death on the premises within the past three years, the landlord must disclose the fact to the tenant before signing the agreement. However, the landlord is not obliged to disclose the information if the previous tenant had human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or died due to AIDS. 

Flood disclosure (GOV § 8589.45)

The flood disclosure requires the landlord to disclose whether the rental property is located in a flood-prone area.

Lead-based paint disclosure

The lead-based paint disclosure requires the landlord of any property built before 1978 to notify the tenant of any lead-based paint on the walls or ceilings, even if it’s covered with new layers of lead-free paint.

Megan’s law disclosure (CIV § 2079.10a)

Megan’s law disclosure is an essential addition to all California lease agreements. It notifies tenants that they can learn about the registered sex offenders in their area by visiting the www.meganslaw.ca.gov website. Some offenders will have published information on their general area and ZIP code, while others will have their specified address published.

Mold disclosure (HSC § 26147 & 26148)

The mold disclosure obliges the landlord to notify all future tenants of the presence of mold on the property. However, such notification isn’t necessary if the problem is solved.

Ordinance locations (CIV § 1940.7(b))

Ordinance location disclosures require landlords to inform tenants of any property in the neighborhood that was used as a state or federal ordinance location.

Pest control (GOV § 1099)

If the property has used the services of a pest control company to remediate any pest problem, the landlord must provide the tenant with the inspection report.

Shared utilities (CIV § 1940.9)

On properties where some utilities, such as gas or electricity, are shared between tenants (or tenants and the landlord), the landlord must specify precisely how the costs will be split in California’s lease agreement.

Smoking policy disclosure (CIV § 1947.5)

Finally, all lease agreements must include a smoking policy disclosure stating whether smoking is allowed on the property. The disclosure should also include details about smoking rules in the common areas and areas around the property.

Downloadable Sample

Considering just how extensive California’s lease agreements are and how critical it is to include all the relevant details and disclosures, drafting this document can be arduous. Writing it from scratch leaves too much room for human error and poses additional risks when you don’t use the proper terminology. That’s why it’s in landlords’ and tenants’ best interests to use templates of the lease agreements of California.

This website provides template of California’s lease agreement, and the template is free to download, easy to use, and even easier to understand.

 california lease agreement 2022

    Landlord’s and Tenant’s Laws

    For all the terms, conditions, rights, and obligations to be respected, both landlords and tenants need to be aware of the active laws in the state of California. Following are some of the primary laws which need to be considered:

    Landlord’s access to the property

    Although the tenant occupies the rental property, the landlord still has the right to access it when needed.

    General access (CIV Code § 1954(d)(1))

    For general access, such as maintenance visits, inspections, rent collection, and the like, the landlord must give the tenant at least a 24-hours’ notice before entering the property. The notice can be delivered personally, given to an occupant of suitable age, left at the entry door, or sent via mail at least six days in advance.

    Emergency access (CIV Code § 1954)

    A landlord has the right to enter the property in the case of an emergency without providing prior notice.

    Rent

    California has several rent laws that protect the tenant and the landlord.

    When is rent due

    The due date of the rent has to be included in the lease agreement, alongside all accepted payment methods. The due date is commonly the first of the month, but it is negotiable.

    In cases when the tenant is late with their rent payments, the landlord is required to send them a three-day notice to quit. The notice obliges the tenant to pay the full rent amount, including any late penalties, or vacate the property. If the tenant doesn’t provide payment or vacate the property, the landlord can choose to evict them.

    Maximum fees

    California has no unified laws regarding late fees. However, any late fees cannot be higher than the reasonable estimates of the landlord’s expenses that have resulted from the late payment. Most commonly, the late rent fee will equal 5% to 10% of the monthly rent value, although there are no statutes that provide a definitive percentage.

    Rent increase notice (CIV Code § 827(b)(2-3))

    If the landlord intends to increase the rent, they have to provide a 30-day notice to the tenant. If the increase is greater than 10% of the lowest amount that the tenant has paid in the past 12 months, the landlord is required to provide a 90-day notice.

    Unless a clause in the lease agreement states that rent can be variable, the landlord cannot raise the rent until the end of the lease period.

    Security deposit

    All landlords will require a security deposit before a new tenant can move into the property.

    Maximum amount (CIV Code § 1950.5(c)(1))

    Maximum security deposit fees in California depend on the leased property. Landlords leasing furnished property can request a maximum security deposit that equals 3-month’s rent. However, if leasing unfurnished property, the maximum deposit cannot be greater than 2-month’s rent.

    Returning amount (CIV Code § 1950.5(g)(1))

    Suppose the property is left in the same condition at the end of the lease period as at the beginning. In that case, the landlord must return the total amount of the security deposit to the tenant within 21 days of the tenant moving out. If there are any deductions, they need to be explained in the itemized statement.

    Tenants can sue landlords in a small claims court if they believe the landlord unjustly withheld the security deposit.

    Essential Tips

    California lease agreements are complicated documents filled with technical jargon that is difficult to understand. The landlords and tenants should take a look at the following tips that will help eliminate misunderstandings:

    Stay clear and direct

    Both landlords and tenants need to understand their lease agreements in full. Steer clear of ambiguous language and complicated jargon.

    Keep everything in writing

    Although verbal agreements are legally binding in California, they are difficult to prove. So, it is in everyone’s best interest to include all the terms and conditions in writing.

    Consult a lawyer

    Lease agreements can contain a lot of fine print that’s easy to overlook. Consider hiring a lawyer who can explain all your rights and obligations. It’s critical to go through the entire lease agreement and read all the fine print before signing a contract. Otherwise, you could encounter severe consequences.

    Conclusion

    Lease agreements should always include all the minute details of the landlords’ and tenants’ rights and obligations. The terms and conditions should be clear, concise, and easy to understand, ensuring that all the involved parties know what’s expected of them – from the rent due to maintenance obligations, pest control expense coverage, etc.Download the free templates of the California lease agreement to ensure that your contract contains all the required stipulations and keeps you protected even in unexpected events.

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