A California lease agreement is a legally binding contract between a landlord wanting to rent all (or a portion of) their property and a tenant. In a lease agreement, written according to the state’s landlord-tenant law, the tenant agrees to the terms and conditions, including payment of the monthly rent and when to pay, along with other rental rules and requirements.
Rent Control: Yes.
Limit on Late Fees: Late fees must be reasonable.
Late Fees in Rental Agreement: Yes.
Grace Period: No.
License Required for Landlord: No.
Required Lease Disclosures
California imposes specific requirements for landlords and tenants when executing a lease agreement. For example, the California Civil Code outlines the following disclosures:
- Disclosure of Lead-Based Hazards. All California landlords of any building constructed before 1978 must notify all tenants of the potential existence of lead-based hazards (Title 42 U.S. Code § 4852(d)).
- Bed Bug Addendum. Landlords need to provide specific information about bed bugs (§ 1942.5).
- Disclosure of Mold. A written disclosure of all mold a landlord knows of or should reasonably know of, along with a handbook provided by the State Department of Health Services, must be presented to all tenants. (Cal. Civ. Code § 26147-26148, § 1941.7).
- Disclosure of Flood Hazard Area. Needed if the property is in a flood zone (Cal. Gov. Code § 8589.45).
- Pool and Hot Tub Notice (for the use of a jacuzzi or pool on the property).
- Carbon Monoxide Detector Addendum. The landlord must maintain carbon monoxide devices, and a tenant must be made aware that they have a responsibility to notify the landlord of any defects with those devices immediately. (Cal. HSC § 17926.1)
- Disclosure of Asbestos. For buildings built before 1979, the owner must notify all tenants of any asbestos-containing materials on the premises. (Cal. HSC § 25915)
- Notice of Illegal Substance Contamination. It contains a notification of any prior contamination caused by the production of methamphetamine on the property, and all prospective tenants must sign and acknowledge that. (Cal. HSC § 25400.28)
- Disclosure of Shared Utilities. The landlord must notify tenants whether the electric or gas utility company services other areas of the house and ensure a fair allocation of the costs amongst all tenants. (§ 1940.9) In San Franciso, landlords are legally required to provide a heating system that can sustain a temperature of at least 68 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 13 hours, between 5–11 AM and 3–10 PM (Section 701 of the San Francisco Housing Code).
- Notice of Death in Rental Unit. Tenants must be notified of any unnatural death in a unit within the last three years. (§ 1710.2).
- Disclosure of Ordnance Location. A written notice of the prior existence of a military training facility in the neighborhood that may still contain explosive munitions. (§ 1940.7(b))
- Notice of Intent to Demolish. Before applying for a permit to demolish a residential property, a landlord must notify current and prospective tenants of the earliest possible date that the building is scheduled to be demolished. (§ 1940.6)
- Notice of Foreclosure. A landlord must disclose whenever their residential property has entered the foreclosure process. (§ 2924.8)
- Notice of Pest Control / Periodic Pest Control Service. Must describe any known or reasonably identifiable pests, past and current pest control contracts, and the contact information of a pest control company. (§ 1940.8, § 1099).
- AB 1482 Just Cause and Rent Limit Addendum. Limits the yearly rent increase and requires landlords to have a just cause when terminating a tenancy.
- Megan’s Law Notice. Refers to the rights of the tenants to access the sex offender registry. Landlords must specifically include a provision in the lease directing the tenant to the website maintained by the Department of Justice, www.meganslaw.ca.gov. (§ 2079.10(a)).
- Move-In/Move-Out Inspection Checklist. Ensures that both the landlord and tenant acknowledge and agree on the condition of each aspect of a rental unit before moving in and moving out.
- Pet Addendum. The landlord grants the tenant permission to have a pet in the rental unit.
- Satellite Dish & Antenna Addendum. Allows tenants to install a satellite dish on the property (FCC Order 98-273).
- Smoking Policy Disclosure. Landlords must provide a clause describing prohibited and limited smoking areas for rental agreements signed after January 1, 2012. (§ 1947.5)
Landlords must return security deposits to the tenant within 21 days of termination of the lease agreement.
Rent Collection and Payment
Rent is expected on the date mentioned in the lease agreement.
If the tenant falls behind on rent, the landlord can serve a 3-day notice to quit, demanding payment of the total amount due, including any penalties. Failure to comply may lead to eviction proceedings initiated by the landlord.
Landlord Right of Entry
Here are the landlord’s entry rights and notification requirements for various scenarios as per the California Civil Code (Civ. Code § 1954(a)):
- Emergency Entry: Without delay and requires no notice
- Showing the Property: With a 24-hour notice
- Maintenance: With a 24-hour notice
- Move-Out Inspection: With a 48-hour notice
You can download a California lease agreement template below in PDF or Word format.