California Rental Agreement

Last Updated: July 21, 2022

The California rental agreements are contracts between a landlord overseeing a real property and the tenant who wishes to use it. These documents describe the rules associated with using the property, as well as the amount of rent. Rental agreements must comply with California’s landlord-tenant laws.

California Rental Agreement Types

22 pages
Residential Lease Agreement

The California residential lease agreement (“rental agreement”) is a binding agreement between a landlord (“property owner“) and tenant (“occupant“) to rent residential property in exchange for rent payment.

19 pages
Month-to-Month Rental Agreement

A California month-to-month lease agreement is a contract (written or oral) that allows a tenant to rent property from a landlord, in exchange for a fee (“rent”), for a period of thirty days at a time.

3 pages
Rental Application Form

The California rental application form is a document used to screen potential tenants by collecting information about their rental history, income, and other information that would help the landlord decide whether they would be an acceptable tenant.

8 pages
Residential Sublease Agreement

The California sublease agreement is a contract between the tenant of rental property (“sublessor”) and a new tenant (“sublessee”) that allows the sublessee to take over all (or part) of the rental.

3 pages
Roommate Agreement

The California roommate agreement (“room rental agreement”) is a binding contract that co-tenants in a shared residential situation must sign.

12 pages
Commercial Lease Agreement

The California commercial lease agreement is a contract used specifically to rent commercial spaces to businesses.

Common Rental Agreements in California

California Required Lease Disclosures

  • Methamphetamine Contamination Disclosure (required for some) – If the landlord has knowledge of potential methamphetamine contamination in the rental unit, they must disclose this in their California lease agreement unless it reaches safe levels of 1.5 μg/100 cm2 after remediation to avoid exposure.
  • Mold Disclosure (required for some) – California leases must provide a mold disclosure when there is knowledge of potential toxic mold in the rental unit to avoid health hazards forming.
  • Sex Offender Registry Notice (required for all) – For the safety of incoming tenants, California law requires every lease to include a notice that states that the sex offender registry is available for access on the Department of Justice’s website.
  • Demolition Permit Disclosure (required for some) – If there is a planned demolition in a rental unit or building involved in a California lease, landlords must provide notice about the date of demolition in the lease so tenants can be informed about when their lease will end.
  • Military Ordnance Disclosure (required for some) – California rental properties that fall within 1 mile of retired ordnance storage or military training grounds must have a notice in the lease alerting potential renters to this fact for safety reasons.
  • Death in a Rental Unit Disclosure (required for some) – Unless occurring due to HIV or AIDS, death that occurs in a rental unit in California is to be disclosed if it occurred within 3 years of the beginning of the lease agreement due to statues on emotional defects in a property.
  • Pest Control Disclosure (required for some) – Regular pest control treatments must be disclosed in the lease agreement, and a notice of the right to displace a tenant for 24 hours to perform pest control must be provided for California rental properties so tenants can plan to vacate the premises during scheduled treatments.
  • Shared Utility Arrangement Disclosure (required for some) – For California buildings that share a master meter between common areas or multiple tenants, the landlord is required to provide disclosure on how utility charges are allocated between each party to help avoid disputes over billing.
  • Bed Bug Disclosure (required for all) – California landlords must include a bed bug addendum and/or disclosure in every lease agreement that informs the prospective tenant about the procedure for handling a bed bug infestation to avoid it spreading.
  • Flood Zone Disclosure (required for some) – When a property falls within a California flood zone, there must be a disclosure of the hazard in the form of a notice with a minimum of 8-point font that provides notice of the flood zone, resources for learning more, and a recommendation for renter’s and flood insurance.
  • Lead-Based Paint Disclosure (required for some) – Federal law requires California landlords to disclose the dangers of lead-based paint in every lease agreement for a property built before 1978, alongside a lead paint disclosure form and records of any known hazards in the rental unit.

To learn more about required disclosures in California, click here.

California Landlord Tenant Laws

  • Warranty of Habitability – California landlords are required to provide hot and cold running water, HVAC equipment, sanitation facilities and more. Also, California landlords must provide a structurally sound dwelling to all tenants and make requested repairs in a “reasonable” amount of time (often interpreted as 30 days). If these duties are not properly fulfilled, a California tenant may choose to withhold rent entirely or perform a “repair and deduct” action.
  • Evictions – A California tenant may be evicted by their landlord for failure to pay rent, violating the terms of their lease not upholding their responsibilities under California Civil Code, staying after their lease ends (after proper notice was given), or illegal activity.  Typically, the eviction process can be completed in a week to a few months.
  • Security Deposits – California landlords are legally allowed to charge up to 2 months’ rent (unfurnished) or 3 months’ rent (furnished) as a security deposit. Upon the completion of a lease, a California landlord must return any remaining security deposit funds within 21 days after the tenant moves out.
  • Lease Termination – In California, month-to-month leases can be terminated legally with 30 days with prior notice or 7 days for week-to-week tenants. A fixed term lease in California can be broken early without penalty via an early termination clause, active military duty relocation, habitability violation, domestic violence, landlord harassment, etc.
  • Rent Increases & Fees – California maintains a statewide rent control system via legislation known as the Tenant Protection Act (AB 1482). Also, many local jurisdictions maintain their own rent control and stabilization system. As such, California landlords cannot charge as much as they want for rent. Unless required by local statute, California landlords do not need to provide justification for a rent increase. These landlords are required to provide differing amounts of notice based upon the value of the rent increase, though. As for fees, California landlords may charge any type or amount they desire, so long as it is “reasonable” (except for bounced check fees, which are capped at $25 for a first occurrence).
  • Landlord Entry – California landlords may enter a rented unit (between the hours of 8am and 5pm on weekdays) after providing 24 hours of advance notice (there are some exceptions to this rule) or they may enter immediately in the case of emergency.
  • Settling Legal Disputes – California landlords and tenants may settle their disputes (excepting evictions) valued at up to $10,000 in the state’s small claims courts. California does limit landlords to filing only 2 cases valued at $2,500 or more per year.

To learn more about landlord tenant laws in California, click here.