California Residential Lease Agreement

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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. Governed by California landlord-tenant law, the contract has terms and conditions describing the duties of each party.


Create an official California standard residential lease agreement (see above), download a free and fillable template form (see Word and PDF buttons) or read further to learn about California state laws regarding rental leases.

California Lease Disclosures & Addendums

The following disclosures or addendums are either required for some or all residential lease agreements in California.

There are also a number of optional disclosures and addendums that help reduce future conflicts and/or legal liability in California.

Asbestos Disclosure

Applicable to any building built before 1979 where the owner has knowledge of asbestos

Any property built before 1979 is at a risk for asbestos, a harmful substance that was used in ceilings, walls, and other at-risk locations near tenants.

California requires landlords to disclose the specifics of any existing asbestos that is known in the building. They must also provide notice of the dangers it presents, general procedure for what to do if it is encountered, and any information about testing results that have been acquired .

If there is no known asbestos in the building but the building was built before 1979, it is recommended that landlords still provide the disclosure because it helps protect landlord liability and tenant safety.

Methamphetamine Contamination Disclosure

Applicable to any property where the landlord has knowledge of possible contamination AND remediation has not completed.

In California, disclosure of any knowledge relating to methamphetamine manufacturing, use, or storage is legally required in a lease agreement. The landlord must also include a copy of any notices received relating to methamphetamine contamination (unless the property has been decontaminated) . They must also inform prospective tenants in the lease agreement about ongoing remediation efforts before the lease is signed, and the tenant must agree to the notice before moving in.

If contamination does occur, the landlord is required to pursue decontamination prior to the commencement of the lease term to ensure the safety of the tenant. Concentration levels of less than 1.5 μg/100 cm2 must be reached before the property is considered safe to live .

Methamphetamine contamination can be dangerous to Tenant(s) in high concentrations, presenting health concerns through absorption of the materials in the air.

This property:
[ ] Has been found to be contaminated above safe levels and is in the process of decontamination.
[ ] Has been found to be contaminated, but falls within safe levels after tests were conducted.
[ ] Has no suspicion of contamination.

Mold Disclosure

Applicable to any units with known mold that may pose a health threat

In California, landlords must provide a mold disclosure as part of the lease when there is a known presence of toxic mold or high chance of it forming. This disclosure must be provided alongside or on the lease agreement itself unless the mold was remediated to safety guidelines implemented by California . It may also be included in the absence of known mold as a safety precaution for tenants and to minimize landlord liability.

This mold addendum will satisfy California statues.

Sex Offender Registry Notice

Applicable to all rental units in California

In the state of California, prospective tenants and citizens alike have access to information relating to the sex offender registry. In an effort to protect tenants, this right must be disclosed in every lease for California rental agreements in the form of the following specific statue .

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 the offender resides.

Demolition Permit Disclosure

Applicable to any property with plans for demolition that will affect tenancy

If a landlord has intentions to demolish a rental unit or building, California law requires this intention to be disclosed in the lease agreement. They must supply the approximate date in which demolition will occur, and may not complete demolition before that day or they will be fined $2500 plus damages .

An example of a section to be included in the lease agreement would be:

DISCLOSURE OF DEMOLITION. On __/__/__, the following unit(s) are scheduled for demolition. On or after this date, active lease agreements will terminate for the affected unit(s).

Military Ordnance Disclosure

Applicable to any property within 1 mile of known ordnance location with explosive risk.

California requires landlords to provide a military ordnance disclosure as part of a lease agreement for any property that falls within 1 mile of military training grounds or ordnance storage . These ordinances pose a risk to nearby residents, who need to be informed of the risks before signing the lease agreement. This disclosure is often included as a section within the lease itself.

An example of a section to be included in the lease agreement would be:

ORDNANCE DISCLOSURE. This property is located within 1 mile of a former federal or military facility which may contain explosive munitions.

Death in a Rental Unit Disclosure

Applicable to properties with a non-HIV or AIDS-related death in the past 3 years.

While not a tangible defect, psychological defects such as a death in a rental unit must be disclosed in California leases. This includes all forms of death with the exception of deaths related to HIV or AIDS, which are protected under the state statue . Death in a rental unit disclosures are often included as a section within the lease, and even if there has been no death in the timeframe, some landlords may elect to provide this information regardless.

The following section may be included in your California lease agreement

At the time of this lease agreement, Landlord certifies the following information pertaining to the history of death in the rental property:

[ ] No death reported
[ ] Death by natural causes
[ ] Death by violent crime: ________
[ ] Death by communicable disease:_______

Tenant has a right to have questions answered pertaining to death in the rental unit to the best of the Landlord’s knowledge upon request.

Pest Control Disclosure

Applicable to units where pesticides are applied.

If pesticides are administered to a unit in a rental building, all adjacent tenants and anyone who is at risk of secondhand exposure must be given at least 24 hours of notice before application is allowed. The application may require temporary displacement of other tenants, which must be disclosed in the lease to be enforceable and avoid potential damages charged to the landlord .

Additionally, if pesticide treatments are administered regularly there must be notice given to all new and existing tenants on the expected terms of the contract .

Pest control schedules or notices should be attached to lease agreements, and/or provided to tenants with greater than 24 hours of notice for individual cases.

Shared Utilities Arrangements

Applicable to any units without individual meters

In California, when each unit does not have its own utility meter, the landlord must disclose this information in the lease agreement. They must also provide and execute a mutual written agreement with the tenant for payment of services. This agreement can include the landlord assuming the shared utility, installing a submetering system, allocating charges between multiple parties (when shared between units), or other methods of establishing a breakdown of utility payments .

The following is an example of a shared utility agreement section

UTILITIES: This rental unit shares the following utilities with another unit or common area:
[ ] Electricity
[ ] Water
[ ] Gas
[ ] Sewage
[ ] Other: _________________________________________

This lease uses the following method for calculating utility charges between Tenant(s):
[ ] Home Square Footage
[ ] Number of Tenants
[ ] Even Split Between Tenants
[ ] Other:___________________________________________________________

Tenant agrees to pay the monthly utility charge to Landlord, plus a $__ service charge as part of each month’s rental payment.

Bed Bug Disclosure

Applicable to all units.

To protect against the contraction and spread of an infestation, it is required that landlords in California include a bed bug section and addendum in their lease agreements. This addendum provides information about preventing infestations and the proper protocol if one arises so that you can minimize the potential damage. It also helps to limit liability for the landlord by establishing an understanding of the current status of the property, and protects in the case of an infestation occurring later in the lease term.

The following excerpt is the recommended notice to include in no less than 10-point font.

Information about Bed Bugs

Bed bug Appearance: Bed bugs have six legs. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies about 1/4 of an inch in length. Their color can vary from red and brown to copper colored. Young bed bugs are very small. Their bodies are about 1/16 of an inch in length. They have almost no color. When a bed bug feeds, its body swells, may lengthen, and becomes bright red, sometimes making it appear to be a different insect. Bed bugs do not fly. They can either crawl or be carried from place to place on objects, people, or animals. Bed bugs can be hard to find and identify because they are tiny and try to stay hidden.

Life Cycle and Reproduction: An average bed bug lives for about 10 months. Female bed bugs lay one to five eggs per day. Bed bugs grow to full adulthood in about 21 days.

Bed bugs can survive for months without feeding.

Bed bug Bites: Because bed bugs usually feed at night, most people are bitten in their sleep and do not realize they were bitten. A person’s reaction to insect bites is an immune response and so varies from person to person. Sometimes the red welts caused by the bites will not be noticed until many days after a person was bitten, if at all.

Common signs and symptoms of a possible bed bug infestation:
-Small red to reddish brown fecal spots on mattresses, box springs, bed frames, mattresses, linens, upholstery, or walls.
-Molted bed bug skins, white, sticky eggs, or empty eggshells.
-Very heavily infested areas may have a characteristically sweet odor.
-Red, itchy bite marks, especially on the legs, arms, and other body parts exposed while sleeping. However, some people do not show bed bug lesions on their bodies even though bed bugs may have fed on them.

For more information, see the Internet Web sites of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the National Pest Management Association.

This bed bug addendum may also be included as part of the lease to ensure the tenant agrees.

Flood Zone Disclosure

Applicable to any property in a known flood zone.

If the landlord has actual knowledge of the rental property residing in a flood zone, they must disclose this fact to the tenant in the lease agreement with a minimum 8-point font. The disclosure must include:

  • Notice that the property is in a flood zone
  • Notice that information about hazards can be found at the Office of Emergency Services website (and a link provided),
  • Notice that the landlord’s insurance does not cover personal loss and a recommendation to pursue renter’s and flood insurance.
  • Acknowledgement that the landlord is not required to provide further information than the above.

An example of a flood zone disclosure would be the following section:

FLOOD ZONE DISCLOSURE. This property is located in a known flood zone, putting it at a higher risk of flooding. Landlord and Landlord’s insurer are NOT responsible for personal loss occurring at this rental unit due to flooding or other hazards. It is recommended that Tenant pursues renter’s insurance and flood insurance. Information about hazards can be found on the California Office of Emergency Services’ website at https://myhazards.caloes.ca.gov

The above notice is pursuant to section 1632 of the Civil Code and absolves Landlord of liability to flood-related damages.

Lead Based Paint Disclosure

Applicable to any rental units built prior to 1978.

It is a federal law in the United States that any home built prior to 1978 must disclose the risks posed by lead-based paints. This law requires landlords in California to:

  • Fill out and attach this lead based paint disclosure form to the lease agreement.
  • Provide the tenant with an EPA-approved pamphlet about the dangers of lead-based paint.
  • Provide additional records or reports about the presence or hazards of any known lead based paint in the unit. For multi-unit buildings with common areas, this includes information from building-wide evaluations.

Optional Disclosures & Addendums (Recommended)

The following lease agreement disclosures and addendums are not required by California law in residential lease agreements, but either help reduce future conflicts with tenants or reduce legal liability for landlords.

  • Landlord Name & Address – to create a line of communication for important notices & demands between tenant and landlord, it is recommended that California landlords provide contact information within or alongside the lease for themselves or anyone authorized to act on behalf of the property.
  • Medical Marijuana Use – it is recommended to state where marijuana use is and isn’t allowed on the property so that expectations are clear. California law allows landlords to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only or control where users can smoke so as to not interfere with other tenants.
  • Late and Returned Check Fees – it is recommended that landlords disclose in the lease any late fees or returned (bounced) check fees that they intend to charge. California does not limit how high late fees can be, but they should be considered reasonable (often no more than 10% of rent) and reflect the actual expenses incurred by the landlord as a result of a late payment. They must also be charged only after the agreed upon due date for rent, dictated in the lease. Returned checks are subject to a $25 first-time fee, then $35 for each subsequent bounced check.