San Diego Residential Lease Agreement

Last Updated: September 22, 2023 by Cameron Smith

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A residential lease agreement in San Diego is a binding agreement between a landlord and a tenant. This agreement outlines the terms and conditions regarding the use of a rental property in exchange for periodic payments.

Residential Lease Agreement Requirements in San Diego

San Diego has one mandatory lease disclosure that, in certain scenarios, landlords must add to their residential lease agreement.

Crime-Free Addendum

Certain buildings in San Diego may require a Crime-Free Multi-Housing Certification. For buildings that require this certification, landlords must also include a crime-free addendum in the lease agreement.

Landlord-Tenant Rights and Regulations in San Diego

When it comes to landlord-tenant rights, landlords should be aware of the following:

Just Cause Evictions

In San Diego, it is illegal for a landlord to evict a tenant without a just cause. This includes both at-fault and no-fault just cause evictions.

No-Fault Evictions

A no-fault eviction is a term used when the notice to end the tenancy is not based on any fault of the tenant. This type of eviction is typically used in scenarios such as month-to-month tenancies.

Some examples of no-fault evictions include (but are not limited to):

  • The landlord, their spouse, or family member decides to occupy the unit (this must be included in the lease agreement)
  • The landlord decides to withdraw the unit from the market
  • A federal order or local ordinance requires the tenant to vacate the property

For no-fault evictions, landlords must provide relocation assistance for the tenant. Additionally, if the property is available to rent or lease within 5 years of the eviction, the landlord must first offer the unit to the displaced tenant. This is only if the tenant requested an offer to renew within 30 days of the eviction notice.

At-Fault Evictions

An at-fault eviction is a term used when the notice to end the tenancy is based on the fault of the tenant. For at-fault evictions, landlords must provide written notice of the eviction, as well as an opportunity to cure the violation (if it is curable).

Some examples of at-fault evictions include (but are not limited to):

  • Refusing to pay rent
  • Violating the lease agreement
  • Engaging in criminal activity
  • Refusing to allow the landlord to enter the property

Eviction Notice Requirements

If a San Diego landlord delivers an eviction notice, they must also include a copy of the Tenant Protection Guide. This guide provides resources and protection for tenants facing evictions (such as relocation assistance).

Tenant Buyout Agreements

A buyout agreement is when a landlord offers a tenant money to vacate their unit. Unlike just-cause evictions, buyout agreements are less regulated. This can often lead to landlords pressuring or even threatening tenants to move out of their property.

San Diego landlords must provide a written disclosure of the tenant’s rights before discussing a buyout agreement. These rights include (but are not limited to) the right to decline the agreement or consult an attorney before making a decision.

Optional Lease Agreement Disclosures and Addendums in San Diego

While not mandatory, landlords can add specific disclosures and addendums to their leases. This helps outline the responsibilities of the tenant and prevent future liability issues.

Asbestos Disclosure

Since California is listed as the #1 state for asbestos-related deaths, landlords should include a disclosure stating if asbestos is present on the property. If asbestos is present, tenants should take precautions to minimize the chance of disturbing the asbestos fibers.

Pet Disclosure

With San Diego being one of the most dog-friendly cities in the U.S., landlords may want to address the building’s pet policies. This disclosure should include whether or not pets are allowed on the property, the tenant’s responsibility to cover any pet-related damages, and any additional fees or restrictions surrounding pets.

Medical Marijuana Use Disclosure

Medical marijuana use is legal in San Diego—which is why it’s important to disclose if it will be permitted on the property. Landlords in California are allowed to restrict marijuana usage to non-smoking methods only. They should also clarify if there are designated smoking areas on the premises.

Summary of Required Lease Disclosures for the State of California

  • Methamphetamine and Fentanyl Contamination – Landlords must disclose any known presence of methamphetamine and fentanyl in the rental agreement. For contaminated properties, landlords must include a copy of any contamination-related notices. They must also inform prospective tenants in the rental agreement about ongoing remediation efforts before they sign the lease.
  • Mold – Landlords must disclose any knowledge of mold on the property. This includes 1) any reason to believe there is toxic mold or 2) a high chance of mold forming. This disclosure is mandatory unless the mold was remediated to California safety guidelines.
  • Sex Offender Registry Notice – Prospective tenants and citizens alike have access to information relating to the sex offender registry. This is known as Megan’s Law Disclosure and must be disclosed in every rental agreement.
  • Demolition Permit – If a landlord has intentions to demolish a rental unit or building, or has applied for a demolition permit, they must disclose this in the rental agreement. The disclosure should state the approximate date on which demolition will occur.
  • Military Ordnance – Landlords must provide a military ordnance disclosure for any property that falls within one mile of military training grounds or ordnance storage. This disclosure notifies the tenant that there is a possibility of live munitions near the rental unit.
  • Death in a Rental Unit – Due to statutes on emotional defects in a property, any death that occurred within 3 years of the beginning of the rental agreement must be disclosed in the lease (unless the death was due to HIV or AIDS).
  • Pest Control – 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 the pesticide application is allowed.
  • Shared Utilities Arrangement – When each unit does not have its own utility meter, landlords must disclose this information in the rental agreement. They must also provide a mutual written agreement with the tenant for payment of services.
  • Bed Bugs – Landlords must include a bed bug addendum in their rental agreements. This addendum provides information about preventing infestations and the proper protocol if one arises.
  • Flood Zone – If the landlord has knowledge of the rental property residing in a flood zone, they must disclose this information to the tenant in the rental agreement.
  • Smoking Policy – If a landlord wishes to prohibit smoking tobacco in any part of the rental property, they must disclose specifically where smoking is prohibited.
  • Lead-Based Paint – 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.