Updated on August 10, 2023
A California rental lease agreement is a legally binding contract that outlines the terms and conditions between a landlord and tenant. This document, governed by the California Landlord and Tenant Act, ensures that both parties are protected, with clear stipulations on rent amount, security deposits, maintenance responsibilities, and more. Such agreements are essential in fostering a harmonious landlord-tenant relationship, as they set clear expectations and provide a reference point should disputes arise.
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Landlord and Tenant Act, Simplified
The California Landlord and Tenant Act serves as a comprehensive guide to the rights and responsibilities of both landlords and tenants in the state. Designed to ensure fairness, transparency, and protection for all parties involved, the Act covers various topics, from rent guidelines to required disclosures.
In the state of California, landlords are mandated to provide specific information to tenants, typically within the lease or rental agreement.
AB 1482 Just Cause and Rent Limit Addendum (Cal. Civ. Code § 1946.2 & § 1947.12):
Just Cause Eviction: Landlords can no longer terminate month-to-month tenancies without a specific reason after the tenant has lived in the property for over 12 months. The reasons can be “at-fault” (e.g., non-payment of rent, breach of lease terms) or “no-fault” (e.g., owner move-in, withdrawal of the property from the rental market). For “no-fault” evictions, landlords might be required to provide relocation assistance or a relocation fee to the tenant.
Rent Caps: The act also limits annual rent increases to 5% of the current rent plus the local rate of inflation or 10% of the current rent, whichever is lower. This rent cap does not apply to properties built within the last 15 years or single-family homes and condos (unless owned by a corporate entity).
Mandatory Disclosure: Landlords are required to provide a notice to tenants about their rights under AB 1482. For existing tenants as of January 1, 2020, landlords had until July 1, 2020, to provide this notice. This notice must be included in the agreement for any new lease or rental agreement after July 1, 2020.
Contact Information (Cal. Civ. Code § 1962): Landlords or property managers must disclose the names and addresses of the property owner, as well as any person authorized to manage the property or receive rent.
Megan’s Law (Cal. Civ. Code § 2079.10a): Landlords must include a notice in the lease about the online database that provides information about registered sex offenders.
Pest Control (Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 8538): If the property has undergone pest control treatments, landlords must provide a notice specifying the targeted pests, the pesticides used, and their active ingredients, as well as any associated warnings.
Lead-Based Paint Disclosure: For properties built before 1978, landlords must provide tenants with a lead-based paint disclosure, informing them about the potential presence of lead-based paint and offering a pamphlet about its hazards.
Asbestos (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 25915.2): If a property contains asbestos, landlords must disclose this to tenants, especially if there’s a potential for the asbestos to be disturbed.
Mold (Cal. Health & Safety Code § 26147): Landlords must provide written disclosure when mold exceeds permissible exposure limits or poses a health threat.
No Smoking Policy (Cal. Civ. Code § 1947.5): If a landlord has implemented a no-smoking policy on the property, it must be clearly stated in the lease agreement.
Flood Hazard (Cal. Gov. Code § 8589.45): If the property is located in a flood hazard area, landlords must disclose this to prospective tenants.
Demolition Permit (Cal. Civ. Code § 1940.6): If a landlord has applied for a demolition permit, this must be disclosed before the lease is signed.
Death in the Property (Cal. Civ. Code § 1710.2): Landlords must disclose if an occupant died on the property within the last three years. This disclosure is not limited to tenant deaths but includes any occupant. If directly asked about such an event, landlords cannot provide false information, but they are not obligated to disclose the manner of death.
Energy Use (Cal. Civ. Code § 1940.9): For properties with individual utility meters, landlords must disclose the unit’s energy use for the last 12 months, if available.
Bed Bug Disclosure (Cal. Civ. Code § 1954.603): Landlords must provide written information about bed bugs, including prevention and reporting.
Ordnance Locations (Cal. Civ. Code § 1940.7): Landlords of residential dwelling units who know any former federal or state ordnance locations in the neighborhood area must provide written notice to prospective tenants before the execution of a rental agreement. This pertains to areas of federal or state agencies identified as former military training grounds that might contain potentially explosive munitions. The “neighborhood area” is defined as within one mile of the residential dwelling.
Shared Utilities (Cal. Civ. Code § 1940.9): If the utility meter is shared between units or with common areas, landlords must disclose this to tenants and provide an explanation of how they will fairly divide and bill the utility costs.
Methamphetamine or Fentanyl Contamination (Health & Safety Code § 25400.28): Landlords are required to disclose to prospective tenants if a property has been contaminated by methamphetamine or fentanyl production and has not yet been fully remediated in accordance with health regulations.
In the state of California, there are specific guidelines and regulations surrounding rent.
Rent Control (Cal. Civ. Code § 1947.12): Some cities in California have rent control ordinances that limit how much a landlord can increase rent for existing tenants.
Late Fees (Cal. Civ. Code § 1947): Late fees must be reasonable and reflect the actual costs incurred by the landlord.
Returned Check Fees (Cal. Civ. Code § 1719): Landlords can charge a fee for returned checks, which must be outlined in the lease agreement.
In California, landlords and tenants have specific obligations and rights concerning security deposits.
Maximum Security Deposit (Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.5): Landlords can charge up to two months’ rent for unfurnished units. For furnished units, it’s three months’ rent.
Return of Security Deposit (Cal. Civ. Code § 1950.5): Landlords must return the deposit within 21 days after the tenant moves out, with an itemized statement of deductions.
Terms and Conditions in a Rental Agreement
In California, rental agreements outline landlords’ and tenants’ rights and responsibilities.
Duration of Tenancy (Cal. Civ. Code § 1945): Unless the rental agreement specifies a definite term, the tenancy is considered month-to-month.
Landlord’s Right of Entry (Cal. Civ. Code § 1954): Landlords can enter the property for specific reasons, such as emergencies, repairs, or to show the property, but they must provide reasonable notice.
Maintenance Responsibilities (Cal. Civ. Code § 1941): Landlords must ensure the rental unit is habitable, including providing heat, plumbing, and clean conditions.