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California Lease Agreement basics

If you are a property owner or manager of a rental unit in California, make a Lease Agreement to get the details of your arrangement with a tenant in writing.


How do I make a renter's lease?


You can use Rocket Lawyer's free California Rental Agreement if:

  • You're leasing residential property to a tenant in California.
  • You want to rent a room to a tenant.
  • You want to lease residential property from a landlord who doesn't have a lease form.

While there's no single standard lease template, there are some basic requirements that should be included in every rental contract. These include:

  • The names of the landlord and tenant(s)
  • The address of the property
  • The amount of rent
  • When the rent is due and how it should be paid
  • The amount of the security deposit
  • An explanation of grace periods or late fees
  • Whether pets are allowed
  • Who's responsible for which utilities
  • Information about lead based paint on the property

Is a verbal rental agreement legally binding in California?


While verbal agreements may be legally binding, the terms are very difficult to prove. With that in mind, it is in both parties' best interests to sign a written rental agreement.


How long can you lease in California?


California does not have a limitation in place for residential leases. Thus, you can lease for as long as the tenant and landlord agree. Additionally, in some cases landlords may be willing to negotiate a slightly lower monthly rent in exchange for a longer lease period.


Can you break a lease in California?


The terms under which you can break a lease in California without facing a penalty should be included in the terms of your lease agreement. Typically, there is a clause regarding an early termination fee. If your landlord is unable to find a replacement tenant, you may be legally obligated to pay the rent owed for the remainder of the lease.

There are additional circumstances under which you may legally break your lease, including:

  • If you are a victim of abuse (certain conditions)
  • The unit is somehow illegal
  • The unit is deemed unsafe
  • You start active military duty

There may be other circumstances that allow for you to legally break a lease, which can be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you need more explanation of your options, talk to a lawyer.


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Sample California Lease Agreement

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