One of the most important things a landlord can do when renting to a tenant is to have a good written California rental agreement. Should eviction proceedings be filed, the court will want to review the signed agreement. Below is a checklist for a top notch rental agreement. Read on to learn more about what you should include in your California rental agreement.

Create a Written California Rental Agreement

Prior to entering into a lease or rental, every landlord should draft a written rental agreement that meets California state laws. Though this may seem rather routine, landlords have been known to lease out rental units without detailing the rental terms in writing. Landlords without a written rental agreement typically have more difficult terminating a tenant’s right should a problem arise later. Obviously, a well drafted California rental agreement will let both the landlord and tenant know each party’s responsibilities in regards to the terms of tenancy. At minimum, the written rental agreement should identify the rental duration, security deposit and rent amount. Contact us for more information on how to create a written California rental agreement.

“When I had to evict a tenant, I discovered that my rental agreement was missing many important things. It did not even allow me to recover attorney fees if I had to hire one to help me with the eviction process! ” T. Willard
“Fortunately, A People’s Choice was able to help me create a new rental agreement that covers all the required notices and gives me more protection as a landlord. I won’t be caught short next time.” T. Willard

Get help with your California Rental Agreement!


or call 1-800-747-2780

Important Clauses in California Rental Agreements

California Rental Agreement Should Identify all Tenants

Every California rental agreement should indicate the name of all tenants to the rental agreement. All adult tenants should be required to sign the rental agreement. Every adult that lives in the unit should also be required to provide their personal information including date of birth and Social Security number. This makes each tenant legally responsible in fulfilling all terms of the rental agreement. As the landlord, you will have a right to file a lawsuit against all of the tenants in the event rent is not paid or property damage occurs. This personal information will be helpful should a landlord be required to file a lawsuit and collection a judgment.

Rental Agreement Should Identify Rental Duration, Security Deposit & Rent Amount

A California rental agreement should clearly state the duration, security deposit and monthly rent amount. The rental duration will depend on whether you seek to enter into a month-by-month, semi-annual, or one-year rental agreement. The amount of rent collected per month should be stated as well as the date in which it is due. If payment is not timely made, the rental agreement should state whether or not there will be a late payment assessed and on what date it will be added. In addition, the rental agreement should include acceptable payment methods, including where payment is to be sent or delivered.

Most landlords require the new tenant to pay a security deposit. The rental agreement should include the dollar amount of the security deposit and how it is to be used. This may include covering unpaid rent or damage to the property.

Identify Responsibility for Repairs & Maintenance

The rental agreement should identify who is responsible for property repairs and maintenance. In addition,the agreement should state the period of time the tenant must notify the landlord of any repairs to be made to the unit in the event of property damage in which the tenant is not responsible for. Lastly, the rental agreement should identify any restrictions to the different types of repairs or alternations the tenant can make to the property. For example, can the tenant paint a bedroom pink or make permanent modifications to the interior of the premises.

Identify Dwelling Entry Notice

California law requires landlords to provide tenants with 24-hour notice prior to entering a rental unit. This should should be stated in the rental agreement. If a landlord intends to enter the premises, legal notice must be provided to the tenant in writing.

Describe Illegal or Unacceptable Activities

It is important to include a clause in the rental agreement that prohibits illegal or unacceptable activities. This could potentially limit any liability that may arise in the event the landlord or tenant are sued for the tenant’s activities on the premises. Condominiums typically have CC&R’s (covenants, conditions and restrictions) that restrict certain actions of people that live in the condominium. The tenant should be provided with a copy of these CC&R’s so that they cannot use “they did not know” as a defense should they later violate these rules, and restrictions during their tenancy.

Identify Allowed Pets

California residents love their pets. If a landlord does not allow pets in the rental unit, make sure a clause is inserted into the rental agreement prohibiting animals. If a landlord is willing to allow pets, the rental agreement should identify any special restrictions (example – weight or breed type or number of pets) that will be allowed to be in the rental, unit. Furthermore, a landlord may want to add an additional “pet deposit” to cover any potential damage caused as a result of the tenant having a pet.

California Rental Agreement Should Include State Disclosures

There are several federal and state disclosures that must be made to a tenant prior to renting a dwelling. For example, a landlord may need to disclose that the property contains lead paint or other harmful chemicals known to cause cancer or notice of Megan’s law. Refer to the California Department of Consumer Affair’s website for further information regarding mandated notices in California rental agreements. The California Association of Realtors also has a great rental disclosure reference chart.

Every California Rental Agreement Needs an Attorney’s Fees Clause

If a landlord has to hire an attorney to formally file an unlawful detainer or eviction proceeding, the last thing they want is being unable to recover their legal fees. It should be noted, however, that a landlord can file eviction against a tenant without hiring attorney. However, if a landlord does have to hire an attorney and the rental agreement does not have an attorney’s fees clause, the landlord may not be able to recover these legal costs.

Don’t be caught short. Unwanted tenants will use every legal loophole available to say in rental property for as long as possible. Landlords need to take every means possible to protect their interest, their property and their pocketbook by making sure they have a sold, well-written California rental agreement.

Contact A People’s Choice for more information on how to obtain a checklist for a top notch California rental agreement.

Get help with your Legal documents today!

A People’s Choice can save you hundreds of dollars by preparing your legal documents instead of an expensive attorney!


Was this article helpful? We would love to know your thoughts! If you found this article helpful, please check the LIKE button below. Your feedback helps us plan topics for future articles.