When you’re preparing to rent your property out to tenants, you need a strong lease that’s legally compliant in California. It’s nearly impossible to be too detailed; you want to include as much information as possible so there can be no confusion about the tenant’s responsibilities and your expectations.
While the information included in your lease agreement will largely depend on your property and everything that comes with it, there are a few specific things that every lease must include.
Tenant and Occupant Names
It may seem obvious, but your lease needs to list the names of all tenants 18 years of age or older, as well as any occupants who are younger than that. Make sure you include each adult tenant so that everyone living at the property is accountable to following the lease terms and paying rent. Make sure your lease agreement states that only the tenants and occupants named on the lease are permitted to reside in the home. This will protect you from any liability for unauthorized persons and their actions.
Specify the Lease Terms
A lease agreement is a fixed term lease in California, while a rental agreement is typically month to month. Assuming you have a lease in place, make sure the agreement indicates the start date and the end date as well as what will happen at the end of the lease. Stipulate whether it will automatically renew, and provide an amount of time that either the tenants or the landlord must provide notice for the lease to end.
Amount of Rent and Security Deposit
Another important part of your lease agreement should be a rent collection policy. Your lease must indicate how much rent is due every month, how it should be paid, and when it is considered late. If you have a grace period, state it in the lease, and list any consequences to late rent payment, such as late fees or the immediate service of a Pay or Quit Notice. You must also state the amount of the security deposit and how and when it will be returned to the tenant.
Tenant Restrictions and Rights
The lease should explain what the tenant’s rights and responsibilities are. It should also list the responsibilities of the landlord. For example, landlords have the right to enter the property with reasonable written notice (24-48 hours in most cases). The lease should also address who is responsible for maintenance, utilities, HOA fees, and landscaping. A good lease will explicitly forbid any illegal activity. When you put these restrictions in writing, you can protect yourself from any liability if the tenant is found to have drugs on the property or act disruptively. It also gives you the right to evict any tenant who is misusing your rental home.
Make sure the lease states whether pets are allowed. If you do allow pets, include any restrictions on size, age, breed, and number. Include information on any pet deposits, fees, or rents that are collected. Indicate that the tenant is responsible for the pet’s behavior and must clean up any pet waste.
There are also a number of legal disclosures that a Long Beach lease agreement must include, such as lead-based paint disclosures and whether mold is present in a building.
Talk to a professional property manager or a legal expert who can help you draft a compliant and strong California lease agreement. We’d be happy to advise you on this matter, so please contact us at CMC Realty.