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Lease Agreements in California

Get an overview of what's included in our California Lease Agreement

Melissa avatar
Written by Melissa
Updated over a week ago

TurboTenant’s California lease agreement has been written and reviewed by California lawyers and landlords. It’s been drafted to keep you compliant and covered as you rent out your property.


The California lease agreement is split up into three sections.

  • Section 1 contains information specific to you, your tenants, your rental property, and the details of your lease. This is all information that you add during the lease creation process in TurboTenant.

  • Section 2 contains clauses in accordance with California law. In order to stay compliant with the law, you will not be able to edit any details in Section 2, with the exception of the disclosures as noted below.

  • Section 3 contains general clauses for landlords in the United States. It was drafted with best practices in mind for the landlord, tenant relationship. Like Section 2, you will not be able to edit these details.

While you may not edit all of the specifics directly, remember you can add additional provisions that supersede any existing language in the lease by using the Additional Provisions section. This gives you customization and flexibility should you have unique things you want to ensure are covered in your lease.

Section 1 - Custom to You

Section 1 contains the custom details relevant to you, your tenants, and your rental property— who is on the lease, rent amount, utilities, etc. You’ll add these details during the lease creation process.

We’ve set up the lease agreement in a way that is easy for you and your tenants to understand. You’ll see the main details you’ve added to the summary table at the front of the lease agreement. The remaining items—like smoking, utilities, keys, etc.—are outlined in the rest of Section 1 as you can see in this example California Lease Agreement.

Here are a couple of other items in Section 1 worth mentioning:

Additional Provisions: this is where you can add any property specific rules, necessary local clauses, or other specifics you want to include. We recommend that you review any additional provisions with a lawyer.

Lost Key: if your tenants do not return all keys to you when they move out then they are required to pay for the full cost of rekeying the property.

Section 2 - Specific to California

Section 2 includes language that is specific to California. In order to help make sure you stay compliant with local laws, we’ve not allowed you to edit the details here.

There are some clauses in Section 2 that we wanted to call out so you understand how it affects you and your tenants.

Late Fees - Section 2.1

Rent is due in full on the 1st of every month. If your tenants do not pay the full rent amount by 5:00 pm on the 5th, then you are entitled to charge a late fee of the lesser of 5% of the unpaid rent amount, or $50. So for example, if today is the 6th and your tenants have not paid their $1,500 monthly rent amount, then you may charge them a late fee of $50 (5% would be $75, so $50 is the lesser amount). This is a one-time fee each month based on the unpaid balance.

Security Deposit Provisions - Section 2.4

The security deposit must be returned to the tenant within 21 days of the end of the lease, minus any money owed to you. No interest is paid on security deposits unless required by local law.

Occupancy Limits and Guests - Section 2.5

Only tenants and any additional occupants (which are dependents such as children) may occupy the premise.

Notification of Repairs - Section 2.7

  1. Your tenants must pay for any repairs that are due to their, or their guests, misuse or negligence of the property.

  2. Your tenants must immediately notify you of serious building problems such as a crack in the foundation, any leaking or running water, appliance malfunction, or electrical shorting. Failure to let you know may make it so the tenant is responsible for the damages due to not addressing the problem sooner.

  3. You as the landlord must pay for any repairs necessary to create a healthy and safe living environment for your tenant.

Access to Premises by Landlord - Section 2.9

You may enter the property only in the following cases:

  1. In case of emergency.

  2. To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors, or to make an inspection pursuant to California Civil Code, Section 1950.5 (f).

  3. When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.

No notice of entry is required in the following scenarios:

  1. To respond to an emergency.

  2. If Tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.

  3. After Tenant has abandoned or surrendered the unit.

Changing Locks - Section 2.12

If your tenant wants to change locks or security devices, they must request to do so in writing. Any additional rekeying, security devices, etc. that the tenant wants must be paid by them but will still be installed by you as the landlord.

Disclosures - We have added in the following required disclosures specific to California so you don't have to attach them separately:

Asbestos Notice - Section 2.20

Methamphetamine/Fentanyl Notice - Section 2.21

Flood Zone Notice - Section 2.22

Prior Death Notice - Section 2.23

Military Testing Site Notice - Section 2.24

Shared Utility Notice - Section 2.25

Bed Bug Information - Section 2.26

Section 3

The clauses in Section 3 are standard to most lease agreements. Along with the rest of the lease agreement, we worked with experienced landlords to make sure you are following best practices in your lease agreement.

Subletting - Section 3.1

Your tenant is not at all allowed to sublease the rental property without your written permission.

Altering or Improving the Property - Section 3.2

Your tenant cannot make any alterations or improvements—like repainting—without your written consent. Unless agreed upon, when they move out, the property must be in the same condition that it was in when they moved in.

Follow the Law (noise, drugs, etc.) - Section 3.14

Your tenant cannot break any law or ordinance (federal, state, or local) while on your rental property. This also includes a clause saying they are not allowed to be annoying or a nuisance to neighbors while on the property. Any of the above can be good grounds for terminating the lease agreement.

Helpful things to know about California Landlord-Tenant law

There are a number of items specific to California that are important to know related to the law that governs Landlord-Tenant agreements.

Security Deposit Collection

  • The maximum security deposit is two months' rent for unfurnished properties (unless the tenant is a service member, then one month’s rent).

  • The maximum security deposit is three months' rent for furnished properties (unless the tenant is a service member, then two month’s rent).

  • If the tenant will be in possession of a waterbed at the property, an additional deposit equal to ½ month’s rent may be charged.

  • There is not a state-wide law regarding interest on security deposits, however many localities in California (including the City of Los Angeles) have enacted laws relating to interest on security deposits.

Security Deposit Return

  • After a tenant moves out, a landlord has 21 days to:

    • Return the tenant's deposit in full, or

    • Mail or personally give to the tenant:

      • A written letter explaining why he or she is keeping all or part of the deposit,

      • An itemized list of each of the deductions,

      • Any remaining refund of the tenant’s deposit, and

      • Copies of receipts for the charges/deductions, unless repairs cost $125 or less or the tenant waived (gave up) his or her right to get the receipts. If the repairs cannot be finished within the 21-day period, the landlord can send the tenant a good faith estimate of the cost of repairs. Then within 14 days of the repairs being done, the landlord must send the tenant the receipts.

Missing something you want to make sure is included?

This article only includes an overview of some of the details included in the California Lease Agreement. You can read the whole agreement and double-check for specific details by clicking this link to see an example of the agreement.

We wanted our lease agreement to handle the majority of use cases for landlords in California. However, we do know that some rental situations are unique. If there are other specifics you want to outline in the lease agreement, you can do so in the Additional Provisions section while creating your lease agreement in TurboTenant. We recommend that you review them with a lawyer to ensure you stay compliant with the law.

Disclaimer: Changing some terms in the lease may conflict with state or local laws. If you make large edits, we recommend speaking with an attorney. Please have a look at your specific state lease agreement for more information. TurboTenant is not responsible for edits that are not compliant with state laws. TurboTenant is unable to provide legal advice.

DISCLAIMER: This lease agreement is not warrantied, either expressly or implied, by TurboTenant, Inc. as to their effectiveness or completeness. TurboTenant, Inc. does not provide legal advice. TURBOTENANT, INC. AND ITS SERVICES, DOCUMENTS, RECORDS, AND PRODUCTS ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR THE ADVICE OF AN ATTORNEY. The user is advised to check all applicable state and federal laws before using this agreement, attachments, disclosures, forms, or parts thereof and to have them reviewed by competent legal counsel prior to use.

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