California Standard Residential Lease Agreement

The California Standard Residential Lease Agreement is a formal, written arrangement between a landlord and a tenant that is typically in effect for one (1) year. In most cases it is crafted to protect the landlord’s legal rights and property. It does so by allowing the landlord to sue the tenant in small claims court if the tenant violates certain terms of the agreement. Such violations may include failing to pay the rent, damaging the property, or subleasing the dwelling without permission. However, state law also protects tenants from wrongful eviction and discrimination. For example, § 1940.2  prohibits landlords from trying to get tenants to leave by engaging in unacceptable conduct.

Tenant Screening: California Rental Application


State Laws

Laws: §§ 1940 to 1954.05 “Hiring of Real Property” and §§ 1961 to 1962.7 “Identification of Property Owners”

Maximum Security Deposit: (§ 1950.5) If the apartment, house or dwelling is furnished, the amount a landlord can request cannot be greater than three (3) months rent. If the premises is unfurnished, the amount requested as a security deposit cannot exceed two (2) months rent.

Returning Security Deposits: At his or her discretion, the landlord can return a security deposit within 60 days prior to the expiration of a lease. However, the landlord must refund the tenant’s security deposit (minus any allowable or applicable deductions) within twenty-one (21) days after the tenant leaves the premises for good. Along with the refunded amount, the landlord must provide a written statement noting the original amount of the security deposit and the reasons for any deductions. As long as the tenant and landlord agree, the refund can be deposited into the tenant’s bank account, and the written notice detailed above can be sent by email.

Initial Inspection: In most cases, the tenant has a right to request and attend a preliminary inspection of the dwelling. The landlord should inform the tenant of this right before a lease expires; or within a “reasonable time” after the receipt or issuance of proper notification about ending the tenancy. This inspection allows the tenant to address any defects attributed to them rather than having the cost for repairs deducted from the security deposit. The tenant can elect to skip the initial inspection if he or she wishes.


Sample Template