California Residential Lease

California Residential Lease

Make Unlimited Leases for 1 Year

Easily create a residential lease or month-to-month rental agreement for single or multiple tenants in California with this ready-to-use legal form, complete with detailed clause-by-clause instructions, so all you have to do is fill in the blanks. This form lets you specify who can live on the property, the amount of rent, and how it's to be paid; set the security deposit and explain how it will be used and returned; explain your rights to enter the rental and the tenant's and landlord's upkeep responsibilities.

If you need a lease for another state, click here.

You can save and edit the form before you buy--just create a account. It's easy, free, and there's no obligation to buy anything. If you purchase the form, you'll be able to print, send, or download it.

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Price: $39.99

Product Details

California landlord-tenant law is among the most complex in the country. If you’re a landlord in California you need this California-specific lease or monthly rental agreement to get every tenancy off to a good start. Designed to comply with state law (and careful to point out where local law or rent control may apply, too), this agreement from Nolo lets you:

  • specify the length of the lease (or choose a month-to-month agreement), who can live on the property, the amount of rent, and how it’s to be paid
  • set the security deposit and explain how it will be used and returned (including local interest requirements, if any)
  • explain your rights to enter the rental and the tenants’ and landlord’s upkeep responsibilities
  • include important restrictions on guest stays, use of the property, and the consequences of late rent and bounced checks, and
  • make required disclosures regarding environmental hazards and other significant issues.

The agreement comes with a full set of clause-by-clause instructions, explaining the meaning of each clause and how to fill in the required information. Includes links to rent control boards or other local government websites that guide users on how to add locally-required information to the rental document. This product creates a legal, binding agreement that embodies the rights and responsibilities of landlords and tenants in California, all in plain English. 

Nolo has dozens of products created just for California residents. Check out Nolo's list of California products.


What is the difference between a lease and a rental agreement?

This rental form allows you to create either a fixed-term lease or a rental agreement.

  • A lease runs from one specific date to another, and typically lasts for a year. The lease expires on its own; neither landlord nor tenant need give notice. The terms of the lease cannot be modified mid-lease unless both parties agree.

  • A month-to-month rental agreement self-renews every month, unless landlord or tenant gives the required amount of notice. Landlords may modify the terms of the agreement using the same notice period.

Are you renewing an existing lease you made with Nolo?

If you've made a lease using this platform and have an existing account, you can renew the lease by duplicating the old lease and entering any changed information. For example, make sure the contact information for you or the manager is current. (To duplicate your form, open the original lease and click "More" in the green menu bar. Then click "Duplicate.")

If you want to apply the security deposit you collected originally to the renewed lease, you'll have an opportunity to do so. You can either roll-over the amount you have on hand, or add to it (within the limits of the law, of course). If you're subject to a local law requiring interest on deposits, don't forget to follow the rules regarding disbursement, and to calculate interest based on the new, higher amount if you've increased the deposit.

Is the rental subject to rent control or other local laws?

In some cities or counties, local ordinances or laws require certain language or information to be in the agreement. For example, some cities require landlords to pay interest on deposits, though state law does not. This product captures local interest requirements.

But this product does not include other issues that may need to be in the rental document, such as language required by rent control laws.

If you own rental property in a city that has rent control, you should have a current copy of the city’s rent control law. You can usually obtain a paper copy from the administrative agency that oversees the workings of the ordinance. It’s quicker, however, to read the material online. Most cities have posted their ordinances, as you will see from the list below.

You can also access many cities’ municipal codes at State and Local Government on the Net (California). Look for your county and/or city.

When you click any of the links below (and any provided in this product), the website will open in a new browser page. You won't be taken away from your lease or rental agreement.

You can add locally required information in the "Additional Provisions" clause of the agreement.

  • Berkeley. For rent control provisions, see Municipal Code Chapter 13.76 and Article XVII of the City Charter. You can also visit the website for Berkeley’s Rent Stabilization Board.
  • Beverly Hills. For rent control provisions, see Title 4, Chapters 5 and 6, of the Municipal Code.
  • Campbell.  For rent control provisions, see Title 6, Chapter 6.09, of the Municipal Code.
  • East Palo Alto. For rent control provisions, see Title 14 §§ 14.04.010-14.04.350
  • Fremont. For “Residential Rent Increase Dispute Resolution” provisions, see Title III, Chapter 19, §§ 3-1900 to 3-1955.
  • Gardena. Rent control provisions are in §§ 14.04.010 to 14.04.290. You can also visit the Rent Mediation Board page.
  • Hayward
  • Los Angeles. Rent control provisions are in Chapter XV.
  • Los Gatos. Rent control provisions are in Chapter 14, Article VIII.
  • Oakland. Choose Title 8, Chapter 8.22.
  • Palm Springs. Rent control provisions are in title 4, Chapters 4.02, 4.04, and 4.08.
  • San Francisco. From this page, click on “San Francisco Administrative Code” for the entire collection of city codes, including the Chapter 37 rent control ­provisions. The Rent Board website is the best place online to get rent control ordinance provisions and regulations, maintained by the rent board.
  • San Jose. Relevant provisions are in Title 17, Chapter 17.23, §§17.23.010 to 17.23.770.
  • Santa Monica. This city’s rent control laws are in the City Charter, not in the Municipal Code.
  • Thousand Oaks. This is a summary of the city’s narrow rent control laws. This city’s rent control ordinances (755-NS [7/1980], 956-NS [3/1987], and 1284-NS [5/1997]) were never made a part of the Municipal Code, and thus cannot be found in the online Municipal Code.
  • West Hollywood. Rent control and eviction protection provisions are in Title 17.

What are the minimum square foot requirements and occupancy limits for this property?

If you are renting to more than one tenant, and have concerns about whether your rental is legally large enough for the proposed number of residents, you will need to consider the number of residents and the size of the available bedrooms.

California law sets a minimum square foot requirement of 70 square feet for the first occupant of a bedroom designed for sleeping, plus an additional 50 square feet for each additional occupant of that bedroom. Your city may have minimum requirements that allow for more occupants than the state standard—be sure to check your city’s requirements.

You will also need to be aware of California’s rules on permissible occupancy standards—the ability of a landlord to set a limit on the number of tenants, based on the number alone of bedrooms. California’s rule of thumb is two residents per bedroom plus one more. This means that a two-bedroom unit should be able to accommodate five persons (subject to the minimum square footage requirement explained above). Be sensible when applying this standard, taking into consideration the age of the residents and the relative size of the rooms.

Are there legal requirements that apply when negotiating in a foreign language?

If you and your tenant discuss your agreement primarily in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or Korean, you must give the tenant an unsigned version of the rental document in that language before asking for a signature. This rule does not apply (that is, you may present your English version only) if the tenant has supplied his own translator who is not a minor and who can speak and read the foreign language and English fluently. If the translator is supplied by the tenant but does not meet these two requirements, or if the translator is you or someone in your employ or otherwise supplied by you (for example, your fluent daughter), you will have to present a foreign language version of your rental document. (CC § 1632.)

What are a landlord's duties regarding the disclosure of mold?

Since 2001, California's Department of Public Health has been charged with developing permissible exposure level standards ("PELS") to mold. Once they are developed, landlords will be charged with disclosing to tenants the presence of any known mold that exceeds these levels. As of this writing, no guidelines have been developed. You can read more about mold at the Department's website, About Mold and Dampness, which should also contain updates on the progress of any guideline development.

How do I comply with disclosing and documenting any lead hazards on the property?

With some exceptions, all landlords must complete the federally required Lead Paint and Lead-Paint Hazards Disclosure form and give it to prospective tenants. Your agreement includes a clause in which landlords who are not exempt from this requirement state that they have complied with the rule (exemptions are explained in the Help sections of the clause). You can download the Disclosure of Information on Lead-Based Paint and/or Lead-Based Paint Hazards from the EPA website. Fill it out by hand. Be sure to keep a copy for your records.

If you are not exempt, you will also need to give your tenant a copy of the EPA pamphlet Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home, available at the EPA website.

What are the California laws regarding waterbeds?

Though water-filled furniture is relatively uncommon these days, now and then you’ll encounter a tenant who wants to move in with one, or who will want to get one later. Here are the legal rules:

  • Pre-1973 buildings. If your property's certificate of occupancy was issued before January 1, 1973, you may refuse permission to use a waterbed or other water-filled furniture.
  • Post-1973 buildings. For buildings whose certificate was issued after January 1, 1973, you may not refuse to rent to tenants with waterbeds, but you may insist that the tenant and the furniture meet specific requirements.

Your agreement includes a waterbed clause. If your property was built post-1973 (or you decide to allow a waterbed in your pre-1973 building), and you know that the tenant intends to move in with one, you will want to download the Waterbed Agreement that sets out the conditions under which the bed may be brought in. If your tenant approaches you during the tenancy term and asks to install a waterbed, use the same form.

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Customer Reviews

13 Reviews





Good but could use improvements. by Linda M.
The lease itself is the usual well written Nolo product. Lost one star because you can see how your answers appear until you are completely done (you should be able to look at the document in progress) and most importantly, for $39 you should get both a PDF and an RTF in case you want to add a clause. (Posted on 10/15/2020)

Execelent by NAZEM R.
I really appreciate very much California R. Lease by NOLO. (Posted on 8/24/2019)

Review by Ana V.
Nolo Press made it so easy to write up my rental agreement. If I can do it anyone can! (Posted on 1/15/2018)

Review by Joseph P.
Very easy. (Posted on 12/16/2017)

Ability to add an addendum by Sathya R.
Great product. I wish you had a provision to add a separate sheet as an addendum. This si for specific items that I as a landlord would like to add to the contract but are specific to that rental property. (Posted on 12/13/2017)

Review by Mark C.
Good source for leases. (Posted on 10/27/2017)

Works great by Rosemarie G.
I found it useful (Posted on 10/25/2017)

Simple Language by Jorge L.
Nolo has been a confidence builder for our leases. We could review our contracts with clients, at a down to earth level, where we both understand the contract simple English. Makes us all comfortable in signing. (Posted on 9/4/2017)

Product Improvement by Timothy Q.
The product is not very user-friendly. You have differentiate between generating and printing the form. When user has decided on the terms, have a clear visible button for user to press generate form. If the form is ok, user can press print button. Also, allow user to generate Word or PDF. I want Word version because I want to add my own terms and conditions. Do not force user to use only your PDF version. (Posted on 8/4/2017)

Does What Is Intended But.... by Aaron F.
The form does what it is intended and there are no major holes, but the language could use an editor, and there are some provisions missing, like "holding over", that really should be addressed, particularly in higher-rent leases or rent control jurisdictions where landlords may be interested in expressly limiting or prohibiting holding over. (Posted on 7/6/2017)

Review by Anonymous
This was very easy to do. Instructions were clear and the form covered all the terms and conditions I wanted included in the lease. (Posted on 5/11/2017)

Review by Anonymous
very helpful (Posted on 3/30/2017)

Time saving & easy to use format! by Anonymous
User friendly format. Produces a professional looking rental agreement. Very happy with the end result. (Posted on 1/18/2017)