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The Lease

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The Lease

Renters are bound either by an oral or written agreement.


Written agreements are more common and better protect the tenant and the landlord. When a lease is signed by both parties, it becomes a binding legal contract. If any party does not fulfill the terms of the lease, the person who defaults can be sued, this can be expensive. A tenant is not excused from honoring a lease simply because he does not understand or did not read it.

When considering a written lease agreement, tenants should:

Read the entire contract and ask questions or obtain a legal opinion about unclear provisions.

Ask for changes. If tenants dislike certain provisions in the lease, they have the right to ask landlords to amend the lease with written changes. However if a landlord refuses, which he has a right to do, a tenant must decide whether to sign the lease. If changes are made, both the tenant and landlord should initial the changes.

Do not rely on verbal statements. All promises and agreements should be in writing for your protection.


At a minimum the lease should include :

Landlords name, address and phone number.

Address of rental property.

Amount of monthly rent.

Rent due date and grace period (if any).

Amount of security deposit and conditions for its return.

Length of lease.


Before renting, tenants might get other questions answered or address them in the lease :

Who will pay for electricity, gas and water?

What repairs and cleaning will the landlord do?

What is the policy on keeping pets?

Are fees charged for late payments?

Who takes cares of the yard?

Signed lease: A lease for one year or more must be written and signed by the tenant and landlord.


An oral agreement obligates the landlord and tenant for only one month. A landlord can evict the tenant or raise rent with only one months notice if the tenant has lived in the property for less than one year and sixty days notice if tenant has lived in property for one year or more. Likewise, the tenant can give notice to vacate on one months notice. (One months notice means a full calendar month, and must include a full rental period. For example: If your rent is due on the third day of the month, your rental period runs from the third of the month to the third of the following month.)The tenant or landlord must give written notice to terminate the tenancy. Oral notice from either party to the other is not valid.


A landlord can end a lease :

When a tenant does not pay rent.

At the end of a written lease.

When a tenant damages property.

When a tenant violates a condition of a written lease.

When a tenant is involved in criminal activity or unlawful activity.

Cyber Law

You can find the state statutes at http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/calaw.php see Chapters 1925 through 1997 which address landlord tenant issues.

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