13 Things to Include in a Rental Lease

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Whether you're a first-time landlord or a seasoned pro, you can't afford to underestimate the importance of the rental lease. You have to make sure the rental leases you use with your tenants include all the right items, so you can stay fully protected should you ever need to evict a tenant. Remember, California tenant eviction laws are very specific, and any mistakes or oversights you make with the lease could cause difficulties should you need to evict a troublesome tenant.

So, what exactly should you include in each rental lease? Here are 13 things to make sure you don't forget.

1. Date of agreement - Make sure you put the date that the agreement was signed and placed in effect. This is a simple but very important detail that you don't want to overlook.

2. Your name and signature - As a landlord, you should have your printed name and signature on the rental lease.

3. Tenant's name and signature - You also need to get your tenant's printed name and signature on the rental lease. Make sure the signature is at the very end of the agreement, because anything below the signature may not be considered binding.

4. Address of the rental property - Put the address of the rental property on the lease, and if there is a unit number, include that as well.

5. Amount of rent charged - You must include the monthly rental amount in the agreement so that there is no dispute how much the tenant owes.

6. Rent collection specifics - Include details about how rent will be collected, such as due date, methods of payment accepted, date payment is considered late, penalties for late payment, etc.

7. Deposit details - If you require a security deposit on your rental property, include the specifics of this in the rental lease. Details such as when the deposit is due, when it will be returned, and terms of forfeiture are important to address.

8. Terms of termination of agreement - Under which circumstances will the agreement be terminated? Be very specific here.

9. Number of allowed legal occupants - Specify the number of legal occupants that will be allowed in the rental unit.

10. Rules governing subletting the rental property - Will tenants be allowed to sublet the property? Whether the answer is yes or no, address this matter in the rental lease.

11. Tenant responsibility for damages to property - To what extent will tenants be held responsible for damages done to the property?

12. Restrictions and permissions for tenant making alterations to property - Do tenants have the right to alter the property in any way? If so, what can they do (e.g paint, hang things on the wall, etc.)?

13. Rules governing use of rental - Address allowed uses for the property (e.g. residential or commercial).

By including these 13 items in your rental lease, you can have a solid agreement that won't have any loopholes. Should you ever need to pursue California tenant eviction, having a sound lease will be an invaluable asset.
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