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Signing a Lease or Rental Agreement in San Diego


Contrary to what people believe, signing a lease or rental agreement in San Diego is quite complicated. From a financial and legal perspective, the entire rental relationship is governed by the rental agreement (or lease). This covers such things as the amount of rent, when it is due, and how you should pay it; the number of individuals who may live in the apartment, along with any subletting rules; what each party is responsible for; and what happens if either party doesn’t fulfill their duties. 

Given how crucial the lease is both to parties, landlords and tenants should both consult a lawyer who is well-versed in Landlord-Tenant Law to assist them with the terms and legal implications of leases.

Whether you are a landlord who is signing a lease or rental agreement in San Diego, our trusted attorney can offer you legal advice that is appropriate for your situation and legal assistance with the law.

You can examine your situation with the aid of Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C., ascertain your legal rights, and make a wise choice on how to protect your interests. 

Why do I need a Landlord-Tenant Lawyer in California?

Landlord-tenant law is becoming increasingly complex, and there are significant financial stakes whenever a dispute over such issues develops. Whether you are a landlord, renter, or commercial tenant, you will need a tenacious and knowledgeable legal counsel to advocate your interests. We can offer a fair and objective viewpoint because we represent both landlords and tenants, which is something that lawyers who only represent one side frequently struggle to achieve.

Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C.  is a group of aggressive landlord-tenant experts. We offer result-oriented representation in situations involving:

  • Evictions — Including no-fault and fault-based cases.
  • Rent control disputes — In San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley, Hayward, and other Bay Area cities.
  • Habitability issues — Disputes involving structural integrity, safety, and health conditions.
  • Wrongful Eviction — Disputes regarding illegal termination of tenancy, eviction notices, and “self-help” eviction.
  • Commercial landlord-tenant disputes — Late payment and non-payment of rent, property damage, and breach of contract.
  • Short-term rental issues — Subleases and Airbnb and VRBO rentals.
  • Buy-Outs
  • Defense against tenant lawsuits – Including discrimination and disability claims.

Contact our law office right away, before signing a lease or rental agreement in San Diego, to schedule a consultation.

What is Landlord-Tenant Law?

All aspects of leasing a property, whether residential or commercial, are covered under landlord-tenant law. Tenant rights, what landlords can include in leases, and the many other legal issues associated in negotiating, drafting, and upholding lease agreements are all governed by laws.

Lawyers are a vital resource for information on the laws governing security deposits, repairs and maintenance, and eviction, and they may assist landlords in creating an enforceable lease, offering advice on how to safeguard their property and sources of income.

Similarly, tenants may benefit from attorneys if their landlord has violated the law or the terms of the lease, such as by neglecting to repair an electrical system that isn’t working properly. To make sure that no provisions in a lease agreement are overly one-sided, many commercial renters also enlist the assistance of a landlord-tenant attorney.

What Are The Terms To Know?

The following are basic terms you need to know regarding Landlord-Tenant Law:

  • Lease: The agreement that regulates the relationship between the landlord and the tenant.
  • Security deposit: Money held by the landlord on behalf of the tenant for the purpose of fixing any damage to the rental property.
  • Eviction/Summary Process: A landlord’s legal right to remove a tenant from a rental property.
  • Repair and Deduct: A strategy whereby the tenant makes repairs to the rental unit and deducts such costs from the rent.

What is a Rental Lease Agreement?

When a tenant rents a home or a commercial property, the landlord and tenant sign a lease. The terms and conditions of a tenancy, including the responsibilities and rights of the tenant and the landlord, should be outlined in a rental lease agreement.

Different kinds of residential properties can utilize a rental lease agreement. Examples include:

  • Condo
  • Apartment
  • Duplex
  • Office
  • Townhouse
  • House

Leases for rental properties are binding contracts. Even if you just want to let a family member or friend stay in one room of your house, you should have a rental lease agreement in place so that you’re covered in the event of a dispute.

Rental leasing agreements may also be referred to as:

  • House rental agreements
  • Apartment leases
  • Lease agreements
  • Lease forms
  • Rental agreements
  • Rental tenancy agreements
  • Tenancy agreements
  • Rental contracts

Who Needs an Agreement for a Rental Lease?

Landlords and tenants can prevent disputes by using a rental lease agreement. If problems occur, your signed agreement will assist you in resolving them. Lease agreements are frequently mandated by state laws and serve a number of purposes, including outlining the responsibilities of a landlord and establishing rules for tenants residing on the property.

A rental lease agreement could be required by many individuals and organizations. This includes:

  • Property owners seeking tenants
  • Tenants searching for a place to live or a commercial property
  • People who want to let their house out to relatives or friends
  • Landlords
  • Placement of tenants’ services
  • Property managers
  • Small businesses seeking a business space

Any person looking to rent out a home, room, office space, or piece of land must use a rental lease agreement. Otherwise, the landlord might:

  • Lose rent money
  • Be held accountable for any unlawful conduct performed by tenants on the property.
  • Become subject to fines for delinquent utility bills
  • Need to spend lots of money on repairs for property damage

What Provisions Are Common in a Lease?

While handshakes and verbal agreements are occasionally used to finalize leases, signing a lease or rental agreement in San Diego is more typical. Standard provisions include things like the parties’ names and the address of the rental unit. However, every lease is unique since it is based on the requirements of the landlord and the legal restrictions.

Common provisions may, but need not, include the following:

  • A description of the property for rent
  • Term (length) of the Lease
  • Rent due date and amount
  • Late charges (if applicable)
  • Regulations for animals
  • Limitations on when the landlord can enter the property
  • Amount of the security deposit

Although verbal lease agreements might be seen as valid, it’s advisable to always request that the terms be in writing to best secure your interests.

What Are The Types of Lease or Rental Agreements?

There are various types and classifications of rental lease agreements. While some categories discuss the duration of the contract, others discuss the kind of unit rented out.

Fixed-Term Leases

Fixed-term leases have an established end date. When a renter consents to rent a property for a specific period of time and for a specific cost, you utilize this kind of rental lease agreement. The beginning and end dates of a fixed-term lease are determined by calendar dates. 

The agreement expires on the fixed-term lease’s end date, at which point the parties may agree to a new lease that contains the most recent dates and other details. The tenant may also decide to leave at that time, as an alternative.

Automatic Renewal Leases

This kind of lease, also known as a periodic tenancy, automatically renews after a predetermined period. These leases, for instance, might automatically renew each month, every 6 months, or once a year. These leases remain in effect until the tenant or landlord gives the other the proper notice that they intend to terminate the lease.

Month-to-Month Lease Agreements

These short-term leases are helpful for landlords who want to maintain their rights but don’t want to commit to renting out their property for one year or longer. Both tenants and landlords benefit from the flexibility that month-to-month leases provide.

Standard Residential Rental Lease Agreements

Residential properties can be rented out for a predetermined length of time, often one year, using standard rental lease agreements. These agreements include standard, crucial terms. 

Short-Term or Vacation Rental Agreements

These kinds of agreements are used by people to rent out the property for a little time, most frequently when it’s being utilized as a vacation rental. These agreements usually last between one and 31 days. The agreement should outline the regulations and what the guests can anticipate when they arrive.

Sublease Agreements

You can utilize a sublease agreement to lease out property or just a room if you are renting from another landlord. When they need to relocate but do not want to break their lease, people frequently decide to sublet a room or piece of property. It’s possible that landlords have criteria before allowing subleases.

Room Rental Agreements

A room rental agreement is an option if you are renting space on your property and wish to establish clear guidelines and standards. You can use these kinds of agreements to lay down in writing how you want to split utility and rent bills along with any guidelines for visitors.

Commercial Lease Agreements

Commercial lease agreements are frequently the best choice if a renter wants to rent a space to run a business. Rentals for the following may be made under commercial leasing agreements:

  • Office buildings
  • Retail spaces
  • Industrial facilities
  • Restaurants

Land Lease Agreements

When renting a tract of land without property on it, a land lease agreement is used. There are numerous uses for land leases, including:

  • Commercial
  • Agricultural
  • Residential

Rent-to-Own Lease Agreements

Once the rental lease term expires, a tenant has the opportunity to buy the property under these sorts of agreements. These agreements enable the landlord/seller to continue earning a regular income before the sale is finished while helping tenants who can’t buy a house right away.

Before signing a lease or rental agreement in San Diego, it’s crucial to engage with a lawyer who can help you create an agreement that offers proper protections since there are so many nuances involved in selecting the right form of a rental lease agreement for your particular situation.

What Is Unique About California Lease Agreements?

A California lease contains a few provisions that are specific to the state’s landlord-tenant laws. Although California law mandates certain elements of a lease agreement, specific cities and towns may have additional requirements that must be covered in the agreement.

In California, a landlord’s lease shall contain the following eight clauses:

Security Deposits

Although the majority of landlords in California do so, it is not a requirement. If one is received, it cannot exceed two months’ worth of rent. The security deposit does not have to be kept separate from the landlord’s other assets if the unit is furnished and cannot exceed three months’ worth of rent.

Such security deposits must only be kept by a landlord if the tenant owes back rent and there is renter-caused damage to the property that goes beyond regular wear and tear. They must be given back to the tenant if not within 21 days of the move-out date.

Requirements for Specific Payments

Although they are not allowed to, landlords may accept any kind of rent payment. A landlord is permitted to the rent payments in cash if a check bounces within the past three months, which is the only exemption.

Late Fees for Rent

The state stipulates that any late rental fees must be a realistic approximation of the cost incurred by the renter if a tenant misses one or more rent payments. Such fees are not intended to punish the tenant, and state law prohibits their use in that manner.

Rent Increases

Most rent increases in California are capped at 5% and take inflation into account. Despite the fact that this is state legislation, certain cities and towns have their own regulations regarding rent increases, which the landlord must also abide by.

Notice of Entry

In California, landlords are only permitted to enter a rental unit for agreed-upon repairs, exhibiting to potential tenants, or if the unit has been abandoned. Unless there is an emergency, landlords must give their tenants written notice at least 24 hours before accessing the property.

Disclosures in a Rental Agreement

All deadly substances, including mold and asbestos, that need to be disclosed to a potential renter if they have ever been discovered in the rental property were produced by the California Environmental Protection Agency.

Megan’s law was used to create a new disclosure document for rental agreements that informs tenants of local registered sex offenders, as required by California law. Understanding one’s local requirements is crucial because not all states have this information as a necessity.

Electricity and Gas Disclosure

If a rental unit or property in California does not have individual gas or electricity meters, the landlord must provide a disclosure statement informing the tenant of the monthly cost of these utilities.

Rentals and Recreational Marijuana

Although California allows the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, landlords are nonetheless entitled to forbid its cultivation and smoking on their properties. This would be a part of a lease agreement’s smoking clause and should expressly cover the laws regarding recreational marijuana usage in the rented property.

Call our San Diego Lanlord-Tenant Law Attorney Today!

The best way to select a competent San Francisco, California lawyer is to speak with them, ask them questions, and ensure they meet all of your needs before signing a lease or rental agreement in San Diego. 

Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C.  places a high value on the attorney-client relationship. If this is your first time facing a legal matter regarding rental lease agreements, our attorney can patiently and clearly explain the legal procedure, outline your options, and address any of your legal concerns.

Get in touch with us to arrange a consultation about your legal issue with our San Francisco landlord-tenant law firm.

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