Key Clauses to Include in Your California Lease Agreement

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Key Clauses to Include in Your California Lease Agreement

In order to avoid misconceptions between a landlord and his or her tenants, it is vital to have key clauses in your California lease agreement.

By Faraaz Hashmi

Detailed lease agreements benefit tenants and landlords alike. Adding key clauses and using the right terms prevent future misunderstandings. There is no such thing as a lease agreement that covers too much.

It is important to remember that you cannot hold your renter responsible for something that was not outlined in the agreement.

Let’s say your tenant allows a friend to move in with them. Your lease agreement needs to contain a clause on occupancy limits. Otherwise, you will not have the grounds to evict them if they move people in without your permission.

In this article, we will examine some of the key items you should include in your California lease agreement.

 

#1: Is it a Lease or Rental Agreement?

Every rental document in California should establish whether it is a fixed-term lease or a rental agreement. These are not the same thing and call for different specifications.

Fixed-term lease

  • You need to set a beginning and expiration date.
  • This document binds both sides to a specified term.
  • In many cases, the term is 12 or 18 months.

Rental agreement

  • You need to set a beginning date.
  • This document contains the notice period both sides need to end the tenancy. For both landlords and tenants, the period is at least 30 days. When tenancies last for a year or more, landlords need to give at least 60 days of notice.
  • Also, you should add a clause for the notice period to change a clause in the rental agreement. The minimum period is 30 days. Under specific rent increase circumstances, it is a 60-day period.
 

#2: Names of Tenants

Every adult tenant needs to be named in the agreements. This ensures that all of your tenants hold legal responsibility for the lease terms, such as paying rent and avoiding damages.

Should one of your tenants violate an important clause in the agreement, you can terminate the tenancy for all renters on that lease. Missing even one adult name from the lease agreement could result in future complications.

 

#3: Occupancy Limits

Your California lease agreement should have a clause about the limits on occupancy. This means specifying that the rental unit is the residence of only the signed tenants and their minor children.

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With this clause, you can take proper action when your tenant invites more people to live on your property. You will have the grounds for an eviction in case of any illegal subletting activities.

 

#4: Rent

Covering the rent in your lease agreement is much more than putting down the amount. There are many details to consider, including the following:

  • How should your tenants pay the rent? For example, by mail or delivered to your working place. The latter should include the hours when they can pay the rent at this particular address.
  • What are the acceptable payment methods?
  • When is the rent due?
  • How long is the grace period (if there’s any at all)?
  • What are the bounced-check fees? (In California, the fee limit is $25 for the first rejected check. Subsequently rejected check fees are limited to $35.)
  • What are the late fees?

Note that California has communities that run rent control. Prepare to provide additional clauses in the lease agreement if your rental property is located in these areas.

 

#5: Pet Rules

Do you allow pets in your Orange County rental property?

Make sure to spell out any restrictions, including the number of pets allowed and any size or breed requirements.

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Any pet deposits or fees should be clearly noted in the agreement. If you do not allow pets, your lease agreement has to reflect this as well. Keep in mind that keeping your property petfree could raise the vacancy rate.

 

#6: Security Deposit

Security deposits are a common source of conflict. It is important to detail the security deposit rules in your California lease or rental agreement. Let’s take a look at the key details:

  • The dollar amount of the security deposit

– You can charge up to two months’ worth of rent in California.

– Is the property furnished? In this case, it is up to three months’ rent.

– You may add an extra one-half months’ rent if your tenant has a waterbed.

  • The use of the deposit

– You could use it for repairing damages that your tenant is held responsible for.

– You may specify situations that are not covered by the security deposit, such as failure to pay the rent.

  • The return of the deposit

– You have to itemize and return the deposit within 21 days of a move-out in California.

  • Interest payments

– In some cities, you have to pay interest payments on your tenant’s security deposit. Present all the details in the document.

 

#7: Entry to Your Property

The rental document should define the legal right of access to your property. In order to avoid claims of unauthorized entry, you need to state the time period of advance notice.

California uses the term “reasonable notice.” Emergencies aside, your advance notice should be at least 24 hours before entering. However, it is 48 hours if you conduct a move-out inspection that your tenant requested. The latter has to be connected with possible security deposit deductions.

 

The Bottom Line: what to include in your California lease agreement

Your California agreement provides a legal basis for any tenancy-related actions you would pursue in the future.

Start off by defining whether the rental document is a lease or rental agreement. Move on by collecting the adult tenant names and setting the occupancy limits.

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Take extra care when covering rent and security deposits. Details matter.

Note that this article covered the basics of key clauses in your lease agreement. Other clauses include:

  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Liability
  • Important rules and policies
  • Disclosures based on federal, state, and local laws

If any of this seems daunting to you, do not hesitate to contact a professional property management company to guide you through the process.

5 Mistakes Real Estate Investors Make When Budgeting for Their Property

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5 Mistakes Real Estate Investors Make When Budgeting for Their Property

Here are 5 mistakes to look out for when budgeting your property

By Faraaz Hashmi

Rental properties are businesses that you can derive incredible income from. However, let’s not discount the fact that there are also potential losses if you fail to consider your budget. Just like any asset, your real estate investment should be taken care of to provide an increased value over time. Real estate investors have to be realistic in budgeting for costs associated with rental properties’ management.

With our experience in property management, we were able to come up with a few mistakes to watch out for and address in Orange County, California:

1. Not budgeting for unexpected repair costs

Repairs are inevitable; therefore, you need to create a budget for repair costs. Allocate a small percentage of the annual rental income for repairs, so when it’s time for emergency fixes, you can take from this part of your budget. If you fail to set up a budget, you might frequently be scrambling around for extra cash. The worst-case scenario involves having to dip into your personal savings.

There are a few repairs that may arise in your rental unit:

 

Kitchen plumbing

You may need quickly address a kitchen plumbing problem to avoid flooding from the kitchen sink. Faucet leaks and busted pipes might cause undue damage to the kitchen area.

 

Furnace

Furnace problems might provide less heating to the property, which can be a hassle for your tenants during winter.

 

Toilet plumbing

A broken tank or overflowing pipe must be fixed right away.

 

Electrical system

Circuit breakers can trip and result in power outages. You might need to contract an electrician’s services.

 

Replacements

Broken appliances, damaged flooring, peeling paint, and roof holes and leaks might cause major inconveniences to your tenants.

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Fence

Missing pickets need to be fixed to retain the attractiveness of your property.

 

Garage door

Cracks and gaps in the garage door might be troublesome for the inhabitants of your unit.

 

2. Not accounting for property management costs

Owning a rental property requires taking on heavy responsibilities, as you need to attract tenants and conduct screening. You need to attend to repairs and maintenance and be well-versed in the local and state laws. As such, there are many advantages to hiring a property management company that will help you manage these stressors.

You must carefully select the property manager that will handle your property. Be aware of the fees they charge and the extent of services they provide with each corresponding cost. Here are a few fees that could be incurred with hiring a property manager:

 

Monthly management fee

Different property managers have different fee structures. Some charge a flat rate per month depending on your property size and expected services. Others will charge based on a percentage of the gross monthly income. This percentage might be lower if they’re managing commercial properties compared to residential units.

 

Tenant placement fee

Some property managers charge a separate fee for tenant placement. This might go to advertising expenses and screening procedures.

 

Vacancy fee

When you have a vacant unit, a property manager might charge you a flat rate each month or a one-time monthly rental payment to spend for tenant searches.

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Maintenance fee

Depending on the property manager, some might charge this fee to conduct regular maintenance for common areas. In lieu of the maintenance fee, a reserve repair fund might be needed. This is a budget for specific repairs that need to be fixed immediately.

 

Eviction fee

There may be eviction fees associated with using the services of a property management company for evicting a tenant. This is to pay for court expenses.

 

Early termination fee

Breaking your contract early with a property management firm may require you to pay an early termination fee. You might only be charged for a month’s rental; the company’s policies will determine the additional fees you will need to pay.

 

3. Not calculating for vacancy expenses

A vacant unit can be costly to manage, but sometimes this can’t be prevented. For example, a tenant may terminate the lease early or may not renew their lease. There are many expenses you have to consider even when the property is vacant:

 

Mortgage

You still have to make the mortgage payment when the property is vacant. If you don’t have other sources of income to deduct this cost from, it might become a stressful situation.

 

Taxes

You are obligated to pay taxes whether or not someone is renting your property.

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Utilities

Even if the bills are lower compared to when someone is renting the unit, you still need to budget for utilities. When you show prospective tenants the property, everything needs to be in proper functioning order, including the electric and water systems.

 

Insurance

Absence of rental income won’t excuse you from paying the regular insurance payments for flooding, hazards, and liability for your property.

 

4. Not factoring for regular maintenance costs

The older your rental property, the more you need to budget for the regular maintenance costs. This will pay off in the long run, since frequent preventative maintenance will lessen emergency repairs and major damages.

Here are some areas to focus on when conducting regular maintenance:

  • Exterior curb appeal
  • Interior common areas
  • Seasonal maintenance (like tree pruning and snow removal)
  • Appliance maintenance
  • Landscaping

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  • Painting
  • Flooring
  • Cleaning costs
  • Pest control
  • Inspections
  • Waste maintenance
 

5. Not budgeting for miscellaneous expenses

Little expenses can quickly add up, and you should consider budgeting for miscellaneous costs. When you’re handling a rental property business, you should account for all expenditure:

 

Marketing

When you have vacant rental units, you need to spend money on marketing advertisements to attract potential tenants.

 

Visiting properties

When you live far from your rental properties, you must budget for transportation costs like vehicle maintenance and fuel. Additionally, there are time costs associated with constantly checking up your properties.

 

Administrative

Tax filing and bookkeeping documentation are required paperwork that must be kept updated to run a successful business. There must be an ample budget to hire professionals who will create organized systems to make the transactions easier for everyone.

 

The Bottom Line

Investors must set up a budget to prepare themselves against inevitable fees and bills associated with owning a property. Hiring an excellent property manager is a great investment for first-time investors to help them lower their chances of making commonly made mistakes. Investors in Orange County should select a great property managerwho will partner with them to manage their investment property and focus on maintaining an appropriate budget for the rental.